By: Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services
#TheBahamas, July 6, 2022 – In an effort to build capacity and facilitate knowledge sharing among youth in the region, The Bahamas opened its inaugural Youth Conference on Climate Change on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at the University of the Bahamas.
The three-day event is organized by the Prime Minister’s Office in partnership with various stakeholders under the theme: “One Ocean. A climate. A future. Our collective path to COP27 – Centering Caribbean Youth in Climate Action.’
Bradley Watson and Maya Delaney, the first Youth Climate Ambassadors for the Bahamas, attended the opening ceremony. Participants included the Hon. Mario Bowleg, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture; The deputy. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training and the Hon. Vaughn Miller, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. The Urban Renewal Band provided entertainment.
Session Topics: The Ocean We Need for a Just Future for Small Island Developing States, Communications on Sustainable Development, The Climate Phrase You Need to Know, Understanding Loss and Damage and the Adaptation Pathway , and Climate Change and Agriculture: Food Sovereignty and Regeneration Agriculture.
Delivering the keynote address, Minister Hanna-Martin called on delegates to step up and make their voices heard.
“It is very important that as young people you understand your interest in this issue. This is personal to you. This is what you will face when we are off stage.
“In this particular conference, we have brought together young minds from across the region and some from outside the region, to come together, use your common sense, use your intellect, bring your passion and bring your conviction to this issue” , she said.
“It doesn’t just affect certain buildings or certain trees. It affects lives, your savings; everything. We must raise our voices. No matter how small we are, we have to roar on this issue.
“The time has come and your voice is here. When you go to Egypt (COP27) what we are discussing here will manifest on the agenda there because you are going to represent what the thoughtful opinions of young people in this region are because we are paying a high price in this Region.”
She expressed hope that at the end of the sessions, the Bahamas would bring to Egypt and elsewhere, “a powerful and insightful representation of what should happen and what needs to happen on this issue. We all have a stake in this planet. But you have a stake in the future,” she said.
Minister Miller said the fight is against what has happened over the past 10 years as an unconventional acceleration of climate change. Therefore, he said winning the battle requires untraditional and unconventional interventions from everyone.
He said: “For too long we have not sufficiently emphasized the importance of our young people in our global efforts to tackle the crises of climate change. We just didn’t take you seriously. Often we have ignored your input and relegated your experiences and contribution to mere “voices on the side”.
He encouraged the young people to return to their respective communities with renewed energy, passion and conviction.
“Attend local symposia on topics related to climate change, don’t hesitate to put forward your ideas because you are the next generation of leaders who will be called upon to address this crucial issue of climate change. Your exchanges showcased at this climate conference are designed to promote action, giving this climate change conference greater international visibility.
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November this year.
According to Rochelle Newbold, Special Advisor on Climate Change and Environmental Issues, the ideas put forward by participants will be merged into an outcome document that will be used to inform COP27 priorities.
Photo caption: Opening Ceremony of the Inaugural Bahamas Youth Conference on Climate Change, Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at the University of the Bahamas.
(BIS Photos/Mark Ford)