Sat | Apr 29, 2017

Editorial: Searching for climate justice

Published:Saturday | September 19, 2015 | 9:00 AM

Today, we hail the upcoming Youth Climate Change Conference to be held in Kingston for the tremendous potential it holds to raise awareness and generally contribute to a better understanding of how climate change will affect the development of the most vulnerable members of society.

Given the phenomenal changes in climate and weather patterns, all countries are considerably vulnerable and must be prepared to effectively deal with the consequences such as higher temperatures, drought, flooding and food shortage.

And this conference, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, in collaboration with relevant government ministries, is mandated to make submissions towards a climate-change action framework for Jamaican schools. In a way, they are in search of climate justice for future generations.

Whenever young people get together, there is an expectation that there will be bold, meaningful dialogue. This conference will no doubt be bursting with the energy, passion and enthusiasm that can only come from a room of a few hundred intelligent young persons. It is from such forums that front-line advocates and leaders will emerge to, hopefully, steer our country in the right direction.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon believes "ambitious answers" to the effects of global climate change will come from youth in assemblies such as these. He has suggested that the youth can take action to strengthen resilience to climate change. "Use your power as voters and consumers," he urged the youth, while suggesting that they should remind their leaders of the political and social responsibility they owe to future generations.

Proper context

However, we feel strongly that the impact of climate change cannot be considered in isolation; it must be seen within the context of the development challenges that are currently affecting the country. These include high unemployment and high levels of crime and violence.

We feel that a similar formula to that being employed to deal with climate change ought to be used to develop a formidable response to Jamaica's nagging problem of crime and violence, which largely involves the youth. Indeed, research has pointed to the fact that the 15-29 age group is disproportionately represented as both victims and perpetrators of crime. This cohort has been identified as being responsible for 98 per cent of all major crimes committed in Jamaica.

Youth unemployment and the potential for at-risk youth to be lured into crime are some of the factors that law-enforcement administrators must take into consideration when they are shaping any kind of response.

We are at a point when the country desperately needs a systematic and practical approach to finding long-term solutions to the violence that has ravaged so many of our communities over many decades. The top brass of the Jamaica Constabulary Force appears to be a spent, frustrated force in need of a few good ideas.

Given the high level of youth-perpetuated violence, it is imperative that all the major stakeholders in the private and public sector come together to find lucrative pathways out of this crime field.