How Bermuda youth are promoting conservation and climate action |  FairPlanet

How Bermuda youth are promoting conservation and climate action | FairPlanet

For nearly 30 years, the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) has been cultivating knowledge of the oceans.

“We believe in understanding the ocean as a living organism in order to connect with it, appreciate it, and understand what climate change is doing to the ocean,” explained Karla Lacey, CEO of BUEI.

From November 21-26, BUEI is hosting the second edition of its Youth Climate Summit, a week-long event focused on conservation, sustainability and climate justice.

In 2021, around 150 young people between the ages of 13 and 22 participated in the summit and took action on different environmental fronts: from promoting food security by teaching small-scale gardening techniques and reducing the plastic used in food boxes. lunch at Bermuda mangroves reforestation and seagrass protection.

At this year’s summit, 160 students were expected to join the event, along with several international speakers and contributors, Lacey told FairPlanet.

The CEO added that since young people are currently overwhelmed with so much information, we need to investigate what they actually want to do in terms of environmental action and ensure that they are seriously heard.

“One of the challenges we have is to ensure that all sectors of the community, especially those most affected and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, are engaged and have a voice, and understand the importance of using that voice,” she said. said.

She added that she believes the power of people-to-people connection can make a difference, and that examples of collaboration around environmental causes leave her optimistic about the future of humanity and the planet.

Fabiola Adams, 16, who participated in the Climate Justice Group’s Gardening for Food Security Project last year, became an alumnus in 2022 and has mentored new members on sustainability practices and climate action.

She listed the benefits and achievements of the projects she and her colleagues engaged in, which included improved solutions to local plastic pollution problems, better preparedness for storms through the preservation of mangroves, and reduced impact. importing food to the island.

“[It also boosts] tourism, because people like to go to places where they can see climate action happening,” she added. Through the project, Adams also learned the importance of teamwork: “No one can do it alone, it’s a collective effort between nations, communities and people.”

sketching out a better future in the face of change

Lacey said that although Bermuda has been somewhat lucky in that it has not (at least so far) been hit by the harshest impacts of climate change, such as warming seas and coral bleaching, there are nevertheless many initiatives to improve the island. environment and prepare it for impending challenges.

In Bermuda, she added, citizens, local NGOs and government are taking responsibility for some of the most urgent adaptations needed to protect the environment and the ocean, both of which are intertwined with their livelihoods. subsistence.

There are, of course, several challenges at the local level that need to be addressed and overcome. Julie Steele, Director of Education at BUEI, explained that construction data is, for example, an area where small islands such as Bermuda need additional support.

Lacey, on the other hand, mentioned the cost of living, and being environmentally friendly, as a barrier to moving even further on the environmental front, as well as the difficulty of engaging certain demographics, such as young men.

“No one can do it alone, it’s a collective effort between nations, communities and people.”

For Andreas Ratteray, a Bermuda-born environmental scientist and one of the virtual hosts of the Youth Climate Summit, change can be an opportunity if community members and decision-makers accurately identify its parameters – such as the availability of freshwater – and work together to build the right strategy to adapt and understand how to ensure equitable access to resources.

“Climate change has a really negative connotation, but we have to remake its meaning,” Ratteray told FairPlanet. “The climate is changing, but we can write this story to have a positive outcome.”

He added, “[A] History allows us to understand how it was before, and that if we have experienced change in the past, we can experience change of an equal, if not greater, magnitude in the future.”

Small gestures matter

As Lacey, Steele, Adams and Ratteray prepared for the next virtual and physical gathering, one of the largest climate change summits, COP27, was taking place in Egypt (November 6-18), embodying, for some , the planet’s deepest hope for salvation.

For this proactive group, however, building the future is not just for world leaders.

Steele believes that every small action has the potential to have a positive impact and make a difference in the world.

Students in Bermuda are realizing through environmental education, she said, that they are not alone, that young people around the world face similar realities and are trying to make their voices heard. She says it’s all about building personal connections so participants are looking for their own ways to make a difference.

“You may have a passion for something, maybe music, or something completely different from what you think. [would be useful]but you can also have a positive impact on the environment and the climate,” she added, adding that she looks forward to the musical presentation of indigenous artist and activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.

Ratteray, for his part, pointed out that small actions are indeed incredibly helpful, as having a healthy environment locally is also a valuable goal.

“It’s helpful to have the big picture in mind, but at the end of the day, every decision you make also improves your environment,” he said. “It’s always a good idea to protect the environment, even if you don’t think of the whole world.”

In order for all of this to happen, Fabiola Adams, the youngest interviewee, highlighted the role of young people and the importance of a real commitment to climate justice and conservation.

“Don’t expect everything to happen right away, have patience,” she advised. “Some of your plans may be good, but not realistic, depending on your resources, such as time, money, people, and your location.

“Be prepared to delegate, if you are a leader, or be prepared to help where needed.”

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