This island is a strong candidate to begin our World Team pilot project. We are creating life systems that renew an island, build a resilient village that will be a small-scale experiment of an idealistic utopian island, putting the interconnected global goals into action. This island will be designed to organically be a place that optimizes systems of life that show what is best for human innovation and includes an eco-resort that will do more than using tidal energy.
With the USA being the only country to withdraw from the global Paris Agreement, and as the rest of the world comes together, our non-profit World Team Now decided it is best to start and be in action on an island, to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi exclaimed. We are pleased that our two home states California and New York were represented by true leaders in action, with Governor Jerry Brown, Michael Bloomberg, Arnold Schwartzenegger and a team of others in Germany at COP23.
This is the first time Fiji, a small island nation (Republic) leads the UNFCCC, and we hope with the innovation on entrepreneurial mechanisms Fiji will lead not just the UN, but actually the people of the world for a more balanced future. We at World Team Now are starting small hereon an island in Fiji, now.
Here is a little video of our journey to meet with the villagers, made by Ramanu, from Koro Sun Resort.
World Team follows Fiji’s lead in the Pacific Island Region as we journey through Eco resorts, transforming islands. Recent catastrophic events have put the spotlight on the vulnerability of islands to the forces of climate change and the world is taking notice. As World Team Now’s increasing focus is on islands and we write about their transformation and simultaneously work to chart a future, this blog becomes more relevant. Many islands are now facing a dynamic similar to what Fiji and other islands have already gone through— in the recent past, for example, four hurricanes have hit island regions in the United States territories and beyond. To re-develop these islands, in the same way, invites a repetition of earlier flaws in infrastructure development, especially considering the increased risks due to climate change. Instead, there is an opportunity in the midst of the crises to make different choices about how to restructure, a chance to evolve and learn from the past. In the process of restoration, Fiji’s leading Eco approach is of value to observe, including their different choices about energy ownership. The use and allowance of community renewable energy microgrids, and how to collectively give aid to one another is worth consideration. Together, let’s look at some islands resorts of Fiji.
So too, our love for the ocean is individual and our work with the dolphins and floating in the ocean is a personal expression, eyes around the world have been opened to the world within the ocean, due to the gifts that Jacque Yves Cousteau passed forward. There are sweet memories of how Jacque Cousteau inspired us with his words and actions at the U.N. ‘s Earth Summit and Global Forum in Rio in 1992, three years into the journey of the World Team.
The grand reopening of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort (JMC), in Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu, continues the legacy of ocean exploration that lives on for the whole Cousteau family, with educational programs and experiential activities related to everything that has to do with the ocean. Like sea glass that is tossed in the ocean’s current to become more luminescent and smooth over time, the resort’s transformation mirrors the fabulous recovery after the Category 5 cyclone, TC Winston. The JMC bears the Cousteau name, now an iconic brand for ocean exploration and education, thanks to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the Marine Biologist, Diver and Explorer, being a true pioneer for the oceans and all species that make the ocean their home.
The ocean philosophy of the Cousteaus, comes alive here at the resort, passing the love of the ocean forward to future generations. The Jacques Yves Cousteau said, “People protect what they love.” This resort and its programs help continue the legacy of giving back experientially, as Jacques Cousteau’s philosophy is more than mere words; “When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.”The experiential educator Jacques Cousteau not only passed down his passion and love of the ocean to Jean-Michel Cousteau (his son) with his non-profit Ocean Futures Society, but his living legacy continues to inspire the next generation of The Cousteau Ocean Legacy. Each Cousteau family member contributes, with a diversity of personalities to express their love of the ocean.
“It takes generosity to discover the whole through others. If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert” –Jacques Cousteau
Down to the next generation, to Aquanaut Fabien Cousteau, JMC’s his grandson, who now carries exploration to new depths with the newly launched Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center. Fabien continues his stand for the ocean as he champions sharks, and most recently broke his Grandfather’s world record, staying underwater for 31 days. World Team Now applauds the Cousteaus’ collective vision, for us each to use our lives, with the gifts we each have, to leave a legacy that embraces, each person, species and what can be contributed to the oceans and our common home. Jean-Michel too has done that and passed it forward. World Team Now aligns with Fabien Cousteau’s approach to ocean education and gave him the “Pioneer for the Planet” award for what he is envisioning now.
Celine Cousteau, Jean Michel’s daughter, is also doing her part to expand the family legacy with Cause Films and preservation of species on the land and under the water. Her works range from indigenous tribes in the Amazon to exploring possibilities on Easter Island. The legacy of the whole family continues passing forward a wealth of knowledge that has wisdom for us all. The extended Cousteau inspires family’s efforts altogether support our message; that there is a place for everyone.
