Peace Boat US Welcomes a New Intern Team for Summer 2022!

This summer, a dedicated and talented intern team has joined us to assist Peace Boat US’s activities and projects. During the beginning of the June, our intern team had the opportunity to attend the UN World Environment Day celebrations, as well as events organized by Peace Boat US around the annual United Nations World Oceans Day. For the month of July, we are focusing on the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and planning the North American Global Youth Adaptation Forum. We want to give a warm welcome to the new intern team: Anya Lebedeva, Arpita Kundu, Ayesha Jamal, Daniela de León, Gloria Wu, Makenzie Bay, Mathew Lohmann, Roland Prince Ovbiebo, Sophia Tabibian, Vivienne Holmarsdottir, and Xingyu (Cecilia) Fan. We are thrilled to have you, and we look forward to a working with you!

Anna (Anya) Lebedeva  is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor. During her last year at Michigan she was a Campus Director for the Millenium Fellowship, which is a semester-long leadership development program on college campuses worldwide, presented by the United Nations Academic Impact and MCN. She also completed a Peace Corps Prep Certification Program with an emphasis on the Environment, which included 60+ hours of volunteer work.

Having completed her BFA at Stamps School of Art and Design, Anya is excited to engage in the creative work for Peace Boat US, combining her passions for sustainability, environment and art. She’s most passionate about Sustainable Development Goals #4: Quality Education and #16:Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; she believes that a lot of misunderstandings often come from a lack of education/ educational resources, and by participating in Peace Boat US Internship hopes to amplify salient voices and spread urgent messages about sustainability and peace.

Arpita Kundu has just graduated from William Cullen Bryant High School, and will be going to attend Stony Brook University for Fall 2022. She wants to graduate from University with a bachelor in Nursing. Arpita’s passions are painting and traveling, and she enjoys photography as well. She is a regular club member of Global Kids, which is a non profit organization that supports educational programs for youth from diverse backgrounds in New York City. She has worked in a middle school as an Intern teacher for SYEP (Summer Youth Employment Program) in the summer of 2021, and this is her second year participating in the program. She will try her best to contribute to Peace Boat using her past experiences.

Arpita also loves meeting new people and having experiences in different fields of work. Her ultimate goal is to make changes in society, work for people who need help, and ensure safety for the environment. Arpita is most interested with SDG #13, calling for Climate Action. She wants to engage herself and more youth to take action against climate change. She thinks the way the environment is changing and the weather is reacting, we should take action from now otherwise future generations will be in danger.

Ayesha Jamal is a member of Global Kids and will attend City College of New York (CCNY) this Fall, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science. With this degree, she will enhance her career in programming and potentially use it for her passions in politics and human rights. These passions stem from her childhood lived in Pakistan up until the age of 10, where topics like the role of women, human rights, and quality education were always on the topic of conversation. Growing up female, she was always fascinated by the different roles society had given men and women, and how those roles changed in different cultures and communities.

Ayesha likes to read books and also enjoys learning new languages and currently studying Turkish. She is delighted to participate in the Peace Boat’s signature internship program and gain a better understanding of how local communities and individuals are affected by global problems and find solutions to these problems. Ayesha is most interested in Sustainability Development Goal #5 for Gender Equality as well as SDG #4 for Quality Education and SDG #16 for Peace and Justice. She is eager to be able to talk and research more about these topics. She also hopes to better her networking, communication, and research skills.

Daniela de León is a rising senior majoring in Environmental Studies at Lake Forest College. Growing up in the northern highlands of Guatemala brought  her closer to topics such as environmental justice, collective memory as a way of truth telling, and indigenous rights. She is excited to further develop her research and digital media design skills at Peace Boat. Daniela identifies the most with SDG #10, which calls for reduced inequalities within and among countries.  She believes that providing equal opportunity to everyone irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic status will allow different voices to take a part in important decisions, especially those regarding sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

Gloria Wu is a rising third year at the University of Virginia. She is planning to major in anthropology and foreign affairs, with a minor in history. She is interested in travel, cross-cultural communication, and social activism. Gloria aspires to have a life dedicated to public service. She is currently working on a project with a professor to create awareness about the military coup and disinformation regimes in Myanmar. She believes there is a need for awareness of many social issues in developing countries, to hold western countries and corporations accountable for their actions and historical legacies.

She is most passionate about the UN Sustainable Goal #16: Promote peace, justice and strong institutions. She has experience in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion for class council; which she seeks to implement in the spaces, organizations and communities she is a part of. She hopes to gain experience around peace making, coalition building, and nonprofit work through the Peace Boat US internship.

Makenzie Bay is a rising third year at DePaul University in Chicago Illinois. She is passionate about climate change and health. She is majoring in International Studies with a minor in geography. She is interested in languages and is currently studying both Spanish and Korean. Makenzie aspires for a future in promoting sustainability and global health. She currently volunteers with the American Red Cross as a biomedical ambassador and hopes to volunteer in a hospital soon. She is most interested in Sustainable Development Goal #3, Good Health and well-being, and SDG #13 for Climate Action. At Peace Boat US, she strives to promote their message and gain experience in people’s well being in relationship to the environment while simultaneously encouraging sustainable action.

Matthew Lohmann is a rising junior at Tufts University. Matt is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Spanish, with a minor in Economics. He is originally from Madison, New Jersey, and enjoys performing in theater, playing videogames with his younger brother, and competing in Model UN. In general, he is looking forward to learning more about the logistics of working at an NGO and how they interact with governments. Through the internship, Matt hopes to improve his research and writing abilities, as well as enhancing his skills in professional social media. He is most passionate about Sustainable Development Goal #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; he believes that effective and fair governance is an important first step that will lead to the rest of the goals being more easily fulfilled. Peacebuilding is an incredibly difficult process but is critical to bringing economic prosperity and ecological justice to the rest of the world, and Matt is passionate about bringing a future of peace to fruition.

Roland Prince Ovbiebo is passionate about ocean sustainability and climate change. After finishing his bachelor degree in Marine Science and Technology in Nigeria, he served his nation under the National Youth Service Corps scheme. Due to his determination to succeed, he won the fully-funded 2021 Diponegoro University Scholarship for International students to study Environmental Science at the master’s level. He’ll be starting his Graduate Student Researcher position at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego in the fall of 2022. 

He’s most passionate about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #13: Climate Action and Goal  #14: Life Below Water; he wants to leave the world in a better place than he finds it by helping to address climate change issues through innovative research and developing climate change adaptive strategies. By participating in the Peace Boat US internship he hopes to learn more about Sustainable Development Goals, youth engagement in addressing climate change,  and hone his networking skills.

