Community Leaders Issue ‘Āina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration

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A coalition of Native Hawaiian community leaders presented their ‘āina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration at an online press conference on May 19th, setting in place the first of a four-step process to engage Hawaiʻi community members in developing a shared proposal to rebuild Hawaiʻi’s economy.

Speakers for the press conference were Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Associate Professor of the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and the William S. Richardson School of Law, Joseph Lapilio, President of the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, a Hilo educator and community leader.

A diverse group of more than 550 Hawaiʻi community members, businesses and organizations sent the Declaration to Governor Ige and to Alan Oshima, a business executive appointed by Ige to lead Hawaiʻi’s efforts to develop and implement a plan for economic and community stabilization, recovery and resiliency in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Declaration can be viewed on the coalition’s website at www.ainaalohafutures.com/.

“The idea for the declaration began with handfuls of friends having informal conversations about the positive changes that could come from this COVID-19 crisis. The conversations revealed that we were all thinking similarly and affirmed that we are eager to do more than just talk about this,” recalled Lapilio.

“We heard over and over again sentiments like ‘we can’t rebuild the same economy that produced the problems we’re facing.’ Everyone agreed that we need to re-establish an economy that puts the wellbeing of our ‘āina, our food and energy sustainability, and the interests of our Hawaiʻi residents at the forefront,” said Wong-Wilson. “We have kuleana to manage our resources in a way that accomplishes these goals, and we need to hold our leaders accountable to do so.”

Wong-Wilson noted that the group wanted to empower the chorus of voices they were hearing by creating an inclusive four-step process. “We believe an inclusive process for change is vital to a strong outcome for change.”

“The Declaration was step one and reflects the high principles we heard time and again,” added Lapilio. “We first shared the Declaration among our own networks and the response was overwhelming, especially in relation to the diversity of the signatories.”

Step two will engage those interested in reviewing and providing feedback on a draft Huliau Action Agenda describing concrete goals to rebuild our economy in keeping with the principles of the Declaration. Once that is finalized, people will be invited to sign their names to the high-level proposals and register for step three participation.

Slated for June, step three will involve a series of webinars focusing on sectors of the economy. Participants will sign up to shape specific proposals. As these proposals develop, teams from each sector will pull their work together into a cohesive set of proposals. Step four will involve extending outward to align with others working toward similar goals and combine efforts to seek support for these proposals from decision-makers. For more information on building a stronger, more sustainable and community-centered future for Hawaiʻi go to: www.ainaalohafutures.com/