The Cousteau lineage comes with political will that is a timeless call for the oceans, and humanity’s role in living with what dominates our planet. Cousteau’s stand was successful in influencing two USA Presidents, of different political parties, both to see the value of the ocean and to take action to designate, first, a 1,200-mile chain of Northwest Hawaiian Islands a Marine National Monument, and now, through President Obama, a four-times-expanded protected area of the ocean. Even the adjacent area around the JMC in Fiji has now become a Marine preserve and the Cousteau team is working to create more marine protected areas that will hopefully remain for future generations. Here is a chance to Explore the Pacific Island Marine Sanctuaries with Jean-Michel Cousteau (his most recent book),
In Fiji and other areas of the tropical Pacific, many villages have established marine protected areas where, in order to ensure a healthy ecosystem, the local residents don’t allow fishing. Enforcing the ban on fishing depends on community support for protecting the reefs, which are part of the local culture and can provide economic benefits through tourism and spillover of fish to the areas where harvesting is allowed.
At the Jean-Michel Cousteau (JMC) Resort, there is an ocean experience or program for every age. The JMC rides on the legend of passing the ocean wisdom of stewardship to all in the family, to explore, teach, research, and inspire others with ocean adventures, also in the luxury resort setting. Cousteau’s mastery in passing forward an underwater experience through television, film, and every source of presentation imaginable continues as the heart of the experiential education and woven through the resort experience.
While there, you can go for one of the extraordinary scuba dive adventures. More advanced divers can get their Dive Certification from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, some of the best scuba pros in the world. Leading ecological tourism, Jean-Michel Cousteau created L’Aventure, a flagship dive operation at the ocean side Fiji resort. A leading eco-advantage at the JMC is the resident marine biologist Johnny Singh, who does more than lead incredible scuba diving and snorkel adventures. In the evenings, he gives an educational slide show with topics that range from “Coral Reefs” to “Shark’s Biodiversity.” There are over a dozen dive sites to choose from, and one of the top ten dive locations in the world is Namena Island Reserve, an uninhabited protected area with a fish and bird sanctuary. On a Namena dive, there are fabulous opportunities to see larger species, including reef, white, and black tooth sharks, tuna, barracuda, and stingrays, plus hard and soft coral, which all add up to make this a world-class dive site.
The JMC leads with their numerous ocean programs, for youth and adults alike; diving adventures that now go beyond bringing back a wealth of information pass on stewardship of the ocean to inspire the next generation of aquanauts.
The region is full of beautiful tropical birds that are making a comeback. In the protected Namena Island Bird Sanctuary, you can spot the threatened Red-Footed Booby. These birds can dive up to almost 100 ft. to catch their ocean prey.
The Cousteau team is working to have more marine protected areas. Recently, the Nukubalavu Marine Reserve was formed for the next 20 years from a local initiative. Johnny Singh shared, “I’ve seen a lot of change in the last ten years, but I still see in October the southern Humpback and Sperm Whales which migrate from Australia—they are breeding and calving—and the Silver Spinner Dolphins can be found breaching year around.” Johnny explained that since 2002, with the Marine Protected Areas, the community fights to restock the reefs and repopulate fish. The Ministry of Fisheries has helped the comeback and Dr. Richard Murphy from Ocean Futures Foundation has been another knowledgeable source for their program.
The lessons learned help JMC build a sustainable destination resort with systems that bio mimic nature, and use nature for balance. They use natural plants for pesticide control, which is a leading approach among Eco Resorts. The wastewater filtration system is designed to create a biodiverse natural pond and wetlands environment for natural self-cleaning. The drinking water comes from the village and uses four stages of advanced filtration, and ultraviolet light for purification. The Medicine Walk continues the legacy of Niumaia Kavika, a famous medicine man who worked there to pass on a wealth of knowledge about the use of local plants for their healing and beneficial properties.
Plants are key and the Mangrove Reforestation program works with the seeding and tagging to restore the ecosystems and prevent further coastal erosion. The Coral and Giant Clam Farms are two initiatives that support eco goals too. The coral fragments are collected, regrown, and replanted on reefs. The Giant Clam Farm protects the growing years of the clam in the ocean by re-planting them in protected areas to husband their aging. Giant clams live beyond 100 years, can weigh over 500 lbs. and are overharvested—being a sought-after delicacy has made them increasingly scarce.
There is a lot to take away from this Eco Resort about life’s systems, with age-appropriate experiential learning, which lives throughout all the fun ocean programs of the Cousteau family. The resort makes interactive marine biology accessible to all people of all ages, with programs for Adults, Bula, Teens, and 6–12-years groups. A Mama is customarily assigned to every child guest under the age of five years, for free, and families are well catered to beyond what they learn. At the JMC, all can be pampered, and learn about the ocean.