Sophia Tabibian is a rising 9th grader at Phillips Academy Andover. She is passionate about climate change solutions, technology, and environmental policy. Last summer, Sophia was part of the EarthxYouth fellowship, where she learned about Peace Boat’s activities when Emilie McGlone, Director of Peace Boat US, was a mentor for the program. She produced a seven-minute film, “Skylines of Innovation,” discussing how technology can improve the sustainability and efficiency of cities. Currently, Sophia volunteers at San Francisco City Hall and runs a community service group that hosts weekly beach cleanups. At Peace Boat, she looks forward to taking action on peace education, conflict resolution, disarmament, and sustainable development through films, articles, and general NGO logistics. Sophia hopes to connect with and support communities on the local and global scale. Furthermore, she strives to raise awareness about Peace Boat’s impact, bringing together people across the world. Sophia is most interested in Sustainable Development Goal #7: Affordable and Clean Energy. She cares deeply about making green electricity accessible to all people and hopes to dedicate her future to finding new solutions for climate action.

Vivienne Holmarsdottir is a freshman at Long Beach City College. She is currently a history major but is planning on narrowing it down to Ethnic Studies after she transfers to a four-year university. Her goals include joining an activist organization for the betterment of human life, like Peace Boat US, Amnesty, the ACLU among others. She is originally from Brooklyn, New York, enjoys fashion, art, and other creative centered hobbies. She has participated in numerous protests, community engagement groups, including the most recent protests regarding women’s reproductive rights.

This is the second time she has worked with the US division of Peace Boat, however she hopes that she can continue to improve her oral communication skills in conference settings, her organizational skills through event planning, and general methods to reduce her environmental impact. Her focus is currently on the 10th Sustainable Development Goal: reduce inequality within and among countries; she feels that this is an incredibly broad focus, but feels that it is a goal that all people should work towards, and that it can be done through education, governmental policy, and even something as simple as personal communication. Her opinion is that there is no thing too small that individuals and partake in for the betterment of social equality.

Xingyu (Cecilia) Fan is a senior college student at the University of California, San Diego. She majors in International Relations with a minor in Climate Change Studies, hoping to tackle climate change at a global level. Cecilia enjoys public speaking and cross-cultural communication and loves to go hiking in her free time. During her time at UCSD, Cecilia composed an Honors Thesis focusing on facilitating transnational cooperation between China and the U.S to promote renewable energies. She is also currently working with the University’s administrative committee in setting up a climate change course requirement for all future UCSD students. 

Cecilia is most passionate about Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action. Believing that public participation is key to resolving climate change, she hopes to mobilize global efforts from both social and political aspects. At Peace Boat US, she is looking forward to gaining valuable NGO working experiences and honing her research, networking, and communication skills to make greater impacts in the near future.

Thank you to all of our interns for joining us this Spring and for youth interested in being a part of our diverse team of global interns in the future, visit our website here: https://www.peaceboat-us.org/get-involved/intern-with-peace-boat-us

Peace Boat Hibakusha Project and “Flashes of Hope” Film Screening with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – EcoStudio program

Hibakusha stand with nuclear disarmament advocacy banner.

On Tuesday, May 31, 2022, Peace Boat US and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill EcoStudio partnered to stream “Flashes of Hope: Hibakusha Traveling the World.” Peace Boat is an international non-profit NGO based in Japan, that works to build a culture of cooperation and sustainability around the world. The dynamic film featured Peace Boat’s “Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project.” Launched in 2008, this project gave 103 Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) the opportunity to visit 23 ports in 20 countries. They shared their powerful stories, lessons, and messages regarding nuclear disarmament with citizens, organizations, and governments. “Flashes of Hope” follows personal recollections of the Hibakusha, global leaders’ and academics’ viewpoints on the ethics of nuclear weapons, and the work that is being done to abolish them.

Art depicting the traumatic effects of the nuclear bombings.

The documentary began with the Hibakushas’ memories from the bombings. On August 6th, 1945, the uranium bomb “Little Boy” was dropped in Hiroshima. Three days later, the plutonium bomb “Fat Man” was dropped in Nagasaki. Experts explained that the atomic bombing expereince consits of light, heat, and blast. The force of the blast is that of hurricane winds, piercing the human body; and the consequential radiation threatens the future of all life forms in its vicinity. All of these effects happen in an imperceivable amount of time. Survivors of the bombings recollect all kinds of atrocities: mass burning, eyes popping out of sockets, intestine bursts, and buildings on fire. Not only the immediate after effects, but the consequent effects of radiation on survivors, volunteers, and unborn children were also emphasized. These personal narratives acknowledge the genocide that was caused by the United States: Little Boy killed over 140,000 people in Hiroshima, and Fat Man would go on to kill 74,000 more. The pictures and oral testimonies remind us that indiscriminate killings are never justified.

Furthermore, many people often believe that nuclear energy is separate from the atomic bomb chain; however, they both stem from the same systems. Promoting electricity that runs on nuclear energy increases the chances of major accidents. These accidents may result in great amounts of radioactivity being released, damaging life in its vicinity. Moreover, nuclear energy testing sites are causing immense environmental damage in our world.

“A Japanese legend says that if you fold one thousand paper cranes, a wish from the heart will be granted.” Paper cranes are referred to as “orizurus” in Japanese.

Amongst these hardships, orizuru (a Japanese paper crane) became a global symbol of peace. Hope for a more cooperative and unified future are further promoted through Peace Boat’s mission of total eradication of nuclear weapons. The voyages led the Hibakusha to several ports including: Da Nang, Vietnam; Kochi India; Massawa, Eritrea; Suez Canal; Izmir, Turkey; New York, United States; Barcelona, Spain; Las Palmas, Spain; the Dominican Republic; Caracas, Venezuela; Panama Canal; Callao, Peru; Papeete, Tahiti; Auckland, New Zealand; Rabaul, Papua New Guinea; and Sydney, Australia. Through these journeys we see themes of engaging with community leaders, learning about the problems and interests of various communities, and engagement with indigenous peoples. From Agent Orange, an herbicide that was used by the United States in the Vietnamese War, to Nuclear testing by the French throughout the late 1900s, we can observe the covered up narratives and atrocities that governments have conducted over the years. We also conclude the need for community engagement – to uncover these forgotten perspectives and experiences that are an essential part of building peace and constructing a safer future for all.

