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We need young Black men to be interested in environment: BUEI

Karla Lacey, the chief executive of BUEI (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Sustaining the interest of young Black men interested in the environment is the next goal of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, the head of the charity said.

Karla Lacey, the chief executive officer of BUEI, said that the institute wanted to get a more diverse group of people — particularly younger people — invested in climate protection.

But she added that it was difficult to keep young Black boys and men interested because they would be made fun of.

Ms Lacey said: “We notice that young men come to the youth Climate Summit and they’re fully engaged, but they hesitate to be involved in an ongoing basis.

“We were told by young women that it was because they get teased.”

She added: “They think that these are issues that are not what young boys and men should be concerned with.

“They think they should be more concerned with making money and football, sports and all the rest — but getting involved in the environment is not something that young Black Bermudian males should be doing.”

Ms Lacey said that she hoped to bring in more men of colour to speak at programmes such as the Youth Climate Summit, an environmental activism programme that will have its second sitting this month.

She was speaking as BUEI celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Ms Lacey, who joined the institute as its CEO last year, said that she always had a link to the institute since its inception, even bringing her children to its first opening in 1997.

She told The Royal Gazette that her biggest goal was to keep young people engaged and concerned about the environment.

Ms Lacey said: “Representation is so important for young people today. If they can’t see themselves in it, they don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

Ms Lacey said that she wanted to make sure youngsters had a reason to care about climate change and had the solutions and positive motivation to save the planet from catastrophe.

This engagement, she added, manifested itself in programmes such as their eight-episode docuseries Island SOS, which looks at strategies for ocean sustainability.

The History of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute

The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute was first imagined by a group of Bermudians in 1990, who wanted to create a museum to educate the island about marine science and history.

They officially started the project in April 1992 and formed a North American organisation, Friends of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, to raise and manage funds in January the following year.

Excavation started on the East Broadway site in November 1995 until it officially opened with the help of Thorold Masefield, the Governor of Bermuda at the time, in July 1997.

Two time capsules were buried that same month and were both scheduled to be opened in 2022.

One time capsule, made for donors and schoolchildren, was opened this July and contained a BUEI brochure, a Teddy Tucker map, a May 1997 edition of The Royal Gazette and letters from donors, community supporters and students.

BUEI saw the second phase of its exhibits opening in spring at the turn of the century, with other exhibits, such as the Teddy Tucker Shipwreck Gallery and Jellies exhibit, opening throughout the following decade.

The facility’s iconic giant squid was also installed in spring of 2003.

BUEI started its first scholarship, the Teddy Tucker Marine Education Scholarship, in 2002 to further its goal of expanding marine education.

By May 2013, the facility received its Bermuda National Standards Committee (BNSC) accreditation.

Ms Lacey said that, on top of young people, she wanted to get people from different ethnic and class backgrounds invested in environmental action.

She explained: “My goal was to help form a sense of community around living on an island that reflects wherever we may have come from.

“We’ve got people from the Azores, the Philippines, the Isle of Man and the UK — we have a very diverse community.

“Part of the goal was to let people know that you’re here in Bermuda and we have issues that we’re trying to solve, they connect with your home country and we’re all in this together.”

Ms Lacey said that Bermuda was in a unique position as a country in that it was vulnerable to climate change but had a platform among richer countries to make a difference.

She said that tropical countries were most likely to suffer the effects of climate change, despite contributing the least to the problem.

But she added that, since Bermuda had access to many global insurance companies, it was up to us to lobby them into demanding safe practices from their partners.

Ms Lacey said: “We have a very large industry in the reinsurance sector that determines, by nature of their business, what a viable business model is for industries who impact the climate.

“They all need some sort of insurance, and we here, with the sector that we have, can have policies put in place that help change the trajectory of those businesses and how they impact the environment.

“All these businesses that have an impact on the environment have insurance to cover their assets, and if you know you can’t cover your assets then you’re going to think twice about the type of business you do.”

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Published November 09, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated November 09, 2022 at 7:50 am)

We need young Black men to be interested in environment: BUEI

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