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Youth urged to lead charge against climate change

Thursday, February 22, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The nation's youth are being encouraged to initiate strategies that will assist in building the country's resilience against climate change.

This call comes from Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, who stressed that the youth have the capability to influence positive change on this very important matter.

“Your enthusiasm, imagination and energy are invaluable to the process of acting locally and thinking globally,” he said in a speech read by Government Senator, Matthew Samuda, at the launch of a Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Sensitisation project at the Half-Way Tree Primary School in Kingston on Tuesday.

Vaz said young people can start the process of change by showing their parents how to recycle, and advising against littering and the burning of garbage.

“These are the issues that lead to degradation of the environment and that will create other problems for you and me…(So) I am asking you today to lead the way and (advise) your parents… how to manage their habits, so that the environmental changes that we expect can either be slowed down or mitigated,” he said.

Vaz encouraged the students to “immerse yourself fully” in the climate-change sensitisation project and spread the message about adapting and mitigating climate change impacts.

“I cannot think of a better group to target with this project than our youth. Young people are a powerful force in our society, and this project will lend their voices to an issue that is likely to affect us all, young and old alike, today and in the future, unless we take decisive action to deal with its impacts,” he said.

He argued that while it is impossible to precisely predict the occurrence of disasters, “it is by being prepared that we will best be able to minimise the impact and severity of any damage or loss that could result”.

“We are all aware of the challenges that disasters bring and while we can hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst, and so we need to take responsibility for our preparedness,” he said.

An initiative of the Kiwanis Clubs of North and Eastern St Andrew, the project seeks to raise awareness about climate change and its impact on the society.

It targets 36 Kiwanis Service Leadership clubs, including Builders' Clubs in primary schools, Key Clubs in high schools and the Circle K Clubs at the tertiary level as well as other stakeholders with whom they interact.

The project also seeks to improve or build the capacity of schools to respond efficiently to disasters resulting from climate change and to develop sustainable approaches to risk mitigation.

Vaz expressed gratitude to the Kiwanis Clubs and “others, including our non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) which continue to spread the message of environmental sustainability and climate change adaptation and mitigation to our citizens”.

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