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C'bean youth head to Bonn for climate talks

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Two Caribbean students, one from Jamaica and the other from Dominica, have won the opportunity to attend this year's global climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

The two, Michael Morgan of Campion College and Ashfred Norris of Dominica State College, were selected by the third Youth Climate Change Conference (YCCC) which happened at the Jamaica Conference Centre last week.

“Michael Morgan was particularly outstanding in both his submission and pitch presentation. Ashfred Norris's confirmation followed his impressive articulation of the human impact of Hurricane Maria on his home country,” Dainalyn Swaby, communication coordinator for Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II (Ja REEACH II), which organised the conference, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Their selection capped the two-day conference which featured multiple climate-themed competitions and produced a regional youth statement on climate change.

“Their attendance at COP23 will provide an opportunity for both delegates to share the youth statement and advocate the position of Caribbean youth on climate change on a global stage,” said Swaby.

Among the things they are proposing is to have infrastructure and building codes mandate, by the year 2020, the use of sustainable and renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power — with tax exemptions for those who comply — and mandatory fines for those that don't. They are also pushing for regional governments to incentivise programmes to promote youth interest and involvement particularly through educational opportunities; youth involvement in ongoing respective country research as required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; active participation of youth in policy decision-making through the establishment of youth arms in ministries with specific responsibility for climate change; and the development a social audit toolkit to assess the social and ethical performance of initiatives in tackling climate change.

“The statement reflects the stated intention of the youth to commence, or continue climate change-related action post YCCC 2017. It is a statement of their intention for action and provides a general guide for youth action by participating countries. Youths within each country must now decide on what are the priority items for them, and on which they will act or collaborate for action,” Swaby explained.

The two-day conference — on Tuesday, October 10 and Wednesday, October 11 — was guided by the theme: 'Our Climate, Our Voice, Our Change — Advancing Partnerships for Global Impact'. Over 600 participants from over 60 high schools and youth organisations from Japan, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname participated.

Activities at the conference included community- and policy-level advocacy trainings, an all-day exhibition, and visual and performing arts competitions. Jamaica's May Day High School copped the champion school award for top participation across several competitions. St Lucia and Japan were among the international winners, with the former finishing second and third in the poetry competition, and Japan finishing third in the poster competition.

“It is conferences like this one that equip young people with the facts they need to champion the cause of combating climate change. After both days, I left empowered and inspired to be a part of the change the world needs to see. I believe I speak on behalf of all youth delegates when I say it was a fulfilling experience, and we are now ready to vehemently put forth our proposals to our governments and heads of state,” said Shanielle Allen of Glenmuir High School and member of the Jamaica delegation in her reflection of the proceedings.

The conference is a joint initiative among the USAID-funded Ja REEACH II project, the United Nations Development Programme's Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) project, and the Government of Jamaica.

The Ja REEACH II project is a four-year initiative which works with government, private sector, civil society and community-based organisations to increase awareness and application of practical actions that help Jamaicans to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

The J-CCCP, meanwhile, is a regional initiative working in eight Caribbean countries, with funding from the Government of Japan, which works to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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