One thing that helps make JMC unique is Navia Navia, a private island that offers guests exclusivity and privacy, and can be rented for various amounts of time in order to spend sacred alone time in paradise with the one you love. The food at Cousteau is something to write home about. Fifteen years and growing, the organic gardens offer fresh local island vegetables, tropical fruit, edible flowers, and herbs growing on the two acres that are surrounded by island flowers and play areas. Both Fijian style farm- and sea-to-table make for pure culinary heaven, with a global influence. The organic garden is a rarity among resorts in the Fiji Islands, which gives JMC a healthy-body ecology lead. The culinary options are exquisite and scrumptious, with some of the best Asia-fused Pacific fare influenced by the talented Executive Chef, Raymond Lee. Chef Lee supervises the traditional Fijian “Lovo” feast celebrated every week at the resort, with delicacies cooked in the fire pit by hot embers covered with banana leaves. Lee offers a Junior Chef program where youths can harvest the plants for meals and learn about the cradle-to-cradle systems, including composting. The garden and children’s play area is a lovely venue to spend time in and around, with programs to support the growth of all.
The JMC spa massage treatments follow suit, with all-natural and locally harvested coconut oil, gifted therapist hands, native Fijian plant essences, and the Bobo massage.
Eco is incorporated, along with luxury, in all the systems at the Cousteau Resort, in the Oceanside bungalow Bures that are replete with LED lights, solar on-demand hot water, and all the cushy comforts, such as a hammock and huge bath that are needed to thoroughly enjoy island life. Throughout the resort, efficiency is integrated with lighting motion sensors or timers on equipment, and the resort has a comprehensive recycling program. Read more about the sustainability efforts here.
The Cousteau Resort is an ideal place to get married. There are many romantic wedding packages to choose from in an extraordinary setting, and it becomes more economical combining the honeymoon and wedding together at the same venue, with many wonderful activities that can add to the beginning of a loving lifelong adventure, including local fishing, touring in a glass bottom boat, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, volleyball, tennis, kayaking, eco-touring, medicine walking, and Fijian storytelling.
The JMC and the local village Nukubalavu balance the tourism industry that supports the local economy by employing villagers, and by having the charity Savusavu Foundation for the village support one another. In Nukubalavu we found; family. Most of the village of Nukubalavu is the driving workforce at the Jean-Michael Cousteau Resort. Guests staying at JMC get to visit the village and see the culture and extraordinary dance. One family from the village of Nukubalavu was instrumental in World Team’s entire journey with Fiji (soon we will share more about the extraordinary people that helped make the journey to Fiji next, but a special shout out to Iowane Ritova and Andrea Fono). I was welcomed to stay in the village and shared a Fijian feast of native delights. I learned of the village’s needs, for water, sanitation, renewable energy, and saw the opportunity for a future project for World Team Now. I met with the local Ratu in the village and shared Kava. We are thankful to the villagers, especially Iowane Rivota who has become a World Team member and has been active in supporting and sharing WTN’s efforts in Fiji. World Team Now gained another partner in the Village of Nukubalavu in our UN Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Sustainable Solutions Oceans Opportunities on Small Island States (SOS-IS).
A hermit crab race is a regular fundraiser event for the Savusavu Foundation striving to give back to the community through various efforts, including raising funds to help build a kindergarten teamwork is needed as all of the villages hard hit by TC Winston can still use support.
The staff at the JMC that keeps the native Fiji Bula genuine comes primarily from the nearby villages of Nukubalavu who live out the Fijian legend of consideration and love of others and bend over backward to make sure every child, adult, and mangrove, is respected and cared for in this Fijian island experience.
A population of 200 village staff work at the JMC. General Manager Bart Simpson explained, “Half of the villagers had lost their homes in the two tidal waves from TC Winston.” A local villager was running for higher ground as fast as he could and confessed, “By God, I think I’m going to die, my house is following me,” because it was being carried by sea 10 meters away from him.
The Cousteau architectural philosophy includes a lineage of interest to build with the ocean, which is the challenge these islands face at this time. To resist the temptation of a rock wall, and move up away from the sea to reclaim land is a challenge. Once the land is underwater there is a question about boundaries. Adjacent Boundaries of National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) is indeed a United Nations conversation about a sustainable future in a process for large ocean states like Fiji. There is a sustainable energy vision for the 25 Bures on the 17 acres at JMC, and future generations of staff, their kids or grandchildren, continue the legacy. “The Ocean is reclaiming land every year” explained Bart Simpson, the Resort’s Manager, who has noticed a change in the eight years since he arrived. Bart said, “Moving towards ecology affected by climate change and sea level rise, we have been losing land in a short timeline… True to traditional Fijian culture, the JMC strives to be sustainable, and multi-cultural.” The Cousteau family’s commitment to the ocean is to demonstrate innovative solutions, educate, and be stewards for all the species that find a home in the ocean.
The Savusavu local arts and handicraft section of the Farmer’s Market share the locals’ use of natural resources, with unique handmade gifts that are sold by village artists, farmers who sell produce, and performing musicians. J. Hunter Pearls provides a rare opportunity to find that precious rarity of a pearl in its raw natural environment because the Savusavu Bay’s underwater oyster farm offers not just the oyster and the pearl, but also ocean wisdom. There are many gifts to take away from this region, but the value of a family’s legacy is immeasurable, as are the experiential souvenirs tattooed on the heart when learning to thrive with and in the ocean. This is ingrained in the Cousteau Resort experience and is a timeless present.