Hibakusha, in partnership with Peace Boat, are making a powerful impact in the world by sharing their stories through educational events and cross-cultural connections.

The documentary ended by discussing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other nuclear disarmament initiatives.  One of these agreements is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which is  a multilateral agreement that bans nuclear weapons tests and other nuclear explosions. Currently, more than 23,000 nuclear weapons exist on Earth today, 95% belonging to the US and Russia. There is still a lot of work to be done towards the cause, as many of the major powers have yet to take definitive action. Nevertheless, we must always strive to think about civilians, who are most at risk by nuclear weapons, when advocating for and enforcing new policies.

Learn More

Click here to watch the recording of this event.

Link to Video Online : https://vimeo.com/718832310

Thank you to our partners at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the EcoStudio program organizers, our youth leaders and interns.

This program was coordinated by Caroline Kelly and Emily Williams, along with Peace Boat US.

Article was published and written by Sophia Tabibian, Gloria Wu and the Peace Boat US intern team

Peace Boat US Interns, UNC Chapel Hill Students Present at UNC EcoStudio Summit

Peace Boat US interns Caroline Kelly, Casey Meisel and Ella Luebbe presented at the 2022 UNC Chapel Hill EcoStudio Summit on April 18th, paying homage to Executive Director Emilie McGlone’s alma mater. Environmental studies majors of varying years, Caroline, Casey and Ella’s presentations recapping their time at Peace Boat stood out among the EcoStudio presentations as one of the only internships with a global focus and international reach. 

UNC Chapel Hill’s EcoStudio pairs outstanding undergraduate students with faculty and graduate student advisors for environmentally-focused, client-based research, applied learning projects, and internships. Students are matched with organizations and projects ranging from faculty-led initiatives, to local businesses, governments, nonprofits, and even international organizations so they may gain experience working on high-impact, applied learning opportunities to solve sustainability challenges of today. 

Applied learning experiences through the EcoStudio allows UNC students to explore the world of careers in energy, sustainability, environment, policy and planning, and many other fields. In these experiential settings, students can apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world problems, allowing them to make a real difference while developing professional skills that will help them in the job market.

Caroline, Casey and Ella shared about the range of work they engaged with while at Peace Boat, discussed key takeaways and learning experiences, and talked about the various events and stakeholders they were privileged to interact with during their internships. Among the highlights of their work was getting to learn the process of grant writing, drafting press-releases,  environmental advocacy, and cooperation required among timezones and staff operating an international organization. The interns discussed Peace Boat’s work of building a culture of peace and sustainability around the world through learning, activism, advocacy, and travel onboard the hosted voyages and through intentionally designed youth-lead programs, such as the Peace Boat Youth for the SDGs Scholarship program, the Ocean and Climate Youth  Ambassadors Program, and working with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) Youth for Disarmament Program. 

Peace Boat provides youth from around the world with opportunities for learning and activism, while connecting them with a network of global partners working collectively to raise awareness of the intersection of nuclear disarmament and sustainability. Caroline, Casey and Ella echoed one another throughout the presentation on the important role of youth activism and advocacy in the global peace-building and sustainability movement. Absorbing the ethos of Peace Boat’s mission during their time working with the organization, the three expressed gaining confidence and leadership skills, igniting their own local activism within their own communities, and understanding the intersection of the nuclear disarmament movement and climate-action and sustainability. 

Specific projects the interns were excited to share their participation in included the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network, engaging in the 2022 UN ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) Youth Forum, the Chilean Patagonica as a UNESCO World Heritage Site campaign, the UN ECOSOC Caribbean Youth Dialogues, the Kuna Indigenous Fair Trade program for the featuring a women’s empowerment project in Panama and a Sewing Machine Donation program, among others.

Ella Luebbe discussed the people-to-people connections facilitated by Peace Boat, and the cultural exchange the organization fosters through combining travel and education. Casey Miesel described the tangible and transferable skills gained through her time at Peace Boat, and the critical intersections of nonprofit management and strong leadership within environmental work. Caroline Kelly expressed the role of civil society in advancing climate justice along with the role of centering stories, such as those of the Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombs from Hiroshima and Nagasaki) or Climate Youth Ambassadors from Small Island Developing Nations to spread awareness and spur action for the climate and peacebuilding efforts. 

As evidenced by these interns, Peace Boat US provides youth a hands-on, multidimensional and impactful learning experience in the civil-society climate justice movement. Peace Boat US values the dedication of interns like Caroline, Casey and Ella, and acknowledges the advancement of our work through their commitments. 



More about UNC EcoStudio Program :

Pairing outstanding undergraduate students with faculty and graduate student advisors for environmentally-focused, client-based research, applied learning projects, and internships

Offered through the Environment, Ecology and Energy Program and the Institute for the Environment, the faculty and staff of these programs work together to pair students with projects and internships from faculty and community partners, including partners from local businesses, non-profits and municipalities, as well as the UNC campus, for high-impact, applied learning opportunities to solve challenges of today. The EcoStudio facilitates these activities and helps connect you to the right project, partner, or program manager.

An applied learning experience through the EcoStudio allows students to explore the world of careers in energy, sustainability, environment, policy and planning, and many other fields. In these experiential settings, students can apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world problems, allowing them to make a real difference while developing professional skills that will help them in the job market.

EcoStudio students meet weekly with their advisors and other students to talk about their projects, collaborate, and participate in career development workshops. Classroom components of the project foster academic discussion with peers and professors to help students understand the significance of their projects in a broader picture, as well as help the students prepare for the next phase of their professional careers.

EcoStudio UNC Partners

Written by Peace Boat US interns and published by Claire Crimando

Life Below Water and Youth: Connecting Generations to Protect our Ocean – Peace Boat US joins the 2022 ECOSOC Youth Forum

The 2022 ECOSOC Youth Forum began its two day run on April 19th, with many plenary sessions and youth-centered discussions on world issues and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our Peace Boat US interns attended the “Life Below Water and Youth: Connecting Generations to Protect our Ocean” breakout session, discussing how innovations in ocean technology and our societal attitudes can help achieve SDG 14 (Life Below Water).

The panel of speakers featured Gator Halpern from Coral Vita, Palmira Cuellar Ramirez, Brandon Levy from Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Lefteris Arapakis of Enaleia, and Stephanie Schandorf, the associate director of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Institute–each with unique backgrounds and approaches to solving ocean issues. The conversation began with the question of ocean literacy: how should we improve awareness of ocean issues, especially within communities harboring no direct ties? Stephanie suggested integrating the matter further into our curriculums. Despite a growing focus on the climate, we still provide insufficient knowledge of the ocean during schooling, meaning few pursue careers in the sector or study ocean science at a degree level. Pamela added that the focus should not be strictly technical, but with scientific and cultural knowledge coalescing in an ideal world. She believes no member of civil society should be demeaned or considered lesser in their contribution to ocean knowledge, whatever its origin may be. 

