Seychellois student takes Aldabra Atoll experience to UN conference on oceans
Alvania Lawen from Anse Boileau secondary school was one of three students representing Seychelles at the UN Ocean Conference. (Alvania Lawen)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles attended the United Nations' ‘Ocean Conference’ last month and among those representing the island nation was Alvania Lawen from Anse Boileau secondary school, one of three students representing Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
The Ocean Conference was organised to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, which aims to have the oceans, seas and marine resources used in a sustainable manner.
SNA caught up with eco warrior Alvania Lawen for an update on her participation at the conference.
SNA: Tell us, how were you chosen to attend the conference?
AL: I was chosen because I had the chance to visit Aldabra, a world heritage site. In fact, all the children who took part in the conference were representing UNESCO’s declared heritage sites all over the world. I was very proud, and it was an honour for me to represent Aldabra Atoll.
|The Seychelles youth delegation was made up of Maria Brioche of SIF, Neil Commettant, Jean-Yves Mancienne (the youngest) and Alvania Lawen. (Maria Brioche) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: What preparations did you make for your participation?
AL: There was a lot of preparation. There was the visa issue to be sorted out and our itinerary. Then we had meetings to discuss what was expected of us, how we had to dress, our behaviour, and finally, all members of the delegation met at the State House with the Vice President for a final briefing.
SNA: How did it go in New York?
AL: It was a packed programme. We were all booked at the Downtown Association Hotel. There were 32 students representing 12 World Heritage Sites altogether. We were going to participate in the UNESCO slot at the conference. The first day after we arrived, we started rehearsals. Three of us were going to make speeches.
On the day of the conference, we were very excited. Through our presentations, we wanted to convince world leaders to protect the oceans. I told tell them that as an islander the ocean is our treasure, and yes they signed the pledge to safeguard our ocean for future generations. And after our participation at the conference in the evening, we had more presentations. We did a slide show and recited a poem, about Aldabra our marine heritage.
|Through the presentations, the young people wanted to convince leaders to protect the oceans. (Maria Brioche) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: You and your twin Nathalia are both very active in environmental activities, seen locally as eco warriors. How did this passion start?
AL: It all started with our older sister Jessica, who when was in school joined the heritage club. She was involved in many outdoor activities including visits to the other islands. She brought us to these events, and that is how it began. We joined the environment club.
When I was in primary four I took part in a science fair and our school’s project was about climate change and rain water harvesting -- it was adopted nationally. We moved around with it at different exhibitions and other shows where we helped to educate and raise awareness on these two crucial issues.
Before that, I was a very shy girl, but through these exposures, I became more confident and active in environmental related activities. This also helped to open doors for me in terms of internship.
SNA: Career-wise what are your plans for the future?
AL: Well the first thing when I turn 18 is to do volunteer work on Aldabra Atoll, something my twin dreams to do as well. If not Aldabra, I will still want to work on any other island for at least three months. I want to further my studies and attend the School of Advanced Level for English, biology and geography.
After that, I would like to join the University of Seychelles to study environment and sustainability. But volunteer work is something I will always continue to do.
My sister and I have created an environment club in our school, Anse Boileau Secondary, and a lot of things we manage to do are because of the volunteers. People help us to raise awareness on environment and climate change issues. They also participate in clean ups and hikes. Besides, it is not always easy to get funds.
|Alvania and twin sister Nathalia have an environment club in our school, Anse Boileau Secondary and get help from volunteers.(Alvania Lawen) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: In Seychelles, young people face many challenges, as a young what can you say to encourage others to use the opportunities they get?
AL: As young people, we fall prey to temptations and other negativity, but I want them to remember that where there is a will, there is a way. If they have passions be it sports, dance, the environment, they need to develop that. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go their way, be patient and persevere.
When you are busy, you don’t have time for things which will get you nowhere or isn’t good for you. In the field of environment, our islands offer us so much -- programmes, activities and now we have the blue economy internship. Last year I was among the first cohort for the internship, and I can say it was worth it. We are blessed with islands rich in biodiversity, let this be our classroom and learn to protect it. Even those who are into the arts, songs, paintings, dances and others -- let our environment be your inspiration!