It is hard to leave the JMC without feeling like you are leaving home, a place where all belong.
Summary of World Team Follows as Fiji Leads in the Pacific Island Region Posts
The Pacific Island Region seemed to call, and last year I went on an adventure to the islands of Fiji and Samoa. In the past, we had looked for a location in the United States where our non-profit organization 501 (C) (3) World Team Now (WTN) could go a step beyond Sustainability and demonstrate a renewable future. The answer to the search came with an invitation from a representative of the Fiji Government to visit the islands of Fiji.
World Team Now’s goal was to apply the experience of our OrangetownGreen Microgrid entry in the New York Microgrid Prize and share the perspective gained from working on renewable energy and other related systems. World Team Now had previously succeeded with small alternative energy projects in our home state of California, such as helping the City of Malibu install Electric Vehicle Chargers in our EV Charging Campaign. In New York (where WTN is also registered), we did a net metering initiative that helped solar owners in Lake Placid, NY, finally get the right meters to profit from their solar installations. We were ready to do more.
Some colleagues referred to my experience in simultaneously seeking an island location for our World Team project as Dating Geography. What I discovered on this journey was surprising, and unexpected— and shocking that it took a year to assimilate. There are few words for the events that continued in this time of transformation.
Fiji and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) may end up leapfrogging the developed nations and become the model for a sustainable future to benefit us all. In this region, ecology and economy can grow to scale and this new development may more appropriately be called Large Ocean Island States (LOIS) in the future.
Blending the two words ecology and economy, the Small Island Republic of Fiji has leading Eco Resorts that stretch beyond the imagination. These Fijian Eco Resorts are leading with an Eco prowess formula for sustainability, and it is not just for the tourists’ benefit, or for profit, but for the benefit of all who live there as well.
Fiji is one of the few naturally pristine island chains left in the world. Located in the Pacific Island Region, Fiji is one of the rare places that still has beautiful coral reefs, flora, and fauna, along with a crystal clear view of stars and starfish alike from the more than 333 Small Islands that make up the Republic of Fiji. Recently, Fiji ranked at the top of Google’s search engine after Fiji’s 7’s won the Olympic Gold in Rugby, but surprisingly Fiji is also searched for happiness and world peace.
On the world stage, The Republic of Fiji has moved into global leadership and action, not just by their first local team win in Rugby at the Olympics, but also because, in UN terms, Fiji represents leadership action globally.
Fiji was the first United Nations (UN) member to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol. His Excellency, Peter Thomson of Fiji, led the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the year through September 2017. His UNGA leadership was a historical first for an island state, with many successes.
H.E. Peter Thompson President of the General Assembly and Suzanne Maxx at the UN Ocean Conference photo by Tomas Pico /UN
As the President of the 71st General Assembly, Peter Thomson held a High-Level Event, titled “Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda,” in collaboration with the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). So many UN Member States wanted to participate that another day had to be added to the one-day event. On May 18, 2017, H.E. Peter Thomson facilitated the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on financing the SDGs’ future. Along with Sweden, Fiji organized the UN-Ocean Conference in New York, June 5–10,2017. World Team registered the UN Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Sustainable Solutions Ocean Opportunities on the Small Island States (SOS-IS) at the Ocean Conference. H.E. Thomson followed up the Ocean Conference with multi-stakeholder partners conference call on the Mangroves which we joined for the status update coming into his new role continuing with work for the Ocean. Watch the closing of the UNGA with the summary of H.E. Thomson’s accomplishments.
With a relatively new Constitution to govern the Republic, Fiji is in the process of petitioning to join the UN Council for Human Rights in 2018.
Of all the treasures Fiji boasts, the most valuable may be the welcoming character and loving (Bula) nature of the native people and their culture. Even industry, Fiji Airlines, for example, welcomes all in a BIG way.
The native culture’s hospitality yields care— coming from an organic, authentic lifestyle that lives close to nature and is intimate with the ocean. Like most island republics, the intimacy and relationship to the ocean are core and, like the breath inhales/exhales, ebbs and flows, the resources of fishing, eco-tourism, flora, and fauna provide what is needed for the people and the planet.
Yet, with the sea level rising, the increased frequency and scope of storms, ocean acidification, pollution, and climate change are all becoming intensified threats to the thriving natural existence of this paradise found. The region is highly susceptible to climate change— hit in 2016 with the record-breaking category 5 cyclone Winston, Fiji knows the ramifications of Climate Change. Living with and on the ocean becomes more challenging to the Fijian traditional way of organizing island life, and sustainable development becomes a necessity going forward. All these elements together make the Small Island Developing States more vulnerable.
