Youth Bridge the Gap Between Climate Change and Climate Awareness in Guyana

Members of Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) Guyana
chapter. CYEN is on a drive to empower youth to address big issues,
like climate change, facing their generation. Credit: Desmond
Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
GEORGETOWN, Jan 30 2019 (IPS)

A group of youngsters in the Caribbean who promote environmental
protection in the region is on a drive to empower other youth to
address some of the big issues facing their generation.

National Coordinator of Caribbean
Youth Environment Network (CYEN)
, Kiefer Jackson, says the
organisation has been working to gather the youth perspective,
build capacity at a grassroots level and fill the gaps that would
have been missed by government initiatives or plans.

“The Ministry of Presidency’s Office of Climate Change has
recognised the work being done by this chapter of CYEN and has
asked us to join with them this year in facilitating their climate
change awareness in schools around Guyana,” Jackson told IPS.

“We believe this partnership to be one step in the direction
of ensuring that young people play an active role in climate action
and ensure non-governmental organisation and government partnership
for the betterment of our people.”

Jackson said CYEN Guyana has been offering young people
experiential learning opportunities and internships overseas which
help to build the country’s capacity for climate resilience.

As far as capacity is concerned, last year, CYEN was approved by
YOUNGO, the Children and Youth
constituency to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change, to undertake a Conference of Youth in the countries where
CYEN operates. CYEN’s website reflects a presence in Antigua and
Barbuda, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint
Lucia, among others.

Jackson added that the activity was used to assist in further
building the current participatory environmental awareness
programmes for young citizens of Guyana.

“We have also been engaging in a series of panel discussions,
in an effort to inform and educate young people on the Sustainable
Development Goals,” Jackson said.

“The last talk would have been on Goal 13 (Climate Action).
Based on the feedback of these activities, we have recognised that
young people in Guyana, have robust and innovative ideas and we
have been working on creating a platform for them to showcase their
ideas or projects that guarantee the strengthening resilience and
adaptive capacity to climate change in Guyana.”

In addition to facilitating larger scale education and
awareness, Jackson believes more attention should be given to
ensuring adequate and appropriate infrastructure and housing that
can withstand, as far as possible, the perils of climate
change.

Guyana is plagued by poorly-maintained drainage and sea defence
infrastructure.

The low coastal plain which houses the capital Georgetown, and
where a large percentage of the population resides, is below sea
level and at high risk of flooding. “With the effects of climate
change becoming even more present through intensifying natural
disasters, more should be done to prepare this region for what
seems to be inevitable,” Jackson said.

“We can also ensure that there are early warning systems and
more accurate forecasts – information that can be passed on to
farmers through simple technology.”

In addition to being prone to flooding, Guyana is also affected
by drought.

Joseph Harmon, Minister of State in the Ministry of the
Presidency of Guyana, says drought and flooding have proven to be a
double-edged sword, especially for the country’s farmers.

“Some people might find it difficult to appreciate that in a
country like Guyana, a part of the tropical rainforest, that you
can still have portions of this land which have drought,” Harmon
told IPS.

“But I can say to you that in the south Rupununi . . . we do
have some portions of that land that for a part of the year they
have drought, and at other times they have flooding.”

He said government has taken steps to address the problem of
flooding with the implementation of projects by the Ministry of
Agriculture.

“They are dealing with how to sustainably harvest water so
that it can be utilised for farming and other domestic purposes,”
Harmon said.

“In the period of drought, we are now looking at the question
of utilisation of wells.”

In December 2017, the Guyana Government and the Government of
the Federative Republic of Brazil signed a technical cooperation
agreement for the implementation of a project to reduce the impact
of drought in the Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo, Region 9 of
Guyana.

Harmon said the agreement was established to mitigate the
historical impact of droughts in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo
region and its implementation has so far resulted in the drilling
of eight wells that are now providing year-round potable water to
the indigenous peoples in the south Rupununi.

In its quest to bridge the gap between climate change and
climate awareness, Jackson said CEYN is hampered by limited
availability of financial resources, particularly for long term
projects that could ensure sustainability.

Additionally, she said quite often, urgent need for climate
action is hampered by the effects not always being glaring to the
public eye.

“So, the challenge is making climate seem real in the context
of day to day life in the Caribbean,” Jackson said.

“Hurricane season is once a year. Sea level rise is slow and
almost unnoticeable. We try to identify indicators which can catch
people’s attention, and which are personal as well as
immediate.”

The post
Youth Bridge the Gap Between Climate Change and Climate Awareness
in Guyana
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Youth Bridge the Gap Between Climate Change and Climate Awareness in Guyana