As part of our continued outreach with other indigenous communities, doors have opened for OHA to participate in national conversations on climate change.
This comes upon other crucial opportunities in which OHA has engaged in this important conversation. Locally, OHA has a seat on the state’s Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission, which was created by the Hawai‘i State Legislature’s Act 32 in 2017 and meets quarterly. OHA staff monitor and advocate on these issues at the local, state, and national levels. To be able to raise our voice nationally amongst our Native cousins is especially important.
Climate change disproportionately affects Native Hawaiians by degrading not only our natural environment but also our cultural resources.
At the national level, OHA has urged Congress to take a four-pronged approach to include native communities in climate change action:
• Empower Native American communities to decide our own futures in the face of climate change.
• Empower Native American communities to spread the stewardship practices of our ancestors and to innovate new adaptive approaches to conserve our resources and mitigate climate change effects.
• Increase resiliency and adaptability of Native American communities through disaster preparedness, mitigation and recovery initiatives.
• Encourage native students to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
This will help to chart a course to effectively address climate change for native peoples. These were among important issues that OHA advocated for in front of the U.S. Senate’s Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. OHA also sent these matters as a letter from our CEO to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs as well as to the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. We in Hawai‘i are fortunate to have our own Senator, Brian Schatz, as the Chair of the latter Committee.
Connections that OHA leadership have been making in Indian Country have ensured that Native Hawaiians will have a seat at the table as we advocate for our ‘āina, our wai, the lāhui, and most importantly for the mo‘opuna who will inherit the kuleana of mālama ‘āina.
Our cultural practitioners and our kūpuna who have come before them have been at the forefront of important conservation issues before there was even that concept in the western world. They continue to be leaders and important voices on these issues. OHA looks forward to lifting these voices and critical mana‘o globally.