This vulnerability of the Pacific Island Region is, however, becoming a leadership strength. They recognize that economy and ecology go hand in hand, and have prioritized sustainability in their development process that could set an example, and not just for island nations. The islands are fragile and vulnerable, yet because of their size and present state of development, they have the greatest opportunity to demonstrate true and lasting sustainability. The lessons learned from the industrially developed world, choosing to sacrifice living with the intimacy of nature in favor of profit, the Fijian sustainable development model is striving for a better balance.
This is a win/win for ecology and economy considering the future generation’s lives, and in terms of people, biodiversity, and our common home. Even within the rural locations in the developed world, the investment in antiquated infrastructure and a primary fossil-fuel-based electrical grid make the transition to renewable energy more expensive, slower, and harder, keeping the profits in the hands of the privileged and benefiting few. Fortunately, in the Small Island States, the policy, and regulatory structures are not now obstacles in the same way.
Since many small islands have been without water and electricity, it is both economically and ecologically beneficial to start with renewable energy systems. Fiji has embraced the changing times, planning for and allowing Climate Change refugees from neighboring islands in the Pacific Island Region, such as Kiribati, to arrive, and is welcoming them and other island natives to Fiji as their home.
Eco Resorts and Tourism’s business model seem to create a win-win-win for all— foreigners get to enjoy nature’s best in a peaceful, rich environment with cultural diversity. Natives benefit from the jobs created locally, and the economic and tax benefits for the republic end up building a more sustainable future.
From Nadi, a seaplane will take you to Turtle Island, a pioneering romantic honeymoon Eco Resort, developed initially for couples. Many of Turtle Islands Eco-design systems can be seen from the Turtle Airways seaplane.
For small islands that have been without water and electricity, resorts like Turtle Island have found renewable energy systems to be sustainable.
Turtle Island Resort is one of the leaders in renewable energy systems and living by cradle-to-cradle principles— much more than a desalination resort, it is a paradise found in sustainability.
The 500-acre island is kept in line with nature preservation as they move towards their net-zero island goal for renewable energy. The solar farm that primarily powered The Turtle Island Resort at the time of my stay was 1.2 megawatts of solar energy with battery storage.
Upon arrival at Turtle Island, you are carried from the seaplane to the shore by natives serenading with a local song, and it seems the whole island’s population joyously celebrates your arrival like a holiday. The heartwarming welcome, Bula, exclaimed by natives who live and work on the island, brings on a feeling of home in its purest sense because love is present and freely offered and everything is set up for you and your partner’s comfortable participation in sharing island life.
Water is harvested from the natural environment, with both rainwater (catchment) and seawater taking the salt out of the sea (desalination), to make fresh water. The fresh water is collected in a reservoir and stored in water tanks. It is not just the beauty of the famous surrounding Blue Lagoon shores, it is also the way they work with and use water— beauty from what is put within and all around at this Eco-luxury Resort.
Turtle Island is the brainchild of Richard Evanson, and now his son Richard Evanson Junior (Jr) who continues to expand and implement the vision of this island to preserve the natural habitat and enhance the natural beauty of the island, prioritizing sustainability. They have preserved wildlife by bringing in species and creating the breeding ground for these species to thrive, like, for instance, the colorful wild collection of tropical birds in flocks that include parrots, cockatoos, and parakeets.
According to Richard Jr., who continues the family legacy of Turtle Island, “The Island boasts guava, papaya, passion fruit, soursop, and coconut trees, with more than 900,000 thousand trees planted,” since his father Richard Sr. envisioned Turtle Island.
Jr. explained, “Dad strategically planted 60–75 thousand Mahogany trees, not only to preserve the land and prevent devastation by being organic, natural fire-damage prevention, but also to increase the land value… the trees support ecological biodiversity, prevent soil erosion, create windbreaks, and help the reforestation of indigenous forests.” Their family’s philosophy, explained Richard Jr, is that “Decisions and developments must make financial sense, have environmental integrity, benefit the local people, and celebrate the heritage and culture of a place.”
The Kava ceremony and native traditional dance and songs augment the heartfelt sharing with staff and island entertainment in the evenings.
In every breath at Turtle Island, there is the opportunity for intimacy, not only with your partner, but with the orchids, the birds, and the ocean. Whether you want to kayak or do stand-up paddle boarding into the sunset, dive or snorkel, meditate on the colorful patterns of the fish you swim with, or go for a horseback ride, all are captivating ways to relate romantically to the island and ocean and one another.
Intimacy on Turtle Island is prioritized to have all honeymoon expectations met, catering to personal desires, like, for example, just for you and your loved one, your own special menu for private dining on your own floating table while watching the sunset on the ocean, or dining under the stars.
