Global Vision Summit 2022- Water is Life | Ka Wai Ola

March 10, 2022


Global Vision Summit 2022 in a Word:

The Pacific & Asian Affairs Council (PAAC) was thrilled to welcome students to our first in-person event since 2020. Our Global Vision Summit- Water is Life | Ka Wai Ola, held on March 5, 2022 in partnership with Chaminade Universityʻs new CIFAL Center of Honolulu. Our focus was the complex and global challenge of water. From droughts to flooding, resource management to hydro-modification, and the indigenous perspectives of the Kanaka Maoli, students learned that water needs to be valued and protected and is essential to all life. It was affirming to see everyone and feel the energy of students and teachers learning together!


“[The sessions] were very well done and the
speakers were on point. I wish I could've gone
to all [sessions], but 100% understand that time
restricted it. It was still very good and probably
my favorite GVS!”




What our experts shared!



Impact of drought and sea-level rise

Dr. Ethan Allen shared his work on the complex issue of developing freshwater systems to serve the people of low-lying atolls in the island nations of Micronesia. Such nations struggle as sea-levels rise and freshwater is impacted by salinity as well as contamination. We can see these types of impacts throughout South Asia as sea levels and king tides ruin food crops and drinking water systems. In solving for these impending impacts, issues of scale, appropriate technologies, conservation, and stewardship are always present and shape responses to, and mitigation of, water crises.
 “I can use less water in my daily life and
decrease my carbon footprint. I can keep
experiencing my life through the water of
my island and use those experience to
further my understanding."

Impact of warming oceans and human pollution and over fishing:

Dr. Mark Hixon shared his research on the impacts of a warming globe on our nearshore coral reefs. Students learned that our ʻuhu is a keystone fish on our reefs and overfishing creates great damage to the health of these ecosystems already struggling to survive warming waters, increased salinity, and contamination from sunscreens that are not reef safe. Coral reefs, the rainforests of tropical seas, provide many goods and services for people, yet we have not been good stewards of these amazing ocean ecosystems. After illustrating the many benefits of coral reefs for humanity, Hixon focused on how we all can act to save these remarkable undersea gardens. (Watch a similar talk here)

 “It is not hopeless. We can save the ocean.
I really liked the interaction parts. Dr Mark
Hixon was an inspiring idol for me wanting
to become a Marine Biologist. Thank you!”


Impact of aging infrasture and cesspools on nearshore ecosystems:

Christina Comfort, of Wastewater Alternatives and Innovations, shared her work in developing better ways to manage our wastewater. She highlighted the research conducted in Puakō, Hawaiʻi, which found that approximately six hours after residents flushed their toilets, their wastewater, which is not sealed in a septic tank, found its way to the surf line up. From drinking water wells to coral reefs, students learned about the impacts of cesspools and solutions for cleaning up wastewater pollution.
“Every person can do something to help
a big problem, whether it be writing
testimony or finding alternatives to
cesspools. No matter who you are, you
can help and your help is needed.”


Impact of aging infrastructure, energy needs and defense on the drinking water of O'ahu and other global examples:

Wayne Tanaka, of the Sierra Club, shared the critical history of the public domain of trust when it comes to our water systems in Hawaiʻi. He featured the critical issues of water contamination by the fuel tanks of Red Hill, U.S. Navy and supported students’ understanding of our government's commitment to protecting all water as it is essential to life. He cited additional breaches of this trust and protection of water systems in the global communities of Okinawa, Guahan, China, Puerto Rico, and on the U.S. continent with the Dakota pipeline. These are complex issues for competing needs from energy, to defense, to agriculture. Water is a valued resource caught between human needs and population growth. While, from an indigenous perspective, it is not a resource but the source of all life and therefore should always rise above any competing needs.

“It's not the matter of not being able to
fix things, but the matter of being able
to have that understanding of simple
lifestyle changes from the entire
population. The solutions are out there,
but aren't in the right places.”


Here is how our Arts and Action facilitators engaged students:



Poetry and art through wai: 

Lauren Nakanishi and Meleanna Meyers collaborated on an arts and poetry expression workshop. Students were encouraged to develop their connection to ʻāina and wai through poetry and a watercolor design. This dynamic artistic duo led students through a whirlwind, 40 minutes to inspire the next ACTIONABLE steps! Using the inspiration of “ Water as life”, students created a personal visual statement using WAI symbolism as well as a poem expressing their connection to wai.

“Very timely topics. Glad the topics
included the arts and the Hawaiian
culture (oli, pule, and a discussion of
the 'āina/ahupuaʻa).”


History, community and restoration through wai:

Kumu Kehaulani Lum and Kanani DʻAngelo shared the history and the restoration of a 400-year old royal Hawaiian fishpond, Loko I’a Pāʻaiau, located in the Kalauao ahupua‘a in the ‘Ewa moku on the mokupuni of O‘ahu. Students were encouraged to connect to their wahi pana to uplift their wai. Students and the community are encouraged to get involved in their ahupua‘a, but all are welcome to support this ongoing restoration. Learn more here.


Mahalo nui loa

PAAC is grateful for our volunteers and team.  Without you, we would not have had such a successful event. PAAC extends our mahalo to you!


GVS volunteers: Fa Chanthalangsy, Victoria Delacruz, Donna Telio, Karen Chun and Merle Grybowski


Global Vision Summit is generously sponsored by:



City & County of Honolulu, Grants in Aid Program

Freeman Foundation

Mamoru & Aiko Takitani Foundation