Gator and Lefteris shifted the discussion to the private sector, acknowledging the fishing industry and its role in plastic pollution. Traditional market dynamics have not encouraged sustainable ocean solutions, but both believe that for-profit companies still have the potential to be a force for ecological good. Brandon highlighted how working toward innovation in this area had benefited him personally. He believes that the rewarding work he does in the field has allowed him to achieve a degree of self-realization; he goes on to state that mental health is key and that positivity must color inter-organizational dynamics within these fields in order for meaningful work to occur.

The next topic concerned youth involvement in the fight for SDG 14. How can youth contribute and what can be done to help them? Gator believes that less red tape will help youth initiatives get off the ground easier. Young people should be free to experiment with different social enterprises in order to generate something truly novel and transformative. This sentiment was shared across the panel with Stephanie advocating a more humanistic and social approach to ocean advocacy. A more accessible model that does not require scientific qualification. Making the field too academic risks disinterest. Brandon Levy believes that we are already seeing this trend in action with an observable increase in youth attendance to ocean conferences and innovation forums. His organization, the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, is looking to further increase that number through their Ocean Leaders program. They provide funding, mentorship, and capacity-building resources for individuals or organizations working toward SDG 14. At present they have provided support in over 160 countries and will be leading the Youth and Innovation Forum for the upcoming United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon this June, together with UN Global Compact.

While the general outlook of the panelists was positive, with there being a sense of growing momentum about the movement toward greater ocean awareness, there is still a long way to go. Youth participation and ocean literacy may be on this rise but the world still faces a dire challenge that requires innovative solutions and legislative action. Projects investing in the youth are immensely valuable, but work toward SDG 14 must begin today as the responsibility of all. Change must be imminent and far-reaching if we are to effectively address the manifold problems we face.

This article was written by and published by Jess Aitkin

Peace Boat and Tufts University Hibakusha Event 2022 – Working Towards a Nuclear-Free World

On April 11th, 2022, Peace Boat US Intern Nathan Reichert held “Peace Boat and Tufts University’s Amnesty International and Japanese Culture Clubs Present: Every Second Counts for the Survivors.”  The event featured Higashino Mariko, a second-generation Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) who shared the story of her mother’s experience living through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945.

After Ms. Higashino told her and her mother’s story, she answered questions from the Tufts students centering around how youth can contribute to the success of Hibakusha in influencing global politics surrounding nuclear energy and weapons. Ms. Higashino stressed the importance of participating in peace movements and sharing her story with others.

The event provided the Tufts University students with an invaluable learning opportunity to discuss online directly with a second-generation Hibakusha from Hiroshima.  Ms. Higashino’s testimony taught us the importance of nuclear disarmament and sharing Hibakusha’s stories with the younger generation. We may one day see a world without nuclear weapons with these types of international educational efforts. 

Watch the Hibakusha presentation here at this link Video Link:

https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/701044685

Learn more about “Every Second Counts for the Survivors: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project Online” here:
https://peaceboat.org/english/news/hibakusha-project-online

This article was written by and published by Nathan Reichert.

Peace Boat US Joins the Advisory Board of the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network, a United Nations hosted online platform for industry stakeholders and partners worldwide to accelerate the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  

Peace Boat US is proud to announce it has joined the Advisory Board of the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network, which is working to “engage the fashion industry to accelerate action in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” Peace Boat is excited to continue with our sustainable fashion projects as well as develop new ones with the support of the network.

The Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network is a United Nations hosted online platform for industry stakeholders, media, Governments, and UN system entities. The network showcases and enables collaborations that accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Considering the fashion and lifestyle sector’s significant impact on societies and the environment, the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network fosters transparent, inclusive, and transformative engagement of global stakeholders to drive urgent action for sustainability. The network provides an impartial platform for the industry and the UN system. Its key objective is to mobilize expertise, innovation, technology, and resources towards a sustainable and inclusive COVID-19 recovery, with the Sustainable Development Goals as a guiding framework.

The Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network is a joint initiative of the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the Fashion Impact Fund and the Division for Sustainable Development Goals – United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The leading entities of the network convene periodic events aligned with key meetings on the UN calendar and publish reports on the network’s achievements.

The fashion industry is responsible for approximately 8-10% of carbon emissions, 20% of wastewater worldwide, and 35% of microplastics in the oceans. Peace Boat has always put sustainability and furthering the SDGs at the forefront of their work, and supporting sustainable fashion is a large part of that. The organization has worked on multiple fashion sustainability projects in the past, including working alongside DAWN – the Development Action Women Network, donating sewing machines to the Kuna indigenous community, and creating events with the theme of Fashion x Oceans during Earth Day and the UN World Oceans Week in New York City. 

DAWN – Supporting local fashion with the Development Action for Women Network

The Development Action for Women Network (DAWN) empowers migrant Filipino women in Japan and helps those who have returned to the Philippines reintegrate back into society. 

Most of these women have been abandoned by the fathers of the children they had while in Japan. DAWN helps these women set up sustainable income primarily through sewing and handloom weaving in an alternative livelihood program called Sikhay. Through this program these women create Fair Trade fashion products such as wrap-around skirts, bags, scarves, and more. It gives these women the skills necessary to run these businesses on their own so they can develop confidence and independence.

Peace Boat has worked with DAWN in advocating for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant women and their children for over 25 years. Peace Boats sells the products these women create as part of a fair trade project and donates 100% of the profits back to the women in the community.  

Fair Trade Fashion with the Kuna Indigenous Community

The Kuna are one of seven indigenous tribes in Panama and have been historically marginalized. The tribe specializes in making the beautiful Mola, a vividly colored cloth used in traditional outfits that expresses their culture. The women in the community who weave the Mola use elaborate techniques such as layering cloth like appliqués and sewing them with threads as if drawing a picture. Each Mola tells a special story and shares a cultural aspect of the Kuna indigenous ancestral practices.

When visiting the village where they live, the Kuna community leaders taught Peace Boat volunteers the traditional techniques of the Mola. This is not typically shared with people outside of the tribe, and the Kuna held this workshop as a sign of the mutual friendship and respect between Peace Boat and the local community artisans.