Or the option to create your own private beach excursion and picnic meals. Food Director and world-renowned chef, Jacques Reymond use wild-caught, fresh seafood right out of the ocean to create culinary art which feeds all the senses. Think Pacific green lobster, snapper, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and prawns, integrated with fresh home-grown vegetables, coconuts from the trees, all combined together for culinary masterpieces, or look at the cuisine here. Each person’s dietary needs can be met, or custom made to the activity and the adventure or environment of the moment. It is more than the body that is fed, and the community-style meals bond hearts, with all else that is needed provided for in your Bure.
The 14 handcrafted native Bures are mostly constructed and carved from island-grown hardwoods. The Bures have an authentic Fijian design and are equipped with all the ideal creature comforts. In addition to having double showers, and bathrooms, tranquility reigns with the deck’s day bed by the ocean and the beachside hammock under the palm trees. The pristine pure scent of the tropical flowers, mixed with the salty ocean spray is intoxicating. The ocean and its bathwater temperature make each private Bure’s large sunken Jacuzzi just another version of the play in a warm water paradise.
There is a full-service Spa on the island— Vonu Spa’s four hands, two masseurs for one body, Lomi Lomi massage experience, with all-natural Pure Fiji, is to live for. Turtle Island is an exclusive paradise, with the perfect amount of luxury and openness to what is natural. Activities are optional, flexible, and can be tailored to your need, and they range from learning the Fijian language to native culinary delights, or Zen and the Art of Opening Coconuts.
Turtle Island not only looks like a turtle but is also a breeding and nesting ground for sea turtles, where turtles come onshore to lay their eggs at night. Turtle Island’s conservation program is in partnership with World Wildlife Fund, and you can learn more about their Sea Turtle Program here.
Paradise Found comes with also facing the reality of duality— nothing in form is perfect, or rather perfection lies in embracing imperfection, as well as the constant aspect of change. This includes the paradise found on Turtle Island Resort too. It is indeed the will to keep doing better, growing and improving that counts. Willingness to change is a quality that World Team Now embraces, as we have learned this makes for the extraordinary and is a key to the transformation of an island. Solutions that we suggested seemed welcomed in the intimacy of Turtle Island. It was a joy to see Monica Laurence, the niece of Richard Sr., embrace the suggestion to have the Farm to Table fresh home-grown food be Organic or even Bio. This happened because I had met a Fijian woman, Vitila Vuniwaqa of Vee’s Farm, with deep roots and contacts in the organic farm community, and introduced her to Monica. By now Turtle Island could be well on their way to being Organic Farm to Table. And we hope that, in the process, they have found a plant-based solution to approaching insects.
When the solar energy scales up further, and perhaps when hydrogen and other storage and energy sources we discussed are added, Turtle Island will reach the 100% renewable goal, operating 100% of the time. I had an island tour in one of the electric golf carts, which was one of the first alternative vehicles used on the island. With other alternative vehicles suggested, like electric and hydrogen fuel cell, cars, trucks, and trackers, all could be further integrated into the island’s transportation modes. Once these become economical to import, islanders will ultimately no longer need the diesel gas used; meanwhile, we discussed the possibility of biodiesel down the road. Fossil Fuel freedom is on the horizon for these islands that have developed by being in tune with nature.
It seems the goal of everyone on Turtle Island is to make each and every person feel like family and attend to their every need with a genuine kindness, not because it is their job, but because this is who the Fijian people are— happy, so they want to spread what makes them feel good. A family member died during my stay, and the support and kindness extended to me by the locals and the Evanson family made it possible for me to go forward there. Monica Laurence has carried the Turtle Island bond forward into future generations with Turtle Talks (watch here).
Turtle Island’s Bula spirit gives back to the communities and supports the education of islanders and some special programs that include island rugby. Turtle Island’s motto is “Ask for anything” within the sustainable resort experience. Turtle Island prioritizes a balance between the environment and culture, with the emphasis on couples, family legacy, and the willingness to give back to local communities with programs from rugby to education.
Join our non-profit World Team Now for an exclusive event to celebrate the launching of the World Team project’s SOS-IS multi stakeholder partnership and surprise announcements of members of the World Team. The event includes open bar, oyster tasting, amuse-bouche, soft shell crab, sea scallops, ricotta toast, tomato and watermelon, and french fries. The event is being held at Grand Banks, a celebrated oyster bar aboard the historic wooden schooner, Sherman Zwicker located on Pier 25 in Manhattan on the Hudson River. See http://www.grandbanks.org/ take in how special this event will be. You might have noticed the .org – Grand Banks is famous for its leadership in the sustainable seafood movement and is a partner in The Billion Oyster Project and generates funds to support maritime conservation, education, and preservation.
There is an Icon parking garage on Greenwich St. just south of N. Moore, and limited street parking on the northbound lane of West St. There is also street parking on streets in neighborhood of Grand Banks,Tribeca
Inside the United Nations looking out- Photo Credit World Team Now/Suzanne Maxx
New York, New York USAToday at the United Nations 175 Countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement on opening day, Earth Day! Our World Team project is especially grateful for the leadership on the first 15 United Nations members that both signed and Ratified the Paris Agreement by Earth Day. This is a critical step to have the legal governmental framework for the revolutionary work to move towards our “100% Renewable Energy” global vision.
