Madeline and Lester had us scrambling to leave the Big Island of Hawai’i. Not a couple of disagreeable Young Professionals from the Pre-Congress Workshop, but hurricanes with 120 mph winds. With all the hiccups I’ve had with flying recently, I was more than okay to the idea of switching our flights to earlier ones. Just as well because we were gifted with an absolutely beautiful day in Honolulu before the World Conservation Congress.
Hawai’i was an inspired place to hold such an event. Beautiful and isolated, with a multitude of species exclusive to the isles and a rich culture associated with the plants and animals, you are struck by the importance of conservation efforts.
This is a place were we have textbook examples of the very issues the IUCN is brought to discuss: island vulnerability, water conservation, protecting endangered species, reducing dependency on fossil fuels and developing clean, renewable energy sources.
The must power voice here rings from Nature itself. The howling winds announce that climate demands respects. The smell of tea leaves, of brine, of rain.
The cool touch of the sea and rough sand as you walk on Waikiki Beach on your way to the Congress Centre.
As we wandered this very human place, flanked by towering hotels and zigzagging among sunbathers, our path was blocked by a rather unexpected beachgoers: a massive monk seal. At ease on that developed beach as it would elsewhere. This critically endangered animal and humans respectfully shared space.
Inspired by the fortunate encounter, we dug our hands in the warm sand and sculpted a sea turtle. Playfully we chatted about our chances at seeing the beautiful creatures. How great that we are in Hawai’i to discuss species protection, a place so filled with charismatic fauna, a capital for species at risk. Inducing love and stewardship with the helping fin of sharks and sea turtles, caring through contact with nature. That is what we want to experience, share with young and old.
And what do you know. Not an hour later we lost our minds at the sight of three green sea turtles munching away at sea grass on that very same beach. Two massive with the growth only old age may bring. How many leagues did they swim? How many changes bellow the surface have they seen bellow the surf? These venerable elders were accompanied by a small young turtle, swift and graceful. May they all live long, protected, and may they continue to inspire further protection.
Oahu Island will host more than 8,000 delegates from more than 190 countries that will descend on the Hawaii Convention Center for the 2016 World Conservation Congress, a 10-day conference. All on this island, we are stuck together to build our shared future. Our shared future on this great Island in space, and our home: Island Earth.
Mahalo, and love.