Peace Boat US’s special project entitled the Music & Art Peace Academy (MAPA), together with partner non-profit organizations Parties4Peace, and DCTV have been fundraising to provide requested materials for the women in the village to continue their work.

Peace Boat has also donated eight sewing machines to the local community center to make the Mola traditional designs with the indigenous community leaders as a part of the UN Women’s Step It Up initiative. They continue to support the Kuna women in their Fair Trade Mola handicraft.

Fashion x Ocean 

At the Global Fashion Exchange “Swapteria” Earth Day event, designers came together to exchange clothing and raise awareness for sustainability, as well as combat fast fashion in the industry. Peace Boat’s exhibition, Fashion x Ocean, which was started as a program during the United Nations World Oceans week to showcase sustainable fashion from designers worldwide, with a particular focus on ocean plastic and pollution. 

People who donated clothing were given a token to swap for another sustainable fashion item at the event. The swap signifies a less wasteful way of obtaining clothing. These items live full lives from closet to closet instead of being discarded after a few uses. Fashion x Oceans is an ongoing sustainable fashion initiative made by Peace Boat and continues to educate on the importance of conscious fashion and lifestyles.

Peace Boat is eager to continue to support sustainable initiatives in the fashion industry as a new addition to the Advisory Board of the United Nations Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network–to ultimately achieve the twelfth Sustainable Development Goal: Responsible Consumption and Production.

One Year Since the Declaration of the United Nations Ocean Decade for Sustainable Development: Peace Boat US joins the US National Committee in Celebration of the Ocean Decade U.S. Nexus


On February 1st, Peace Boat was pleased to celebrate with the US National Committee for the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’s first anniversary. The US National Committee for the Ocean Decade  February Meeting  served to summarize their year of work towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while also showcasing their partners. Over 100 attendees from more than 35 organizations heard exciting updates from the U.S. Youth Advisory Council, Heirs to Our Oceans, and the Tula Foundation Decade Collaborative Center for the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

US National Committee of the UN Ocean Decade highlights PeaceBoat US’s Decade-related efforts for youth empowerment, ocean conservation and climate action

The committee meeting, headed by Larry Meyer, began by highlighting the themes and principles which govern their work, and in particular the report which they have been tasked to create by the US government. Mr. Meyer presented “Six Crosscutting Themes for the US Contribution to the United Nations Ocean Decade,” which included looking for ocean-based solutions to climate issues as well as researching strategies to address challenges that urban coastal living creates for the surrounding environment. The committee’s partners are engaged in collective action and are devoted to solving these problems. Partners were featured alongside discussions on the theme of ocean-oriented action. Peace Boat is proud to be amongst these member organizations and is grateful for being featured at the meeting as well as on the committee’s website

Mr. Meyer’s presentation of the Six Crosscutting Themes for the US Contribution to the Ocean Decade of Science for Sustainable Development

The discussion continued with a focus on Youth in relation to the UN Ocean Decade, with  presentations by Chloe McKenna and Shiv Goel of the US Youth Advisory Council (YAC). They stressed the importance of local action and instilling the urgency of ocean issues in youth globally. Their work goes beyond grassroots campaigning, with the YAC holding several meetings with members of Congress in the Capitol. Their future projects include a podcast, to further their goal of outreach and exposure for ocean issues, as well as a youth summit to be held in early June 2022. This was followed by comments from April Peebles of Heirs to Our Oceans (H2OO), who shares the YAC’s concern for the importance of youth engagement. To help address this issue they have created a toolkit, helping young people to set up their own youth advisory councils in their own countries and areas.

The faces of the first cohort of US Youth Advisory Council (YAC) who kicked off the Ocean Decade together with Heirs to Our Oceans and youth leaders.

The theme of local action was continued with the introduction of the Tula Foundation’s project: the Ocean Decade Regional Collaborative Center for the Northeast Pacific. In collaboration with the Hakai Institute, the group works toward long term protection and scientific research in the British Columbia area. Rebecca Martone’s presentation introduced the group’s Ocean Decade 10 Challenges as well as the Ocean Decade 7 Outcomes, all of which can be found on their website. To achieve these goals, she stressed the importance of collaboration between civil society groups and the involvement of Indigenous leaders. 

US National Committee of the Ocean Decade highlights their 2021 feats in a snapshot

Peace Boat US looks forward to seeing all that these initiatives bring and is excited to continue collaborating for the good and sustainability of the world’s oceans. We hope the Ocean Decade U.S. members will also join us for the UN World Oceans Week of activities this year in June! For more details, visit http://www.unworldoceansday.org

This article was written by Peace Boat US interns and published by Claire Crimando.

Peace Boat US joins ECOSOC forum “Building back better from COVID-19 while Advancing 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”

Opening Session

The Peace Boat US youth representatives  attended the 2022 United Nations ECOSOC Partnership Forum held on February 2, 2022. This year’s theme was “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Multiple actors and stakeholders participated, including governments, the United Nations system, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, scientists, academia, youth and others. The forum opened with a call to action demanding solutions and innovations to address the decades of development which were reversed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Overhead view of ECOSOC 2022 global representatives in the socially-distanced assembly hall.

Participants debated solutions and policies to recover from the pandemic and accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda, guided by the UN SDGs. At the center of the messages shared in the opening session by H.E. Kelapile, Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed and Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher was the need to address global inequalities which have been exponentially exacerbated and exposed by COVID-19. Inequalities in resource distribution, as highlighted by the “vaccine apartheid” and access to COVID-19 vaccine doses, big-pharma corruption and deregulation, and gender-based violence increases were presented as major themes to be discussed and debated at the forum. Speakers laid bare the realities of the pandemic’s disproportionate effects globally and stressed the need for multilateral cooperation. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, it is said that a new billionaire has been created every 26 hours. While a select few may profit from a  change politically during the pandemic, the Global South and developing countries still continue to see unprecedented rises in poverty and fatalities associated with COVID-19. Oxfam Executive Director Bucher closed the opening session concluding that both access to healthcare and resources are essential in the global fight to overcome COVID-19:  stating, “your location is a better indicator if you’ll die from covid rather than your age.” Bucher voiced the sentiments to be echoed throughout the forum, declaring “inequality kills when healthcare is a privilege for the rich and not a right for all.”

Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher discusses global inequities
escalated by the pandemic.

