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Miss Am Samoa urges Pacific peoples to come together to fight climate change

Miss American Samoa Kauhani Mea’alofa Teisa Fuimaono
Climate change is her pre-pageant interview topic

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The detrimental effects of climate change and the impact it has on American Samoa and other Pacific islands, is why facing this as a united Pacific family is important, Miss American Samoa Kauhani Mea’alofa Teisa Fuimaono said during the pre-pageant interview yesterday as part of the activities for the 34th Miss Pacific Islands Pageant taking place this week in Apia.

In American Samoa, it was evident after the recent king tides that seawalls “only provided [a] short term solution.” 

 “Unity is our strength in fighting climate change,” said Kauhani.

The Miss American Samoa spoke about climate change; how climate change affects American Samoa and what action as a Pacific family is needed to fight climate change.

 “Climate change is long term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. According to the United Nations, human activities have been the main driver of climate change due to burning fossil fuel, like coal oil and gas.

“Currently our Pacific islands are facing tragic impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, causing erosion and coastal flooding.

 “Now how does climate change affect American Samoa?” she asked.

According to Kauhani, the US territory has a fragile eco system. “The most common threat from climate change that American Samoa is facing today is sea level rising.

 “According to the American Samoa Environment Protection Agency majority of our  population resides along the shore line and the rise from sea level will threaten homes and relocate our residencies.

 “Any loss of coastal land will disturb the delicate balance of our territory's own ability to provide resources such as food and local building materials.”

She said most of American Samoa’s water supply comes from underground fresh water and that any rise in sea level will likely compromise our freshwater via seawater intrusion.  “Therefore it is important for us to act in a manner sensible to our survival and encourage others to act in such a way.”

She said the territory’s solution to climate change (aside from educating our people about the climate change and its impact) is our government built sea walls to prevent erosion and coastal flooding due to sea level rising.

 “In July 2022, American Samoa was hit by a king tide that caused a lot of damage to coastal areas.

 “The rising sea levels still managed to cause coastal flooding and erosion therefore these seawalls only provided short term solutions.

 “However AS-EPA encourages American Samoa to take an active stance in combatting climate.

 “What can we do as a Pacific family to fight climate change?” asked the Miss American Samoa.

 “We need to clear our streams and make sure that trash does not go into our ocean because it would kill coral reefs. We should not dump chemical and wastewater because it contributes to damaging our coral reefs; replanting mangroves can also help delay or prevent erosion.

And we can keep our reef ecosystem healthy by not overfishing, which is very important to help the coral reefs.”

Kauhani said climate change is occurring at an alarming rate and threatening the Pacific Islands today.

 “As Pacific people unity is our strength coming together to have conversations about the impact of climate change and finding better ways to strengthen our community and address this will help all of us.  I know our tiny islands American Samoa are living through the impact of climate change; specifically sea level rising.

 “I believe that any and all solutions to this problem require resolving and commitment from all of us working together.

 “Strength in unity is key because the 98% of what is ours is the ocean our environment is our home when we take care of our island our island takes care of us.

“Let us come together and fight climate change.”