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Perry World House will host the Global Shifts Colloquium on Thursday, April 21.

Credit: Erica Xin

Perry World House will hold its 2022 Global Shifts Colloquium this Thursday, which will consist of three events centered around the theme “Islands on the Climate Front Line: Risk and Resilience,” 

This year’s colloquium — scheduled from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Perry World House — will be free and open to the public. It will focus on countries that are most vulnerable to rising sea levels and seek to spread awareness.

Lauren Anderson, the Global Shifts program manager, said the colloquium will provide a space for policymakers and thinkers to discuss how international global policy can prepare for the impacts of climate change and its effect on countries at risk.

“By having those minds meet in conversation about those issues, we produce new ideas, new paths forward, and new areas for research that can contribute to global policymaking,” Anderson said.

The first event, “Keynote Conversation with Island Ambassadors,” will feature a roundtable discussion between Thilmeeza Hussain, permanent representative of Maldives to the United Nations; Satyendra Prasad, the permanent representative of Fiji; Brian Christopher Manley Wallace, the permanent representative of Jamaica; and Walton A. Webson, the permanent representative of Antigua and Barbuda.

Anderson said that she and other organizers at Perry World House sought to have a regional balance among small island developing states, selecting speakers from island nations in the Caribbean, around the African continent, and in the Pacific Ocean. 

“Although they have similar challenges, regional approaches to these issues are very different, and we want to have balanced representation across the globe of the countries that we’re discussing,” Anderson said.

The second event, “Oceans at Risk,” will feature Fabien Cousteau — an aquanaut, documentary filmmaker, and grandson of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. The discussion will be moderated by Lisa Friedman, a climate desk reporter at The New York Times.

“We invited Fabien Cousteau because oceans are so critical to the livelihoods, food security, and economic security of small island developing states,” Anderson said. “Having a conversation about the health and impacts of climate change on the oceans and marine and coastal resources is really important, so we wanted to highlight those issues as well.”

The final event, “The Art of Climate Resilience,” will be a conversation between Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner — poet, activist, and climate envoy for the Marshall Islands Ministry of Environment — and environmentalist and author Bill McKibben.

Anderson said that Jetn̄il-Kijiner’s perspective is important because her voice represents the populations most threatened by rising sea levels.

“If we are to lose countries to sea-level rise, you lose intangible things, like culture, communities, and ecosystem services, and we want to have a conversation about what that means,” Anderson said.