Plenary Session

The Plenary Session was attended by all forum participants. Global representatives from each nation opened the session with a statement specific to COVID-19’s  impact in their country. “No one is safe until everyone is safe” stated the French District Representative on behalf of the EU, in an effort to highlight the global vaccine divide and countries being crushed by debt and lack of resources. Shared sentiments included the need to work universally and multilaterally to protect vulnerable communities, invest in resilient infrastructure, close the digital divide and form a collective response to COVID-19 and combat climate change. Accountability and global governance were additionally present in various nation’s testimonials. Elena Marmo, Women’s Major Group Representative spoke of the urgent need for systemic restrengthening of the public sector, the dangers of placing too much power in the hands of the private sector, and promoted public ownership of UN programs. Many countries expressed building back better must also include both physical infrastructure, the building of partnerships, and the rebuilding of global healthcare systems. 

Bridging The Gap: Addressing The Vacuum In Multilateral Governance Of Digital Technology To Close The Digital Divide And Support Efforts To Leave No One Behind

As part of the 2022 ECOSOC Partnership Forum, Peace Boat attended a spotlight session on the issue of the ‘digital divide’. A broad subject, with discussion spanning from the sale of data and algorithmic intelligence still conforming to imperialistic logics, as well as concern surrounding how little power our institutions hold to legislate against technology’s negative externalities. 

The first speaker, Dr Clovis Freire, replied by highlighting the disparity in connectivity between the global north and south. Attributing this to the vast difference in affordability. A service which costs 2% of average GDP per capita in the 5 richest countries scales to 20x the average in the world’s 5 poorest countries. Dr Freire contends that the inequitable distribution of technology at large reinforces current inequalities. But this issue is not necessarily a product of modernity, but rather a trend that can be observed throughout different technological ‘booms’ since the industrial revolution. Advances in industry never benefit all simultaneously, but rather exacerbate social problems. 

Ms. Soledad Vogliano, part of the action group on Erosion, Technology, and Concentration (ETC Group), agreed with Dr Freire. Elaborating on some modern industries in the digital field that exemplify this disparity, with data infrastructure being the chief culprit. It is a business almost exclusively controlled by wealthy countries from the global north, with much of its user base being located elsewhere. Mr Parminder Singh of IT for Change highlights how the majority of data is being collected from individuals in nation’s poorer than the center which processes the user’s interests and wants. Creating something of a neo-colonial relationship that becomes increasingly worrying as the practice expands with heightened digitalization, particularly in the domestic sphere. 

Ms. Ruth Hancock, a representative of the Landworkers Alliance, also referenced the trend of the increased encroachment of the digital in her field of agroecological farming. Her experience is that it robs independent workers of their agency in favor of centralizing services at higher fees. Despite apparent convenience for the consumer she believes that this trend is a net negative. Forcing many in her field out of business. 

Dr Clovis Freire believes that stronger institutions and stringent policy is needed to curtail the digital divide. Firms on the cutting edge of tech effectively legislate for themselves considering how slowly most bodies usually are to react to innovation, which is why he believes new groups must be created to make policies proactively for the benefit of all. In the meantime while his envisioned forum doesn’t exist, he believes that innovations from developing countries will naturally have a more equitable ethos and we should support their blossoming tech economies. Ms. Soledad Vogliano echoes this sentiment, believing in bottom-up vetting before commercial availability.

While Mr. Parminder Singh also believes we should work multilaterally and internationally to provide a check to the tech industry, he goes a step further. Advocating for the dissolution of larger conglomerates in the digital sector, in favor of a more domestic approach. He repeated his absolute belief in the power of institutions in the Q&A section that followed the main discussion when asked about cryptocurrency and its potential to liberate, which he rebuked. Preferring a more solid body to curtail overextensions of power, rather than something so chaotic, decentralized, and liable to intermittent failure. 

Overall, the forum was a fruitful discussion of a pertinent question in the information age. The digital divide is not an issue to be ignored, nor will it ebb away with time. It needs to be addressed now lest it be allowed to get worse.

COVID-19 Vaccines For All – Promoting Vaccine Equity And Vaccines For All 

The COVID-19 Vaccines For All – Promoting Vaccine Equity And Vaccines For All kicked off with the president of ECOSOC of the UN, H.E. Mr. Collen Vixen Kelapile, delivering the startling message that “no one is safe until everyone is safe.” He further highlighted the importance of increasing vaccine equity worldwide by discussing the unequal access to resources across the world. Kelapile called for ensuring funding for disproportionately impacted countries, pledged to utilize the full strength of ECOSOC to identify policy solutions and implement policies to increase vaccine equity, and recollected that ECOSOC has shipped millions of doses to underdeveloped countries as part of a major global multilateral effort to ship life-saving tools. He finished with a call to “work with companies to at least double vaccine production.” 

The first panelist was Ms. Sylvia Paola Mendoza Elguea, the Second Committee Delegate from the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN. She recalled how Mexico has worked to contribute to COVAX and signed multilateral agreements with private companies and other governments to distribute 150-200 million vaccines across the Latin American region. We then heard from Ms. Gita Sen of the Public Health Foundation of India who highlighted the gender inequality arising from the pandemic, including that women are experiencing more mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic. Ms. Sangeeta Shashikant of the Third World Network then contributed that to control the pandemic, we must control intellectual property monopolies and get the vaccine recipe to lower-income countries. Finally, we heard from Mr. Ajay K Jha, the Co-Chair of the Major Groups and other Stakeholders Coordination Mechanism in Dehli. He finished the panel by emphasizing that we have not yet passed the worst of the pandemic and that future approaches to ending the pandemic should be based on human rights and that the world must eliminate vaccine nationalism.

Experiences From Partnering During The COVID-19 Pandemic 

This segment of the forum commenced by introducing David Nabarro from the World Health Organization who discussed the effects of COVID-19 and what makes for effective mitigating action against it. He emphasized the need for a total societal response to work towards meeting the SDGs in light of such a challenging and unpredictable virus. It became apparent that stakeholders at the local, national, and global levels must find a common purpose for their work based on mutual respect in order to form effective partnerships. Acknowledging COVID-19’s inevitable presence beyond 2022, he stressed that collaborators who are sensitive to other’s situations and honest with their own intentions will help curb transmission rates globally. 

Dr. Emily Clough and Dr. Graham Long from Newcastle University echoed and supported Mr. Nabarro’s statements in their presentation analyzing partnerships for the SDGs. From their surveys, the majority of stakeholders cited intra-partnership dynamics as more detrimental to progress than the challenges of the subjects of their work; however, many commented on how there seems to be insufficient accountability for governments to follow through on their promises. Many survey participants found partnerships to be extremely helpful for creating new solutions, thus, we must continue building our networks while prioritizing the need to hold others accountable. 

