During this year COP23 climate conference, the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) and Solar Head of State (SHOS) launched a partnership to promote education on renewable energy across the Caribbean region.
The CYEN is a non-profit, civil society, charitable body that focuses its resources on empowering young people and their communities to develop actions to address socio-economic and environmental issues. The CYEN programme aims at addressing issues such as poverty alleviation and youth employment, health and HIV/AIDS, climatic changes and global warming, impact of natural disasters/hazards, improvement in potable water, conservation and waste management and other natural resource management issues.
For this year’s COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany, the CYEN delegation includes youth from Haiti, Barbados, Aruba, Grenada, Dominica, Trinidad & Tobago, St Lucia and the Bahamas. See the appendix for biographical information on each of the young people attending this year.
Solar Head of State is a non-profit organization that works in small island developing states to promote access to renewable energy. The organization last year partnered with the Government of Saint Lucia to install panels on the island’s Government House. Through a partnership with the Government of Jamaica, SHOS will install solar panels on Jamaica House, the Office of the Prime Minister.
The installation of panels on the national Leader’s official residence is symbolic of the wider leadership on renewable energy by SIDS, and serves a physical embodiment of Caribbean politician’s commitment to fighting climate change and using renewable energy.
CYEN and SHOS organizations will work together to run competitions and educational programs about renewable energy across CYEN’s 20 islands members.
CYEN Delegation leader Alexandra Vanessa Destin Pierre said, “if the Small Island Developing States are worldwide known for their limited resources, there is one natural resource and source of energy which is practically unlimited and free all year long for all of our inhabitants: it is our sun. The COP23, Chaired for the first time by a SIDS country, is the ideal Conference for that wake-up call on the urgency to promote renewable energy within the Caribbean region. And for a sustainable impact, the Caribbean youths shall be in the frontline of this paradigm shift on renewable energy in order to achieve the collective consciousness essential to our resilience. This is the nexus of the collaboration and upcoming educational initiatives between the Caribbean Youth Environment Network and the Solar Head of State.”
Solar Head of State Director James Ellsmoor added, “our model draws attention to renewable energy through highly visible solar installations on public buildings and associated public engagement strategies such as competitions for students and community events. We are looking forward to adding to our youth engagement strategy through our work with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network and encouraging the Caribbean’s youth to participate in the region’s move towards renewable energy.”
Islands across the world are making headlines for ambitious renewable energy projects. Caribbean delegates at COP23 have been able to meet with youth from the Seychelles and Fiji, island nations facing the same climate change risks.
Islands typically have extremely high energy costs due to a lack of economies of scale and expensive fuel imports. On many islands, inefficient diesel generators have traditionally generated electricity. The high cost of diesel is an incentive to innovate new solutions.
With these high prices, renewable energy projects on islands can pay for themselves in as little as three years and free up capital in the long run for other needs. This means that renewable energy is justifiable in most islands on economics alone.
After hurricane’s this year across the Caribbean, youth are keenly aware of the need for resilient and sustainable energy sources. Renewable energy is an inevitability for the Caribbean, and the question is not if, but when.
Caribbean Youth Environment Network delegation to COP23:
- Jamilla Sealy (Barbados)
At 29 years old, Jamilla Sealy is the current Regional Chairperson of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN). She has a Masters of Science in Natural Resources and Environment Management with a climate change focus. Through CYEN, she has become an avid advocate for climate change in her home country Barbados, as well as in the Caribbean region and on the international stage. She has specialised in educating youth and the general public about environmental issues in general. Jamilla has spearheaded the organisation of national consultations for the youth sector and civil society. Additionally, she has done work with the Action/2015 campaign in which climate change is one of the pillars. In 2015, she has also been named as a regional contributor to the GEO-6 report and a Commonwealth Young Achiever, in 2016 she became the UN-MGCY Regional Focal Point for Latin America and the Caribbean for Disaster Risk Reduction and most recently a Queens Young Leader Awardee for 2017. She represents the organisation and the views of Caribbean youth nationally, regionally and internationally, most recently at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancun, Mexico. Lastly, she has been an educator for 5 years teaching Environmental Science, Geography and Science at the secondary school level in Barbados.
