Caribbean and Japanese youth confront climate issues at Youth Climate Change Conference

Oct 13, 2017

Caribbean and Japanese youth have put forward their recommendations for climate-smart actions for the region following two days of intense dialogue between October 10-11, 2017 at the third staging of the Youth Climate Change Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
The two-day event themed “Our Climate, Our Voice, Our Change - Advancing Partnerships for Global Impact” saw over 600 participants from over 60 high schools and youth organizations from Jamaica, the Caribbean region and Japan propose solutions to combat climate change.
The conference opened with a youth Conference of the Parties with nine youth delegations from Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Japan presenting country reports and recommending youth led actions to climate change.

Youth draft statement on climate change
The recommendations which have been collated into a youth statement, ranged from research, capacity building, youth activism, policy and legal/regulatory framework needs, including: incentivising programmes to promote youth interest and involvement, particularly through educational opportunities; youth involvement in ongoing respective country research as required by the UNFCCC; active participation of youth in policy decision making, establishment of youth arm in ministries with specific responsibility for climate change, developing a social audit toolkit to assess the social and ethical performance of initiatives in tackling climate change; advocating that infrastructure and building codes mandate the use of sustainable and renewable sources of energy, such as the use of solar power, wind power, and geothermal power, with tax exemptions for those who comply, and mandatory fines for those that do not comply, by the year 2020. (This applies to new infrastructure built or commissioned after 2020).

Other activities at the conference included community and policy level advocacy trainings which benefitted some 60 attendees on day one.  The conference also included an all-day exhibition and visual and performing arts competitions. Saint Lucia and Japan were among the international winners, with the former finishing second and third in the poetry competition and Japan finishing third in the poster competition. Jamaica’s May Day High School copped the coveted champion school award for top participation across several competitions.

“It is conferences like this one that equip young people with the facts they need to champion the cause of combating climate change. After both days, I left empowered and inspired to be a part of the change the world needs to see. I believe I speak on behalf of all youth delegates when I say it was a fulfilling experience and we are now ready to vehemently put forth our proposals to our governments and Heads of State”, said Shanielle Allen, member of the Jamaica delegation in her reflection of the proceedings.

Shanika John of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines delegation held a similar sentiment. She noted that the next step is for each delegation to convey information to relevant stakeholders and authorities. Ms. John further explained that she now has a greater understanding of regional negotiations but maintained that there’s a need for consistency and determination so that results are realised. UNDP J-CCCP will support the participation of two persons from the Dominica and Jamaica delegation in COP23.

The conference was a joint initiative between the USAID-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II (Ja REEACH II) Project, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) Project and the Government of Jamaica.

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