First-ever Conference of Youth on Climate Change opens in The Bahamas

Opening Ceremony of the inaugural Bahamas Conference of Youth on Climate Change, Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at the University of The Bahamas. (BIS Photos/Mark Ford)

With the aim of increasing capacity and facilitating knowledge sharing among young people in the region, The Bahamas opened its inaugural Conference of Youth on Climate Change, Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at the University of The Bahamas. The three-day event is organized by the Office of the Prime Minister in partnership with various stakeholders on the theme: ‘One Ocean. One Climate. One Future. Our Collective Pathway to COP27 – Centering Caribbean Youth in Climate Action.’

Bradley Watson and Maya Delaney, the first Youth Climate Ambassadors for The Bahamas, attended the opening ceremony. Participants included the Hon. Mario Bowleg, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture; the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training and the Hon. Vaughn Miller, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources. The Urban Renewal Band provided entertainment.

Session topics: The Ocean We Need for a Just Future for Small Island Developing States, Sustainable Development Communications, The Climate Phrase That You Need to Know, Understanding Loss & Damage and the Pathway to Adaptation, and Climate Change & Agriculture: Food Sovereignty & Regenerative Agriculture. Delivering the keynote address, Minister Hanna-Martin called on the delegates to step up and let their voices be heard.

“It is very important that as young people you understand your stake in this issue. This is personal to you. This is what you will face when we are off the scene.

“In this particular conference, we have brought together young minds from all over the region and some from outside the region, to come together, to use your good common sense, to use your intellect, to bring your passion, and to bring your conviction to this issue,” she said.

“This does not just affect some buildings or some trees. It affects lives, your economies; everything. We have to raise our voices. I don’t care how small we are, we have to roar on this issue.

“The time is now and your voice is here. When you go to Egypt (COP27) what we discuss in here is going to be manifested on the agenda there because you are going to be representing what the considered views are of the young people in this region because we are paying a high price in this region.”

She expressed the hope that at the end of the sessions, The Bahamas would take to Egypt and anywhere, “a powerful, insightful representation of what should happen and what must happen on this issue. We all have a stake in this planet. But you have a stake in the future,” she said.

Minister Miller said the fight is against what has transpired during the past 10 years as non-conventional acceleration in climate change. Consequently, he said winning the battle calls for non-traditional, non-conventional interventions by everyone.

He said, “For far too long we have not placed sufficient emphasis on the importance of our young people in our global efforts to address the climate change crises. We have just not taken you seriously. Oftentimes we have ignored your input and have relegated your experiences and input to just ‘voices on the side.’”

He encouraged the youth to return to their respective communities with renewed energy, passion, and conviction.

“Attend the local symposiums on climate change topics, do not be hesitant to put your ideas forward because you are the next generation of leaders who will be called on to address this critical issue of climate change.

Your exchanges put forth at this climate conference are designed to promote action, thereby moving this climate change conference to greater international prominence.” The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November of this year. According to Rochelle Newbold, special advisor on Climate Change and Environmental Matters, ideas put forth by the participants will be amalgamated into an outcome document which will be used to inform priorities for COP27.