Thu | Sep 24, 2020

Earth Today | Youths get ‘shot’ at having water ventures bankrolled

Published:Thursday | August 13, 2020 | 12:05 AM
The need to prioritise water security is seen as vital for the Caribbean as part of climate resilience building for the region.
The need to prioritise water security is seen as vital for the Caribbean as part of climate resilience building for the region.

THE GLOBAL Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) is keen on making young people change agents for the realisation of water security for the region, a fact that forms at least a part of the rationale for the recently launched Young Caribbean Water Entrepreneurs Shark Tank Competition.

“GWP-C has for many years recognised the critical importance of creating avenues for young people to become involved in water governance and management ventures. Development challenges in the Caribbean will ultimately be inherited by the region’s youth,” shares the entity.

“Young people are providers of solutions and have ideas and energy to act for sustainable development. GWP-C, therefore, sees the importance of empowering young people to be agents of change in contributing to and advancing Caribbean water security,” it added.

Thanks to GWP-C’s collaboration with the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre, young people, aged 18 to 34, now have the opportunity to “pitch innovative and impactful water project ideas to support better water resources management in their community, country or the Caribbean region” under a variety of themes. Those themes include ‘water and climate’, ‘water and agriculture’, ‘water and health’, ‘water and energy’ and ‘water and tourism’.

Participants will get to pitch their ideas directly to the competition’s investors or ‘sharks’, as they are being called, for the opportunity to secure seed funding of 4,000 euros, to advance their innovative water-related project ideas.

“Through GWP-C’s work and interaction with its youth partners and young people within water and related sectors, they often do not have access to funding or resources to easily advance their project ideas. Additionally, they do not always have easy access to technical support to turn their ideas into fully workable projects,” the GWP-C said of the competition, which is now in its second year.

The ‘sharks’ will include investors, such as GWP-C partners, entrepreneurs, water and environmental specialists, innovation strategists, business development specialists, youth representatives, and government officials, among others.

BATTLE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE

In addition to Jamaica, entrants to the competition, launched on August 5, must be nationals of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Cayman Islands, or Turks and Caicos Islands.

For full details on the competition, for which the deadline for applications has been put at midnight on October 14, interested persons can visit the GWP-C website.

The competition comes as the Caribbean engages in the ongoing battle with climate change, which presents a variety of risks to the region, including to water security. This is associated with the threat of extreme weather events, including droughts fuelled by global temperature increases, as well as seawater intrusion into freshwater resources related to rising sea levels.

Such realities have compelled a number of stakeholders, including Professor Michael Taylor, a celebrated physicist who has served the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to call for the prioritisation of water.

“The temperature will continue increasing about one degree up to 2040, and that is further from where we are now. We have warmed by about one degree over the last 50 years. What that really translates into is, the number of really hot days is increasing every year and the number of really hot nights is also increasing and will continue to increase,” he told The Gleaner as far back as 2014.

“Rainfall will continue with this form of variability, which is a yearly swing between drought and flood conditions, but by 2040 will show the beginning of an overall long-term drying trend. This means that, from 2040 onward, even though we will get rain, we will get less overall rain,” added Taylor.

He noted at the time that the solution was a comprehensive look at water security.

“We need to be concerned about water capture, water storage, water access, conservation, efficiency, and using science to help us to better plan for these kinds of extreme variations,” noted the professor, who is currently the dean of science and technology at The University of the West Indies and co-lead for the Climate Studies Group, Mona.

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