Youth encouraged to boldly confront climate change

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Planning and Development Pennelope Beckles and British High Commissioner Harriet Cross, centre, with, from left, international Scouts commissioners Jeremiah Dookhoo and Mark Ainsley John, Melody Wilson, and national youth commissioner Nikoli Mohammed during a reception for Chevening alumni and youth climate change leaders, in Maraval. – Ayanna Kinsale

Minister of Planning and Development Pennelope Beckles said it is important to build professionals in the fields of environment and climate change now as the issue poses a threat to development and the future of the country’s youths.

Speaking at a reception with Chevening alumni and youth climate change leaders at the residence of the British High Commissioner in Maraval on July 4 afternoon, she said bold and youthful thinking as well as transformative action is necessary to deal with the increasing threats to the environment and socio-economic well-being by climate change. She encourages youths not to be afraid to try new things.

“I encourage you (youths) not to be shy of the impending prospects, as dire as they may seem. But to boldly confront those realities with courage, creativity, innovation, ambition, transformative and critical thinking, and above all, determined optimism.”

Beckles said encouragement by the Environment Management Authority (EMA) in the form of its Green Leaf Awards could spur ambition and inspire youths to do more in the field. She said Brazil Secondary School in Couva has a butterfly garden and had participated in the Bioscan project where insects are trapped, collected and sent abroad for identification and DNA bar coding. It was also part of the BES-Net TT project which dealt with conserving the environment through the managing of pollination and pollinators with the help of UNDP and the Ministry of Planning.

Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development’s Office Minister for the Americas and the Caribbean David Rutley said the Caribbean is an important part of the world for the British government. He said he has listened to its concerns and opportunities, and climate change is at the top of the agenda because the islands are very vulnerable.

“We are absolutely committed to standing firm with all of you in those challenges. There is what we call SIDS allies, Small Island Developing States, and I am here working really hard ahead of a big conference that’s going to take place next year to tackle those challenges with you.”

He applauded the Green Leaf awardees for their positive contributions and innovative solutions to protect the environment and the earth’s biodiversity. He said ages 15 – 25 is the time to seize the opportunities ahead so it is important to give them opportunities.

“It’s vital that we see and listen to your suggestions and your ideas early on. It would give you the chance to have an input in helping to solve the problems of today.”

He said lauded the 40-year-old Chevening scholarship programme which gives scholarships and fellowships to professionals around the world, allowing them to study in the UK. The alumni in attendance are working in various environmental fields and he praised their passion, energy, influence and leadership.

Green Leaf award winner Kalain Hosein of CNC3 said he has been using his platform to highlight the impact of climate change in the region. He said the generations before this one failed to control climate change and youths are the ones suffering from its impacts of the problem.

“Novel solutions that many of you were awarded (for) at the EMA, there are the solutions that we need to take us to the next era of solving this very large problem of climate change. It can be daunting but every little bit counts.”