Panelist Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of United Nations Global Compact, highlighted that because partnerships have been forming more rapidly than before due to the hastened pace of the pandemic, we need to shift to forming deeper and more strategic bonds that will have a lasting, sustainable impact. She also acknowledged that private sectors have made progress in uniting to tackle the global vaccine supply chain issue although equitable vaccine distribution still remains a major issue. 

Panelist Sascha Gabizon, from the Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), spoke on the importance of including all voices in the decision-making process, including, more Indigenous and local groups. She also supported including the private sector to help with funding, but stressed that we must ensure that they are complying with the missions of each group and not working against the goals. 

Panelist Philip Schönrock, Director of Cepei, a think-tank based out of Bogota, Colombia, agreed with Sascha Gabizon regarding a lack of a diverse and varied stakeholder inclusion regarding decision-making at the highest level. He summarized that there is a lack of data to track stakeholders’ progress of the SDGs, and without major data availability improvements, we cannot improve accountability. 

Panelists share during Experiences From Partnering During The COVID-19 Pandemic 

Achieving The SDGs And A Sustainable And Inclusive Recovery From The COVID-19 Pandemic Through Partnerships And Sound Governance: The Vital Role Of Local And Regional Governments 

Throughout the Achieving The SDGs And A Sustainable And Inclusive Recovery From The COVID-19 Pandemic Through Partnerships And Sound Governance: The Vital Role Of Local And Regional Governments, multiple international leaders discussed the effects of the pandemic on the current state of the SDGs around the world, and how local initiatives can reverse these adverse effects and successfully implement the SDGs in communities worldwide.

Leaders from around the world such as mayors, government staff, and leaders from different international organizations spoke about the importance of local governments in realizing the SDGs. They dove into how citizens are the prime target for achieving the SDGs because once you get the citizenry on board, they can change the behavior of elected politicians. Thomas George of UNICEF expanded upon this notion and discussed youth participation specifically to lead local initiatives. He finished off with emphasizing the importance of communication between cities so other cities can learn from one another about what works. and what does not.

Indigenous Knowledge Research Infrastructure (Ikri) A Tool To Reach The Sustainable Development Goals

In this seminar Dali Angel, Freddy Mamani, and Milind Pimprikar amongst others representing indigenous communities the world over, introduced us to the Indigenous Knowledge Research Infrastructure. Debuted at last year’s UN Food Systems Summit, its goal is to integrate indigenous knowledge into modern agriculture with the aim of increasing worldwide sustainability and food security. The speakers believed that the creation of this organization is a necessary step in granting indigenous knowledge the respect that it deserves, but has been denied for many years.

This article was written by Peace Boat US Interns and published by Claire Crimando

Hollins University Interns Reflect on their time at Peace Boat US

Interns and youth volunteers are some of the most integral pieces of the Peace Boat US organization and the vision that we, together, create. Today we say thank you  to two of our Hollins University interns, Sandipa Lamichhane and Ellie Song, who reflect on their experiences in January with Peace Boat  US during their Signature Academic Internship program  below.

Peace Boat US offers our interns, students from around the globe, the opportunity to jump into our work, build leadership skills, become passionate about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and actively participate in international efforts for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and the peace building process. Internships with Peace Boat US are highly educational, collaborative, experiential, and equally challenging and inspiring.

Interns and volunteers support program outreach for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Partnership building amongst civil society and United Nations organizations, office administration, attend events at the UN Headquarters as well as online, representing Peace Boat US as youth delegates, support campaigns, projects, and educational programs through social media engagement, and write news and blog articles about our activities.

On the final day of their internships, Sandipa and Ellie share their experience with Peace Boat US and discuss the impact Peace Boat has had on their future goals.

Sandipa Lamichhane (Left), Ellie Song (Right)

“I did not expect to learn so much about the disparity between the presentation of nuclear technology as a viable solution (which was how it had been taught to me) and the actualities of its problems and its history.”

Ellie Song

How did you learn about the Peace Boat US internship program at Hollins University? 

Sandipa: “I learned about it through the Hollins Signature Academic Internship program, and I did my own online research. I also spoke with some of the previous interns to know how interns actually work at Peace Boat US.”

Ellie: “I learned about the Peace Boat US internship program from reading a couple of the articles on the Hollins University website that featured students who had interned with Peace Boat US previously and their experiences.”

What did you learn the most during your internship?

Sandipa: “During this internship, my goal was to learn as much as I could. The main thing I learned was the importance of teamwork and communication.”

Ellie: “I learned a lot about the history of the development of nuclear technology and the significant problems regarding its exploitation and mistreatment of Indigenous and First Nation communities.”

Did you learn anything that you did not expect during this month?

Sandipa: “Yes, I did not know how nuclear weapons could affect the world including every creature putting pressure on the environmental factors.”

Ellie: “I did not expect to learn so much about the disparity between the presentation of nuclear technology as a viable solution (which was how it had been taught to me) and the actualities of its problems and its history which I had no idea about nevertheless encountered and which I think needs to be acknowledged and taught in a more widespread manner.”

Please share some of the events you attended during the internship.

Sandipa: “I attended the Reverse the Trend event about nuclear disarmament and First Nations communities, and I also had the opportunity to attend a Grant Writing Workshop to learn how we can find more possibilities to fund the Youth for the SDGs scholarship program.”

Ellie: “I also attended The Reverse the Trend’s “Empowering First Nation and Indigenous Communities, which shed light on the communities affected by nuclear testing in the United States and other areas of the world”

Do you feel you gained any new skills or improved skills during this time?

Sandipa: “Yes definitely. I always wanted to learn WordPress and during my internship, I got a chance to look at a WordPress draft and edit it. Also, I edited videos and presentations through Canva for Peace Boat US.”

Ellie: “I think I was able to work on my writing skills- conveying information accurately and concisely in articles, grant applications, and social media captions. I also feel that I was put in a “work environment” and gained the communication skills and practices needed for that environment.”

What would be your message for other students at Hollins University who would like to apply for the internship?

Sandipa: “If you are a student who wants to work to build a sustainable world by involving in different programs and believes in networking, civil society, traveling, learning, curious about depth cause, teamwork, skills growth then you should definitely apply to Peace Boat US as an intern.”

Ellie: “I would encourage those interested to apply!”

Did you learn more about the SDGs during this internship?  Which SDG is most important to you and why?

