Samoan girl has been a climate advocate for 8 years, addressed the UN at 14yo

Nineteen-year-old Brianna Fruean has not let age be a deterrent when it comes to advocating for climate change issues in her native Samoa and the wider Pacific. In fact, her youth has served as an advantage when speaking to her peers about the need to take urgent action on an issue that looms large in their lives In addition, she’s emerged as a voice of Pacific youth on climate change, speaking on behalf of the region’s young people at international summits.

Brianna Fruean on the left at the Pacific Youth Environment Network 2013 Meeting (credit: sprep.org)

At 11, Brianna became a founding member of the grassroots climate change movement 350.Samoa and leader of the environmental group “Future Rush”, which have rallied youth and communities alike in Samoa and the wider Pacific region to tackle climate change and embrace sustainable development.

At 14, she was one of the youngest persons to attend the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in 2012, as a Pacific youth ambassador.

At 16, Brianna made history as the youngest ever winner of the Commonwealth Youth Award, specifically the Climate Change, Environmental Protection Award, which recognized her role in amplifying the voice of young Pacific people on the pressing issue of climate change.

Brianna Fruean as the SPREP Youth Ambassador for the Oceania 21, two years ago (credit: sprep.org)

At 17, Brianna was chosen by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme as their first ever youth ambassador in recognition of her achievements to conserve the Pacific environment.

Today, Brianna continues to develop and strengthen the voice of young people in the Pacific on the key issues of environment and climate change through a variety of activities including visiting schools and teaching children and youth about climate change and empowering them to be agents of social change.

When she attends environmental summits, she speaks about youth perspectives and voices her concerns about the impacts of climate change; the need for low carbon development while balancing out what Samoa needs to grow as a country.

Speaking on International Youth Day in 2015, Brianna said: “It is now time to prove that we are worthy caretakers of this beautiful planet and I think our youth have the force to lead this change. We as youth may not hold all the power or money in the world but we have something more valuable in my opinion and that is passion.

 (This portrait of Brianna Fruean was first published by the Pacific Community for the 70 Inspiring Women campaign, it is reproduced here with their permission.)

The 70 Inspiring Pacific Women campaign has been produced by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with Australian Aid and Pacific Women. The campaign marks the 70th anniversary of SPC, and leads up to the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women in Suva (Fiji) from 2nd to 5th October 2017.

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