Caribbean, Japan youth confront climate issues at conference
Caribbean and Japanese youth have put forward their recommendations for climate-smart actions for the region following two days of intense dialogue during the third staging of the Youth Climate Change Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston last week.
The two-day event, themed 'Our Climate, Our Voice, Our Change - Advancing Partnerships for Global Impact', saw more than 600 participants from more than 60 high schools and youth organisations from Jamaica and the region propose solutions to combat climate change.
The conference opened with a youth conference of the parties with nine youth delegations from Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Japan presenting country reports and recommending youth-led actions to climate change.
Draft statement on climate change
The recommendations, which have been collated into a youth statement, ranged from research, capacity building, youth activism, policy and legal/regulatory framework needs, included incentivising 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, establishment of youth arm in ministries with specific responsibility for climate change, developing a social audit toolkit to assess the social and ethical performance of initiatives in tackling climate change; advocating that infrastructure and building codes mandate the use of sustainable and renewable sources of energy, such as the use of solar power, wind power, and geothermal power, with tax exemptions for those who comply, and mandatory fines for those that do not comply, by the year 2020.
Youth inspired to be part of change
Other activities at the conference included community-and policy-level advocacy trainings which benefited some 60 attendees on day one. The conference also included an all-day exhibition and visual and performing arts 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. May Day High School copped the coveted champion school award for top participation across several competitions.
"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.
Following the conference, two delegates, Michael Morgan of Campion College, Jamaica, and Ashred Norris from Dominica have been selected to represent their respective countries in youth-related events at COP 23 in Germany this November.
The conference is a joint initiative between the USAID-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II Project, the United Nations Development Programme's Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership Project and the Government of Jamaica.