Veteran journalist Tony Fraser challenged young people to adopt “political action” for the conservation and protection of the environment, during an afternoon panel discussion on “Sustainable Society: what is my responsibility?” It took place during the Youth for Climate Change Forum at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, on August 4. The theme was Empowering Youth for a Sustainable Society. “Now that you have an awareness and consciousness about the need to take care of the environment, you must take political action. I don’t mean joining a political party. It could be writing a letter to the editor and becoming involved in the highway protest at Debe. “It must mean something to you. Not just joining the protest,” Fraser said.
“You must feel strongly about it. You must believe there is some merit in it. Whatever you determine is important, should be your guide to political action. Take political action on the issues that you believe are valid.” He urged them to prevail upon the business community, institutions and the Government to institute the changes they wish to effect. But he warned them “change would not come about by whistling but through conscious action by people.” Minister in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Ramona Ramdial also addressed the youths. She reiterated the need for young people to “ensure we (T&T) cultivate a culture of value for our flora and fauna.” “It is critical we consider the close relationship between environmental, economic and social issues. There is still a lot of work to be done to communicate the importance of sustainability. “I am confident T&T is on the right path to increasing awareness of environmental issues in T&T—especially among the nation’s youth,” Ramdial said. Among the topics discussed were melting glaciers, water conservation, soil erosion, food security, endangered species like leatherback turtles, reafforestation and changing weather patterns.
Attending the session were Linda Hutchinson-Jafar, editor, Earth Conscious Magazine; Dr Charmaine Gomes, co-ordinator, Sustainable Development Unit at the ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean; Kyle De Lima, activist, Trini Eco-Warriors; and Amanda Laurence, national information officer, United Nations Information Centre. They were joined by Guyanese Ambassador to Belgium Patrick Gomes; Youth Environmental Activist Shahad Ali; Joshua Boodram and journalists Wesley Gibbings and Golda Lee-Bruce. During the interactive sessions, speakers stressed the need for youth to adapt and mitigate, shoulder responsibility, adopt sustainable lifestyles and encourage stakeholders to strive for a “greener” environment. Hutchinson-Jafar said: “You can serve as agents of change. I have no doubt this forum has brought together promising youth leaders and advocates who can truly make a difference throughout communities in T&T. Create alliances with other youth delegates and transform innovative ideas into action. “Right here in the Caribbean, many young people are adopting sustainable lifestyles because they realise climate change is a major threat to their well-being.”