Papua New Guinea is being threatened by rising sea levels, accelerated by climate change, and Milton Kisapai wants you to use your platform to make a difference.
You can help athletes like Milton raise awareness among the public so that change can be encouraged at the highest level.
Check out the “How to be a Sustainable Champion” guide to find out other ways you can make a difference.
Think about what you’ll be doing in 20 years when you’re no longer competing. Could you look back and say that you’ve contributed to humanity?
It’s one thing being passionate about climate change, and another thing being affected by it.
In Papua New Guinea we know better than most how devastating climate change can be. Last year, the number of king tides (the highest predicted tides of the year) increased, and 53,000 of my compatriots were displaced from their homes. The tides have never been that high or reached that far before.
I come from a part of the world where we’re still strongly connected to the land; how we develop really depends on how we look after the land and the environment we live in. This is the reason I’m so passionate about climate action, and even took up a university course in marine biology and environmental science when I was still an athlete.
Make a difference
When it comes to talking about how sport can contribute to climate action, I can say it was a role I grew into. I was one of five athletes to represent Papua New Guinea as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Champion, and have been advocating climate action through sports ever since.
Using sport as a tool for sustainability has become a passion for me. I helped the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee plant 100 mangroves to mark 100 days before the Pacific Games. Not only did it become a great story, [but] it [also] really showed how responsible the sporting community could be.
When I first got involved in advocacy, all I can remember is putting my hand up. I was not taking part in the most popular sport or the most well-known athlete in Papua New Guinea, but that didn’t stop me.
Now it’s your turn
My advice to athletes who want to speak up about this is, first of all, put your hand up and think about what you’ll be doing in 20 years when you’re no longer competing. Could you look back and say that you’ve contributed to humanity?
I’m motivated to speak up and make a difference because I’m experiencing it. I’m seeing the impact of climate change happen before my eyes.