Vanuatu wins short story competition

Thu, 05/06/14

We’ve been thrilled, moved and inspired by the wonderful stories you’ve sent us about your small island experiences in response to this year’s World Environment Day initiative from Greening the Blue.

Many weeks ago we invited you to send us 150 words describing your experiences of a Small Island Developing State that you know and love.

The reaction has been a flood of stories, through which you've taken us all around the world - from the Seychelles to São Tomé and from the Maldives to Vanuatu. Thank you to everyone who took part and told us about the special relationship you feel with small island developing states.

And today, World Environment Day, we’re delighted to announce that the winner of the Greening the Blue World Environment Day short story competition is….. Marie Rossetti. Here’s her story…

“Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to spend five months in Vanuatu working with the country’s Department of Environment and the German Development agency (GIZ) on an overarching environmental framework. The threats there linked to climate change are widespread: ocean acidification, coral bleaching, coastal erosion and sea-level rise- all are impacting communities’ livelihoods with direct effects on the natural environment and the economic and social development. During one of my visits on the outer islands, a village chief explained how they had to displace the local road three times already because of more violent storms aggravating erosion and frequently inundating the area.

But things are moving fast on this tiny archipelago of the Pacific: last year a Ministry of Climate Change was created and awareness campaigns take place at all levels.

What I will remember of my stay there is the infinite optimism and faith in the future of Ni-Vanuatu people’s, no matter the huge challenges and the ticking clock above their heads.”

Isabella Marras, Sustainable United Nations Coordinator, was on the judging panel and explained the judges decision:

“The judges liked this story because it has an personal angle but also an factual and clear description of the local situation, it finishes with a message of hope related to the people. Several of these stories had these factors, this one seemed to us to be more focused on the local community and their strength.”

Congratulations Marie!


Picking the winner was a tough call so here are some of our other favourites…

“In 2013, I had the immense good fortune of visiting this beautiful nation, a 155 island archipelago in the Indian Ocean, on invitation from the Seychelles Tourism Ambassador. The natural beauty and biodiversity of Seychelles is breathtaking and the local population is extremely engaged and conscious about preserving their fragile environment. They have a wide network of Eco-schools where students imbibe the love for nature through structured programmes. One of the objectives of my visit was to engage with their Eco schools and share with them my work as a youth leader on sustainable development. My visit was essentially as one of the award winners of The Living Rainforest International Schools Essay contest whose award ceremony was held in Seychelles. The ceremony was held in the historic Botanical Gardens in the capital island of Victoria. Against this breathtaking backdrop of natural beauty, I addressed the gathering of international students and local eco school groups on how we, children and youth, have the power to change the world and quoted Abraham Lincoln as “The best way to predict your future, is to create it”
By Kehkashan Basu
“Don't close your eyes or blink,
the land under you
might shrink.

It's not that land is getting smaller,
but here is the spoiler...
The seas are rising,
But it's not that surprising.

We've been hearing it for years
And now we need to use our ears
and our voices
to make better choices
to save our seas,

So please...

That means you
can help green the blue."

By Sarah Hassarati
“The view from the aeroplane was awesome Maldives with its different shades of green left me speechless. Seven days after i landed in Maldives we celebrated Christmas of 2004, little knowing what awaited us the next day.

On 26th December at 11 am the lights went off, I ran out from my room hearing cries of ladies. I could see household items floating in water, the level of which was rising above our waist level. Little had i known the term Tsunami but I sensed that all was not right. My first thought was to save my medical certificates which I would need to practise as a doctor again, just in case I survived the natural calamity.

My wife in India three months pregnant with my second child was in deep despair since news headlines read Maldives was submerged in the ocean and there was no way i could communicate to tell her I was alive since all modes of communication were cut off. To this day feel a shudder when i think of that day and I thank God that I am still alive.”

By Mathew Koshy

You can see more of the stories and the beautiful images which accompany them on our Facebook

Categories: Staff Engagement