Less Talk and More Action – Meeting for World Environment Day 2022

by HCC

World Environment DayLess talk and more action – this was one of the prominent calls that arose from the Healthy Caribbean Youth’s meeting for World Environment Day on June 2nd 2022. The meeting, moderated by Healthy Caribbean Youth member and young climate activist, Priyanka Lalla, aimed to showcase Caribbean youth-driven action for human and planetary health and create a space to discuss Caribbean youth’s proposed solutions to jointly protect our Caribbean and our people’s health.

Youth continue to be at the forefront of climate justice and are one of the loudest voices demanding urgent action from policymakers as they are the ones that will have to bear the burden of a reality that experts’ have already stated will be catastrophic if we don’t act now.

Less talk and more action!

Youth bring hope, passion, innovative thinking and solutions to the climate action battle and this was exemplified during the meeting’s presentations and discussion:

Ashley Lashley (Founder of the Ashley Lashley Foundation and HEY Campaign) and Ranako Bailey (Project Administrator for the HEY Campaign) from Barbados shared information about the Foundation’s initiative – The HEY (Healthy and Environmentally friendly Youth) Campaign. The HEY Campaign “is all about creating a generation of young people committed to adopting lifestyles that are both healthy and environmentally friendly, and leading global advocacy efforts to build inclusive societies where priority is given to life and dignity, not just economic growth.” The HEY Campaign is recruiting ambassadors from across the globe and will be introducing a HEY Global Climate fund to assist climate change activities with their climate projects. More information about this youth-driven campaign can be found here!

Dominique Allen from Trinidad and Tobago, one of the youth involved in Earth Medic Earth Nurse, an organisation dedicating to promoting the health of people and the planet, shared information about the organisation’s initiatives to amplify the youth voice in an effort advocate for action on health and climate. For example, in October 2021, Earth Medic Earth Nurse facilitated a Conference on Climate Change and Health in Small Island Developing States: Focus on the Caribbean. Youth-powered side events were also held during the conference and youth were featured as panelists. Currently, Earth Medic Earth Nurse and partners are wrapping up their first Caribbean Climate and Health Responders Course to shape a more climate-educated health workforce; this is one among many other initiatives that aim to gather diverse stakeholders (within and outside of the health sector) to become more climate-educated and take action!

Rasheed Perry, Lecturer, Researcher, Food Scientist and Healthy Caribbean Youth from Jamaica delivered a presentation on the impact of climate change on mental health using powerful case studies from his home country. One case study that resonated with many focused on the popular Hellshire Beach in Jamaica which is now eroded. Rasheed mentioned that this product of climate-change not only affects beachgoers but communities who live near the beach and use it to ply their trade. This new reality has an impact on their mental health, with significant increases in anxiety and depression and poor coping mechanisms.

The meeting ended with a short but impactful discussion. It was clear that youth understand the urgency and are demanding action. Here are some words/phrases from the meeting that capture what they think should be prioritized to protect our health and planet:

Less Talk, more Action. Research. Coalition Building across sectors to support a climate action and health agenda. Capacity Building. Climate Education in Schools. Comprehensive policies that act on health and climate. Enforcement of policies. Meaningful youth engagement.

Do you know of a Caribbean youth-driven initiative focused on health and the environment? Tell us about at hcc@healthycaribbean.org!