- Tarran Simms (Bahamas)
Tarran Simms is a young sustainable tourism professional with over 9 years of experience in the eco-tourism and hospitality sector. Mr. Simms has a BSc in Small Island Sustainability with a focus in Development and Eco-tourism from the College of The Bahamas, and a MSc in International Hospitality and Tourism focus in tourism development from ESCP Europe Madrid campus. Mr. Simms career in sustainable tourism career started in The Bahamas at Small Hope Bay Lodge as the environmental coordinator of the property. During his tenure as environmental officer, he oversaw the re-establishment of the properties creative recycling program, and the implementation of hot water solar for the properties cabins, and hot tub, and solar cooling for the properties walking in freezers. Additionally Mr. Simms has worked for the Bolivian government as a Jr. Tourism Consultant attached to the Ministry of Tourism office of Tarija, Bolivia, and produce a comprehensive sustainable tourism roadmap for the region. Today Tarran is currently working as an assistant project coordinator in The Sustainable Tourism Unit of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. The project is focus on the empowerment of local sport fishing guides, through a sustainable certification program that is being establish by The Bahamas Ministry Tourism & The Inter-American Development Bank. Mr. Simms sits on the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism Board, and is the incoming Assistant Executive Director of Andros Conservancy and Trust which is grass-root organization geared towards environmental education.
- Snaliah Mahal (Saint Lucia)
Snaliah Mahal has previously served as Vice President of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network in Saint Lucia, and is its current National Coordinator. She represents CYEN in Saint Lucia on various boards and committees. She is a dedicated member and is a driver for the growth and development of the organisation. She has a passion for issues of environmental importance and is an avid advocate for youth development. Apart from the work she does with CYEN in Saint Lucia in building awareness of youth on issues of climate change and sustainable development, Snaliah also works as the Fund Assistant of the Saint Lucia National Conservation Fund (SLUNCF) and the start-up social enterprise Jua Kali Ltd, currently undertaking a resource recovery pilot project. She serves as at its Chief Operations Officer. She also owns a micro-business (7Ks) which specialises in upcycled handmade upcycled jewellery and home décor.
- Kerricia Hobson (Grenada)
Kerricia Hobson is currently the National Coordinator of the Grenada Chapter of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network and represents her Chapter on the organisation's Regional Steering Committee as the Treasurer. Since joining CYEN, she has assisted in the coordination of various outreach activities, such as Earth Hour and International Coastal Clean-up, and represented the organisation at meetings and training nationally and regionally, as well as internationally.
Kerricia currently works as a consultant with the Environment Division of the Government of Grenada managing a Coastal Ecosystem-based Adaptation Project that illustrates the crucial role marine and coastal ecosystems can play as part of a national adaptation strategy, and to highlight the potential for partnerships and collaboration among a number of stakeholders in Government, Private Sector and local communities.
- Alexandra Pierre (Haiti)
Alexandra Vanessa Destin PIERRE, form Haiti, has a minor in Architectural Engineering, a major in Water & Environment, M. Sc. and another major in Education for a sustainable development, M. Sc. She is the Coordinator of a climate resilience Project operated by the Directorate of Climate Change within the Ministry of Environment. She is also the National Adaptation Plan and the Caribbean Challenge Initiative focal point of the Ministry. Previously, Alexandra was the First Assistant at a Minister’s Cabinet after being a Consultant at the General Direction of the Ministry of Environment. She was the National Coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (Haiti Chapter), before becoming a senior Advisor and worked as the Outreach Coordinator of Reef Check in Haiti. As a young water professional and a climate activist of Haiti, she collaborated with international institutions such as the International Secretariat of Water, Solidarity Water Europe, UNFPA, UNEP, UNICEF, OAS, UNESCO, Wings for Water, the Dutch government, the organization 350. Given her dynamism, Alexandra received several prizes and awards, for instance: Jean Wiener environmental research scholarship (2014) by the YSL Organization, Young female leader (2015) by YWCA Haiti, Most Outstanding Young Person of Haiti for the environment category (2015) by the Junior Chamber International, Award of excellence (2016) by the CYEN Regional Steering Committee, Promising personality (2017) by the Embassy of France in Haiti.
- Miguel van der Velden (Aruba)
Miguel van der Velden is a 20-year-old born in Suriname and living on the island of Aruba from the age of 5. He joined CYEN as first member for a Dutch Caribbean island and is currently National Coordinator for Aruba. He is studying Sustainability and Journalism at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and hopes to take what he learns back home and apply it to real-world sustainability issues in the region, to help forge a more sustainable and united Caribbean. He is also very interested in Indigenous knowledge and environmental issues as they relate to Indigenous peoples, and is exploring avenues to do research with the Wayuu communities of Colombia and Venezuela in the future.
- Ashfred Norris (Dominica)
Ashfred Norris, an 18 year old from Dominica, is a member of the Dominica Youth Environment Organization and also CYEN, and a representative of the Japan- Caribbean Climate Change Partnership at this year's COY13 and COP23. He attends the Dominica State College where he's a Digital Humanities Research student who is currently employed at an internship at the Create Caribbean Research Institute. In addition he majors in Mass Communication and Entrepreneurship, where he hopes in the future to merge these two distinct areas of study to create a communications organization that focuses on the sensitization of the public, and dissemination of information relating to environmental and climate change matters.
- Adelin Pierre (Haiti)
- Michael Logie (Trinidad & Tobago)