Using creative art to make a difference in communities around the Pacific

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I would like to begin by congratulating SPTO’s Sustainable Tourism Development Division on the launch of the monthly newsletter focusing on Sustainable Tourism and Community Development in the Pacific.

Globally the creative industries are worth more than all other industries combined.  From music, visual art, fashion, and food to commercial and industrial design for everything from iPhones to architecture, from advertising to airlines—it all starts with one person and a creative idea.

In a world of growing populations and diminishing natural resources and viable economic opportunities, it is more important than ever before that we explore and exploit every creative chance that we can identify.  These creative ideas are the means to empower and educate our vulnerable communities while enabling income generation, human rights, nutrition, education, and—most importantly—injecting a sense of HOPE into a situation where hope is in such short supply.

In 2019 as part of a cross-sectoral partnership involving UNDP, SPTO, GALOA VILLAGE WOMEN, and myself, we designed and implemented plastic repurposing workshops for the women of Galoa Village.

Plastic waste is gathered from Galoa area hotels and resorts and handed over to Galoa women who, having been trained, are turning the plastic bottles into top-class jewelry and handicraft items.  These are then sold to tourists at the hotels from which the waste was collected.  The immediate benefits include:

  • Empowerment of women and their families
  • Reduced waste to landfills
  • Creating a circular economy at the village level
  • Enhanced guest experience
  • Better resort-based waste management
  • Less plastic on land, in waterways, and seas
  • Quarantine friendly products
  • Positive impacts on nutrition, education, and health at the community level

All of this was possible through the innovative cross-sectoral approach taken by all stakeholders and is an indication of what can be achieved when the creative industries are recognized and invited to participate at the policy level in a creative, compassionate, and community-based manner.

It is my firm belief that the creative industries are vital if we are to create self-employment and empowerment opportunities for the thousands of people across the region for whom employment in traditional commercial, industrial, and financial markets are no longer viable.

The plastics re-purposing workshop has been implemented successfully in Fiji and Tuvalu and has received positive feedback from across the Pacific region.  I look forward to working with SPTO and our regional and international partners to bring those workshops into communities throughout our Ocean Home.

For more information on the Galoa Womens Plastics Workshops, watch this video below: