Aug 13, 2008 News
Under the theme, ‘Youth and Climate Change,’ the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) began a two day workshop focusing on Climate Change and its effects on various sectors of Guyana’s society.
As part of the workshop, a number of young people from the regions across Guyana were invited to the symposium.
Even as the young people gathered to discuss the effects of climate change in Guyana, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, who delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony, encouraged them to assist in the sensitisation and awareness aspects of the adaptation process while at the same time changing person’s attitude towards the environment.
The theme, Minister Persaud told the youths, is very important, especially if the nation is going to ensure that all groups understand how crucial climate change is and how devastating it can be if the wider society does not recognise its impacts.
Guyana, he said, is not a major contributor to climate change but the country’s good practices over the years, in following the sustainable development policy, have not prevented or shielded the country from the impact of climate change.
The effects of climate change are causing a lot of dislocation and affecting the smooth operation and management of the agriculture sector, he said.
“We have to adapt…we have made the investments that are necessary in the area of drainage and irrigation, sea-defense, our agricultural investments because there will be new threats, there will be new pests, new diseases…we will have to change the way we have done things…the country as a whole has started a programme of adapting to climate change.
“But we believe that our young people can make it easier for our country to adapt – the first thing highlighted was the need for sensitisation and awareness.”
He encouraged the young people to work with all the agencies to help in the adaptation process since, according to the Minister, this process is not seen as a singular effort.
Speaking about attitude change towards the environment, Persaud said that even if one has given up on the older generation attitudes, all hope is not lost since the current generation and the future generation can be the agents of change.
“Just yesterday (Monday) I was on the East Bank Demerara…we just finished a new sluice and we went there to check the sluice…In front of the sluice there was about half of a ton of garbage.
This is the reason why the pumps are damaged because people dispose the garbage in the waterways instead of using a disposal unit.”
Every year, the Minister pointed out to the youths, $750M is spent to clear canals and channels.
“Our attitude can contribute to and aggravate the problem of climate change and that is where I see the role of young people…going out in their groups and in the communities…looking at the elders and other young people who are dumping garbage and ensure that they do the right thing,” Minister Persaud said.
Among the topics that were discussed by the youths were the origin and direction of climate change, climate change and Guyana’s vulnerabilities, responding positively to climate change, and climate change and its impact on public health.
General Secretary of the GPSU, Chandrawattie Persaud, told the gathering that youth’s knowledge of climate change is essential for them to become sufficiently aware.
“Young people must learn to protect and conserve the natural environment…I believe that all of us have some idea about what is happening globally in terms of climate change…we need to be more cognisant of the changes taking place around us and to be prepared to address the consequences in our own way,” the General Secretary said.
She told the youths that she believes also that the climate change department must be more visible, especially in the most vulnerable areas in Guyana.
There ought to be a more proactive approach in addressing the vulnerable communities, she added.
“Protecting us from the ocean is important but we need other actions to be taken also, simultaneously…as such technical assistance and capacity building is needed in a number of areas including vulnerability assessment and learning from experiences of communities that are already adapting to climate change, research and development and technology transfer.”
International Youth Day not only provides the world with an opportunity to give recognition to the fact that youths have great potential but to also celebrate their achievements, Persaud added.
“It is time that we allow our youths to become actively involved to address the areas of preparedness, risk reduction, adaptation and mitigation,” she added.
On December 1999, the General Assembly, in its resolution, endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsibilities for Youth (Lisbon, August 8-12, 1998) that August 12, be declared International Youth Day.
The Assembly recommended that public information activities be organised to support the Day as a way to promote better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change (MACC) Project and the National Climate Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) will be holding a National Consultation to review a ‘Draft Strategy Plan to Build the Resilience of the Caribbean Community to A Changing Climate.’ The Draft Plan was developed by the CCCCC.
The Caribbean Region is recognised as being one of the most vulnerable regions to the adverse impacts of climate change.
This is a result of a number of factors, including its relative exposure to the adverse physical impacts of climatic changes such as sea level rise and increased temperatures, as well as its relatively high dependence on economic sectors that are climate sensitive. In Guyana, climate change is expected to affect major sectors of the country negatively.
The Consultation, which will be hosted at the Regency Suites, will allow for a wide array of sectors of society to share ideas and positions on key issues related to climate change as it relates to Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean. (Tusika Martin)
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