Sandipa: “I am still in the process of that. All the SDGs are equally important to end discrimination. If I have to choose one, then UN SDG  #10 for Reducing inequality within and among countries as I believe in equity, justice, and an individual right to sustain freely in the world with his unique ideas and thoughts. No human being should be compared on the basis of language, diversity, color, race, caste, and economic status which I think is the cause of all the ongoing issues in the world today.”

Ellie: “Initially I wasn’t aware of the SDGs or the ways that Peace Boat US aligns itself with them. I would say that SDG #1 for the eradication of all forms of poverty is most important to me because I believe its eradication is an eradication of inequality. “

Any final comments about the experience that you would like to share?

Sandipa: “Overall experience was just so great with the opportunities to meet all the interns virtually, attend workshops, learn things, and work together. I would definitely want to work again with Peace Boat US. Also, I am amazed by the Our Ocean Conference that gives a number of youth a chance to travel and make friends during the proccess.”

Ellie: “I’m grateful for this experience and to the Director, Emilie McGlone, for opening this experience to me and to the intern team”

Peace Boat US offers an excellent opportunity to gain insight and experience in the civil society, non-profit, non-governmental field, with one of the most unique and interesting NGO’s in the world – experience that will help you stand out.

Interested in getting involved? Learn more about the internship and volunteer opportunities with Peace Boat US, here: https://www.peaceboat-us.org/get-involved/intern-with-peace-boat-us/

This article was written by the Peace Boat US interns and published by Claire Crimando

Peace Boat US Attends Reverse the Trend’s Empowering First Nations and Indigenous Communities”

Reverse the Trend is a non-profit organization who works towards mobilizing youth to champion the causes of climate change and nuclear disarmament. This past Tuesday, the organization held an event, co-sponsored by Peace Boat US in partnership with various NGOs, entitled, “Empowering First Nations and Indigenous Communities: Overcoming the Ecological and Humanitarian Threats of the Nuclear Fuel Trajectory and Nuclear Weapons”. The discussion was led by members of Indigenous communities alongside experts in nuclear issues whose stories and perspectives defied the mainstream, rose-colored narrative that nuclear technology is a sustainable and effective tool in the fight against climate change. 

Some of the event’s attendees pictured in a virtual group photo including Peace Boat US representatives

Moderated by Rooj Ali, the discussion featured the following guest speakers: Dr. Katlyn Turner, Esther Yazzie-Lewis, Peyton Pitawanakwat, Benetick Kabua Maddison, and Prerna Gupta; all of whom effectively highlighted the critical failure to include Indigenous and First Nation peoples in nuclear fuel and weapons discussions. Crucially, the speakers highlighted experiences in which these communities have worked together with activists and policymakers to renounce nuclear weapons and appropriately remediate the environment while urging the establishment of more of this communication to bring about change. 

Each guest speaker spoke of their experience with nuclear technology

Dr. Katlyn Turner, an advisor for Reverse the Trend and Research Scientist who focuses on principles of anti-racist technology design and inclusive innovation practices, opened the discussion by striking down the branding of nuclear energy as the only viable solution to climate change, underscoring the technology’s framing to be dangerous and inaccurate. According to Turner, mainstream conversations about nuclear energy have never addressed the field’s direct link to racism and colonialism–as highlighted by the event’s speakers. 

The following speaker, Esther Yazzie-Lewis, shared her work translating Navajo testimonies chronicling the detrimental effects of uranium mining that started in the 1940’s, which contaminated the land and became directly responsible for human suffering. The absence of safety gear and the lack of information surrounding the hazards of uranium led to the exposure of the entire Navajo community to the metal. This disregard of the health and safety of Indigenous communities has played out in Misswehzahging (Mississauga First Nation) and the Marshall Islands as well. 

Raised in Misswehzahging located in Ontario, Canada, Peyton Pitawanakwat, detailed the presence of a uranium refinery that resulted in the substantial elevation of uranium levels following its arrival and the subsequent harm inflicted on the vegetation and aquatic life. As a Marshall Islands native, Benetick Kabua Maddison spoke of the decade-long US occupation of the islands for nuclear testing. The American government’s 67 tests–equivalent to 7,200 Hiroshima bombs–led to widespread radiation that contaminated the Islands and resulted in biological, ecological, and cultural consequences still prevalent within the Marshallese community today. According to Maddison, the repercussions in the use of nuclear technology manifested itself in the form of cancers, birth defects, forced relocation, and reliance on unhealthy, processed foods for the Marshallese. Of the numerous nuclear tests, Castle Bravo (March 1, 1954) stands out as the largest detonated weapon with a force one thousand times that of Hiroshima, leaving a crater at Bikini Atoll that vaporized 3 islands. 

Maddison highlights different forms of activism against the proliferation of nuclear technology

The chronicling of nuclear energy’s destructive history was accompanied by progress made by the activists. Yazzie-Lewis recalled the cooperation between advocates and organizations in 2005 to ban uranium mines; the Navajo nation was the first Indigenous nation to ban uranium mining and also held the first World Uranium hearing. Pitawanakwat advocates for the protection of the environment in her formulation of the Mississauga First Nation (MFN) Internal Nuclear Working Group which developed a written submission advocating for MFN. Maddison highlighted activism apparent in the RMI/NAPF Nuclear Lawsuits which brought global attention to these issues despite their unsuccessful conclusions in court. He also touched upon the behind the scenes work to get over 190 countries to sign onto the High Ambition Coalition formed by the Marshallese government at the Paris Climate Talks. Activism also extends to the use of songs, poems, paintings, and drawings to protest the expansion of nuclear technology and share the stories that highlight the danger of this energy.

Within the chat section, attendees were active in voicing questions or comments–further facilitating an open dialogue on the impact of nuclear technology and placing importance on making the fight one of many, one of all. 

 Demonstrating their gratitude to the speakers for taking their time to talk, one attendee expressed their hope of having “…more webinars of this sort… as we all need to hear the teaching of uranium.”

Guest speakers answer audience questions in a Q&A section of the event

The session emphasized the dual progress of nuclear technology and the activism against its proliferation by Indigenous and First Nation communities through these key speakers. They broke down the facade that surrounds nuclear energy by telling the history and consequences of nuclear advancement as lived by their communities. Their testimonies are essential to recognizing the problems in this field for what they are, as noted by Dr. Turner: “[Nuclear energy] is not a tool that combats climate change. This is not a tool kit that advances equity. This is not a tool with a neutral history or a net positive history.” 

To learn more about Reverse the Trend, visit their website here:
https://rttreversingthetrend.org/

This article was written by the Peace Boat US interns and published by Emma Cerra