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Activists raise awareness of climate change

IMPORTANT JOURNEY: Ashneil Jeffers and Jevanic Henry were among the activists

TWO YOUNG Caribbean environmental activists have spoken about their participation in a recent event aimed at highlighting climate change in the region.

St Lucian Jevanic Henry and Montserratian Ashneil Jeffers were among a number of invited activists and campaigners who took part in the latest edition of the Peace Boat’s Ocean & Climate Youth Ambassador Programme.

They joined a group of six youth ambassadors, who represented other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) including Fiji, Tuvalu, Palau, Singapore, Seychelles, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The young leaders boarded the Peace Boat on a mission which aimed to amplify the call for action to address climate change and ocean degradation.

Both Henry and Jeffers said they wanted to do all they could to draw the attention of the international community to how the issue is deeply affecting the region, despite being minor contributors to climate change.

Henry said: “We are not the major contributors of climate change, but we stand to be greatly affected. “This is why, through this programme, we were able to meet with people from Granada (Spain), Morocco and Portugal, and bring our story to them in an effort to influence positive change.”

For many years, Henry has been deeply involved in a series of initiatives to raise awareness on environmental issues in his home country and regionally.

Thanks to funding from the Peace Boat’s Ocean & Climate Youth Ambassador Programme and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the 22-year-old Saint Lucian was able to take his message to the international arena. Additionally, Jeffers – who has been engaged in nongovernmental organisations as a volunteer for many years – also participated in the programme thanks to funding from the government of Montserrat and the Waitt Institute.

Speaking about the importance of the programme and the issues that Henry and Jeffers are trying to raise awareness of, Chamberlain Emmanuel, head of the OECS Environmental Sustainability Cluster, said: “Climate change and ocean degradation are issues which will critically determine the quality of life for the next generation, so it is encouraging to see youth from SIDS at the forefront of advocacy.

“The blue economy is also a theme which the OECS is driving through the Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project (CROP) by supporting robust policies, strategies and marine spatial plans through highly participatory processes involving youth and multiple relevant stakeholders.”

The youth ambassadors began the journey in Valletta, Malta on May 24 and reached New York City on June 9, just in time to participate in activities held in collaboration with the United Nations for the observation of World Oceans Day 2019.

The young activists also visited Granada (Spain), Tangiers (Morocco) and Ponta Delgada (Portugal) where they engaged with government representatives, university students and the general public on the consequences of climate change from the point of view of nationals of SIDS.

The Peace Boat’s Ocean & Climate Youth Ambassadors Programme was first launched in 2017 at the United Nations Ocean Conference.

It aims to highlight the stories and experiences of young people who are at the frontlines of climate change and ocean degradation by amplifying their voices.

Peace Boat’s Ocean & Climate Youth Ambassadors Programme includes interventions in public events, press conferences and meetings with government officials in multiple countries visited by the youth leaders with the vessel.

After the voyage, participants will use the experience and knowledge gained to contribute to their communities and internationally, engaging with young people to continue raising awareness.

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