Inter-regional exchange for SIDS youth discusses solutions to climate crisis for frontline communities

Source: SPREP

10 December 2023, Dubai, UAE – An inter-regional exchange between youth from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was held today at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion, bringing together youth from the Pacific region, Caribbean, and Asia to share their experiences and some of the challenges they face living at the frontlines of the climate crisis, and what solutions are being deployed in their home countries to address them.

Ms Mahlet Mesfin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the United States Department of State, noted that while it’s important to acknowledge and highlight the challenges, it is also important to spotlight and celebrate the advocacy that the youth bring to the solution and raising their voices to world leaders to address the realities that they face.

“Young people bring much needed ingenuity, energy, and urgency to our efforts to address climate impacts in a just and equitable way. This is a product of necessity as much as it is a passion as your generation and the ones that follow you will bear most of the consequences of the climate crisis and I commend your leadership that each of you has shown in confronting these issues. “

The youth representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Fiji, Palau, Suriname, and Timor Leste, each asked what they believed would be a good solution to address the climate crisis, and Mr Kenley Kenneth of Palau highlighted the challenges that Pacific Island countries have with accessibility to climate finance and other resources they need as frontliners of the climate crisis.

“Yesterday we had a conversation about climate finance for our local communities and there were only three Pacific Islanders in the room. We talked about all these resources that were available and things that could be accessed to help our local communities address climate action, and yet the people that needed it the most weren’t there.”

“Engaging and being inclusive of the people who need these resources the most and not just saying that the resources are on the table but they have to figure out where the table is on their own is very important. We need to offer meaningful assistance to indigenous communities, youths, and other vulnerable groups that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to access these resources.”

Ms Mya Symister of Antigua and Barbuda highlighted the importance of education and youth involvement in addressing climate change in SIDS, as it becomes a way of providing youth with the formal education they need to understand the issues that affect them on a daily basis.
Individual responsibility was also identified as a solution to the climate crisis by Ms Raeann Gervais from Trinidad and Tobago.

“Being mindful of one’s carbon footprint and living a sustainable lifestyle through conserving energy and embracing renewable energy, supporting sustainable fashion and reducing waste production,” she said.

She also stated that community engagement is mportant, and that empowering our local communities is essential for climate change.

“I actively engage in environmental awareness incentives and conducting workshops to share knowledge within our communities that can help increase their resilience,” she added.

Mr Luciano Doest of Suriname identified dcolonisation and a human-rights approach as solutions suggested to address the historical and systematic underrepresentation of indigenous people in conversations and discussions on the climate crisis.

“The systems of colonisation still echo in our islands in this day and so we need intention from our people to change that. This is why we need a human-rights approach, to realise that every person has a right to clean drinking water, the right to be themselves, and the right to thrive.”

Mr Michael Sivendra concluded the panel discussion by stressing the importance of creating enabling spaces for youth to actively and meaningfully engage in the discussions that will have a direct impact on their future.

“If you take youth representatives to COP, make sure you invite them into the negotiation rooms so they can understand what is being negotiated. They need to understand the UNFCCC process and the only way they can understand is by being involved in the process.”

Source: SPREP