Power to the People, The Power of the Heart for MAPS
The swiftest, most powerful catalyst for social change is the hearts of humanity. MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, moves with unique speed through bureaucratic channels because it is a people’s movement, not a political one. It appeals to the highest law of all: the universal law of our interconnection. All that has happened for MAPS this spring is a testament to that fact.
Following the tragic loss of our dear friend, initial member, and Director of Strategic Initiatives Darcy Belanger, people’s hearts broke open and catalyzed global action.
Across Africa, a growing team of passionate volunteers inspired by Darcy rallied more strongly than ever after his death. Their numbers and commitment increase daily. On Earth Day, they danced, sang and celebrated for MAPS in several countries. It is humbling to consider that though African nations have contributed the least to the environmental and humanitarian crisis unfolding in our world with the threat to the Arctic Ocean, they face some of the most severe effects. Clearly informed and dedicated to making a difference, these lion-hearted volunteers are showing the way for a healthy world. With his inspiring courage and commitment, Omesa Mokaya, our African lead for UNEA-4 in March, has become the obvious choice to lead a growing global youth movement for MAPS.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) also face hardship as Arctic ice melts and sea levels rise, despite having done so little to contribute to the problem. Yet many international conferences do not give them a strong say on what happens to their people. MAPS, however, is a voice for everyone. The Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary Treaty is available for all UN member nations to sign, so that a SIDS or African nation counts just as strongly as any developed nation. SIDS governments have taken up the call to courageous leadership, as both Samoa and the Cook Islands have signed the MAPS Treaty. To support this growing momentum and serve the good of all, Parvati.org’s General Counsel, Vandana Erin Ryder, travelled to Suva, Fiji on her own funds and time for the third Climate Action Pacific Partnership Conference (CAPP III). Poignantly, Vandana was there in place of Darcy, who connected with so many leaders at CAPP last year and was set to attend again this year. Showing how much Darcy touched hearts with the message of MAPS, CAPP’s Ocean Pathway session hosted a video tribute to Darcy and MAPS. At the conclusion of CAPP, François Martel of the Pacific Islands Development Forum urged all Pacific Island nations to follow the lead of Samoa and the Cook Islands, and support MAPS.
Darcy’s absence was also felt at the largest annual environment exposition and conference in the world, EarthX in Dallas, Texas. When he was there last year, he met with leaders including Palau President Tommy Remengesau, and gave a memorable EdTX talk. This year, Dr. Karen Ho, Parvati.org’s Allies and Outreach lead, attended in Darcy’s place. Transforming from her day job as a neurologist to a bold advocate for a healthy world at this event, she met with the ambassadors of several SIDS nations and gave a livestreamed talk.
At EarthX’s Rachel Carson Banquet, the room fell silent as our memorial video of Darcy and his work for MAPS played to the hundreds of people present—many of whom had worked with him personally.
The wake left by one individual who lived with devotion to the cause of MAPS shows how much power there is in courageous commitment. And it shows why there is every reason to believe in the power of a people’s movement for MAPS. The dedication continues. Parvati.org volunteers were on site at Yogis Unite allies Shakti Fest in mid-May to spread the word for MAPS to one of the most receptive communities possible, one who inherently understands compassion and interconnection: yogis.
Yes, some governments continue to move slowly. Canada celebrated a miniscule commitment to marine protected areas while continuing to ignore the MAPS Treaty on their desk. The United States chose to see the melting Arctic Ocean as an economic opportunity instead of a planetary emergency. These are deadly errors and we will continue to tell the truth about the Arctic Ocean until governments can no longer ignore the passionate voices of their people calling for change.
We do not need to wait on governments. Every day, everywhere, we can see that MAPS can move at the speed of love. A healthy world is possible. From Africa to Joshua Tree, from Dallas to Fiji and everywhere between, MAPS is a voice for everyone. When we stand together, we can turn the world’s smallest ocean into its greatest strength—and literally save the world.
Parvati.org is a not-for-profit dedicated to a healthy world. Its first order of business is the realization of MAPS: the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, an effective step to cool our planet and keep our oceans alive.