Hours after Barbados joined more than 170 other countries in signing the Paris Climate Agreement, the local chapter of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) gathered at Brandon’s Beach last evening to commemorate the event with the release of sky lanterns.
The programme, dubbed ‘Shining Light on Climate Change’, also coincided with the observance of Earth Day.
Under the Paris accord, which was reached at the United Nations Climate Change conference last December, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, while aiming for a cap of 1.5 degrees.
“This is a very important historical day for all of us here at Caribbean Youth Environment Network, and we wanted through the media to educate and make … regular citizens aware of climate change and what implications it has on us.
“We want people to follow and create some level of action in terms of our climate, we often encounter quite a few things regarding climate change in terms of our water scarcity issues, we also felt a level of heat for the last few days which has made us very uncomfortable and these are very definite signs of climate change,” Coordinator of CYEN Barbados Sade Deane said.
Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports, Stephen Lashley, reminded the gathering that Barbados is one of the small island developing states leading the discussion on climate change while being adversely impacted by it.
“We are not in any way safeguarded from the impacts and ravages of climate change, we are a small state. We are being impacted on particularly on the west coast by the rising sea level and you would have seen quite a bit of erosion taking place over the years on the west coast in particular.
“Barbados is vulnerable because we depend certainly to a large extent on tourism as our major earner of foreign exchange, but more importantly our environment can be impacted on by climate change in so many ways. We are currently looking through the ministry of environment at how we are going to protect our reefs from further damage, some of it course is from pollution and some of it is as a result of the changes of the wave movement on our shoreline,” Lashley said.
The minister also noted that illegal dumping is another major environmental concern that the government has been grappling with in recent times, and stated that the Freundel Stuart administration has adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards the practice.
“I want young people to lead in this regard, to call on others who are found dumping, whether it is a piece of papers whether it is a bigger bit of garbage but whatever it is, I want young people in Barbados to be very forthright in calling on illegal dumpers to clean up their act. Our beaches have suffered from that, and we see many young groups going on the beaches and having to clean up on weekends and that should not be.
“If we contribute to illegal dumping, we are also endangering our environment, we are moving away from what we want to achieve,” he noted.
The minister appealed to the young people present to take an active role in helping to protect the environment.
“We really need more young people forming organisations that will take the lead and come up with initiatives that are creative and certainly support the very area of climate change and how we can protect ourselves against climate change,” Lashley said. (KK)