Waves crashing onto pasifik beach


Strengthening Indigenous guardianship of islands and ocean

What we know


(1,500) of all global languages spoken occur in the Pacific Islands region


of the Earth’s surface is covered by the Pacific Ocean


islands are in the Pasifik region

Why it's important

Indigenous guardianship of islands and ocean is vital to the health of the region. Nia Tero is committed to elevating the influence of Pasifik identity in shaping policy and action on guardianship.

Currently, Pasifik faces massive threats from industrial logging, mining, and fishing; and dominance of globalized culture endangers Indigenous ways.

Collaborations with Pasifik guardians grew from the aspirations of Solomon Islands communities to protect their forested high places, and aim for whole-domain Indigenous management of the ocean. Led by a diverse Pasifik-based team, the program strategy weaves together three pillars: Islands, Ocean, and Identity. We’re working alongside Pasifik peoples to strengthen guardianship of sacred Island homelands— Sky Islands and Atolls—to sustain the bountiful ocean, at scale; and to elevate a collective, diverse, reciprocity-based regional identity to amplify and secure a self-determined vision for a thriving Pasifik.

Tree covered mountains

Momentum is building

In the Solomon Islands, the Government’s Sky Island Pledge protecting forested areas above 400m (20% of land area) has been amplified through beautiful and compelling Indigenous storytelling, inspiring grassroots action and proliferation into Vanuatu, Kanaky, and PNG.

In the Cook Islands, Indigenous guardians are strengthening the Marae Moana whole marine domain protected area by reconnecting youth with Māori values, knowledge, and practice and by designing customary and government co- management at big ocean scale. Alongside this and a wave of other advances in ocean guardianship, the Polynesian Voyaging Society is preparing to embark on a pan-Pacific voyage where we are partnering in a world-facing campaign—the Third Canoe—that will showcase Pasifik solutions for a thriving future. And, in one of our more recent and promising initiatives, key partners are exploring a new approach to ocean guardianship based on Ocean Kinship—that is, incorporating Pacific Peoples’ ancestral concepts of kinship with the living world into policy and legal action to transform governance of the world’s largest ocean.

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