The most vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) know the reality of Climate Change, ironically they have to bare the most severe effects of the most developed regions actions. Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon’s request for “All hands on deck,” from all U.N. members, comes to relevance especially in places like Fiji.
Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama
Video: UN Web TV footage
Just recovering from Tropical Cyclone Winston, with another threat coming at them now, Fiji’s Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama was front and center, contributing and bringing the gravel down to close the day’s session. Republic of Palau’s President, Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr. captured the spirit of this time proclaiming, “On days like this you feel like you are part of a team”.
World Team has been on a long journey and search for a location that is eager to make that renewable energy transition. The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) need all the support we can give, and they hold the most promise for World Team project’s public work. SIDS are the most impacted and have the least. When we realize that over 62,000 people are displaced daily from climate or weather related events, it is stunning. Climate change refugees are growing. The funding coming from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will help, but that support needs to have been there yesterday.
For the Paris Agreement to come into force, 55% of the UN’s members must sign and ratify it, and this must account for at least 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. All members have a year, until Earth Day 2017- but obviously, the sooner the better.
Each country created their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) for the Paris Agreement, their status is here. Next we need all the INDC to become Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). These contributions are required to be ambitious and progressive, to be updated, increased, and submitted to the U.N. every five years.
The fundamental step of putting the governmental framework into place is happening; the nations are coming up with determined commitments for our species and our planet to help tackle the climate change challenge. Although what was started in Paris in 2015 is growing with efforts like the Renewable Energy Innovation Plan for Africa; the 70 Initiatives to find a broader solutions; Mission Innovation for Green Technology, and the Carbon Pricing Leadership. We all realize that this cannot be done by nations alone.
It will take many sectors to build to the change that is sustainable. The action of the signing sends signals to all markets. Some illuminating information was announced and shared over the course of the day. “Taking climate action to the next level: Realizing the vision of the Paris Agreement” was the title for the afternoon.
Key financial and business pledges are being made by entities teaming up to further the global goals of the Paris Agreement. Anne Stausboll, representing CalPERS, the largest U.S. public pension fund with almost 300 billion dollars in assets gave the update; watch here. She shared that Ceres, a nonprofit organization leading adoption of sustainable business practices, has joined forces with the CalPERS pension fund, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, and the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change. To mobilize the Paris Agreement, 400 investors with 24 trillion dollars in assets have been enrolled. “To achieve the goals of the Agreement, we know the world must invest at least one trillion dollars a year in clean energy for several decades,” she explained, “The Agreement has unleashed an unprecedented opportunity for institutional investors worldwide – a powerful global green light to shape tomorrow’s low-carbon economy.”
The Green Climate Fund which came out of the Paris Agreement is targeted to 100 billion a year in aid to developing countries. President Obama has pledged $3 billion to the GCF over four years. The first $500 million of that pledged amount was transferred. Countries are all together rising to action. The efforts of the two biggest emitters USA/China is supported by their agreement to one another.
Canada addresses the Opening Ceremony of the High-Level Event for the Signature of the Paris Agreement Credit: UN Photo
Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, explained his country is committed to helping developing countries, “Since they should not be punished for a problem they did not create.” Canada’s $2.56 Billion (USD) pledge is good kindling to ignite a fire of support to assist developing countries to grow to be cleaner, and more sustainable.
Hoesung Lee from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared about how they have accepted the task to integrate science into implementation phase and submit mission reports on “Climate Change and Land Use,” plus reports on “Ocean and Ice”. In two years they will turn in a report that studies whether emissions targets of 1.5 degrees is the magic number that could halt the growing catastrophic effects of climate change, to see if that is indeed enough action. Private, public, businesses, NGOs financial sectors, and all citizens are all needed to team up, as people come to realize prompt action needs to begin now.
CEO of Unilever Paul Polman highlighted how the business and financial sector are lining up to address climate change:
At the Business and Climate Summit held May 2015, trade associations that represent 6.5 million businesses committed to addressing climate change.
A report by the New Climate Economy stated 90 trillion will be going to be made over the next 15 years in addressing urbanization and population growth issues and 13.5 trillion is already pledged for clean energy investments, which he said is a “good direction”.
The business and financial sector is making progress with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unilever’s CEO emphasized that climate change is key to 13 of the 17 SDGs. Now to “level” (pun intended) the playing field with energy sectors. Positive price signals are needed and a subsidy is a negative price signal. We love that the sentiment from Unilever’s leader who said, “That is a negative price on carbon when we need a positive price.” That statement was echoed throughout Earth Day from many speakers. The message to cut fossil fuel subsides, and create a carbon market was clear, and consistently delivered throughout all sectors on Earth Day.
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and renowned campaigner of human rights and climate justice. It was lovely to see most speakers wearing the pin with the logo of the colorful SDGs. Picture: Captured from UN Web TV footage
Mary Robinson declared, “The world must target for 1.5 degrees or below rise and that requires carbon neutrality at, or before 2050. She was empathetic on pointing out that with the Paris Agreement, developing countries now have more responsibility in addressing climate change as each nation has to evaluate their NDCs— the annex 1 or annex 2 countries distinction made in the past is no longer …
Opening ceremony of Paris Agreement signingCredit: UN Photo
This year’s Earth Day had many events leading up to the big focus of 24 hours of U.N. festivities in New York. Once again, there were powerful contributions from many of the people instrumental through the World Team journey— champions of the environmental movement over the many years coming together: especially California Gov. Jerry Brown, former US Vice President Al Gore, and even our friend Bertrand Piccard via live web stream from the cockpit of SolarImpulse2 in flight to San Francisco-the next leg of the around the world flight in the solar airplane! Bertrand said, “More than protecting the environment, it’s the clean technology revolution, the solar airplane is like a smart grid with distributed energy”. He encouraged leaders saying in the webstream, “Be pioneers for solutions, don’t let resistance take over…”
Andre and Bertrand, pilots of Solar Impulse, with World Team Now’s Suzanne Maxx.
Actor, Activist and U.N. Messenger of Peace, Leonardo Di Caprio reminded leaders of their power in choice quoting President Lincoln, “Our case is new, so we must think a new, and act anew.” He drew the parallel analogy of the defining issue of our time, between being free of fossil fuel, to the past, in being free from slavery. He explained, “Everyone knew it had to end, but no one had the political will to stop it.” In regards to bold Climate action he exclaimed, “You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them…”
Leonardo Di Caprio inspires leaders to create power for just action. Video: UN Web TV footage
In addition to U.N. member states, states like California are taking significant action on their own. Once again, World Team Now based in New York and California was excited to hear from our Gov. Jerry Brown who spoke about some of the key steps that California has taken and will take— including their own cap and trade program that is also connected with Quebec and Ontario. Al Gore, in comments he made after the afternoon panel Jerry was on, pointed out that California’s leadership under Jerry is from a position of influence— he explained, “If California was a country it would be the 5th largest economy in the world.”
Governor Jerry Brown of California speaks at the Paris Agreement at signing at the United Nations on Earth Day April 22nd. Video: UN Web TV footage
Some of the highlights from New York Mayor de Blasio’s speech shared the commitment to having every new car in New York’s City’s fleet being an electric with the goal of an electric fleet by the year 2025. Retrofits are required in both public and now private buildings and new buildings will have to be 60-80% more efficient than existing buildings.
In India, every light bulb is required to be LED, with the program launched by the government they have driven the cost down for the bulbs by economic demand, and now they are cheaper than other kinds of light bulbs, now priced about 80 cents and about 100 million have been installed Germany plans to be fossil fuel free by 2050.
President Barack Obama welcomed the signing of the climate agreement and said it will allow all of “our children to inherit a cleaner, healthier, and safer planet.” He said in a statement on Earth Day, “As the world’s second-largest source of climate pollution, America has a responsibility to act. The stakes are enormous — our planet, our children, our future.
John Kerry Signs Paris Agreement With Granddaughter on Lap High-Level Event for the Signature of the Paris Agreement Credit: UN Photo
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, signed the historical agreement, ensuring it be witnessed by future generations by having his 2-year-old granddaughter Isabelle on his lap. Kerry followed up on President Obama’s Announcement which proclaims that the United States “looks forward to formally joining this agreement this year.”
It has been many years of attending these United Nations Climate events (COPs) dreaming that we could come to an agreement, sign it, and move into action. That day has come, it is here. World Team has been active with Earth Day for decades, but this was the first Earth Day that the distant dream for the global action by world leaders is being realized.
What an action packed period of time, this time has been, with record breaking action from countries around the world, and it’s about time. The pace is set we need for climate action, and the global renewable energy revolution, and it is happening, and it can’t happen quick enough. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are all interrelated and helpful to have delineated.
Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moons called for all hands on deck to: "Turn Aspiration Into Action" - Countries Sign Paris Climate Agreement. Video: UN Web TV footage
It was lovely to see most speakers wearing the pin with the logo of the colorful SDGs. We are enthusiastic about the platform World Team will offer for all people as tool for engagement. We can see this renewable energy revolution is happening, but it will take a team, all of us. We have much to celebrate, yet much to do for humanity to live in balance with our resources and one another here on earth.
United Nations - "Protecting our Planet and Combatting Climate Change" is part of a UN short film series "The Story You are Shaping" produced by HUMAN, which premiered at the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015. Video: UN Web TV footage
Photo highlights of of the UN High-Level Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change can be found here and a text highlights of the ceremony can be found here. Below are some selected UN videos of the Ceremony: