Nurturing future guardians of the environment
At a time when the climate is front and centre on the global stage, the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute will host the island’s first Youth Climate Summit for students ages 13 to 22. With a focus on conservation, sustainability and climate justice, the summit provides the ideal opportunity to showcase the crucial work already being done to safeguard Bermuda’s present and future environmental landscape.
During the summit, local environmental non-governmental organisations will share what they do in Bermuda and why, engaging directly with this young audience. Their presentations will enable summit participants to identify potential resources and collaboration opportunities, and to use the information to inform their own action plans.
One participating NGO, Greenrock, has much to share. As the home of a plethora of environmental initiatives including Earth Hour, the Bermuda Better Energy Plan, and its own Youth Council, the organisation is fully aligned with the aims of the Youth Climate Summit.
“Climate change really does underpin many of the issues that are happening worldwide,” said Christina Collis, a Greenrock council member. “I personally would like to see a feeling of hopefulness come out of this initiative, that people care and that steps are being taken to rectify the situation.”
Waterstart, whose mission is to promote environmental awareness and personal growth through hands-on educational opportunities in natural environments, is another participating NGO. Dubbing the summit as a critical event, the organisation is elated that BUEI has taken the initiative to elevate the topic among Bermuda’s young people. "Waterstart is thrilled to be involved with the Youth Climate Summit and can't wait for the chance to engage with the youth of Bermuda to work towards a more sustainable and ecologically protected future,” says Phoebe Barboza, Research and Operations Manager at Waterstart.
With its many initiatives based off Burt Island, such as the Seagrass Restoration Project, Waterstart has made great strides delivering on its mission. They believe that the Youth Climate Summit is the next step towards a united ecological overhaul regarding our existing way of life. “Every member of our community is so crucial for these discussions,” says Phoebe. “To truly change our local perspectives and attitudes towards the challenges we face requires multiple generations and NGOs to come together.”
Also present at the summit will be the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. BOPP, a partnership between the Government of Bermuda, the Waitt Institute, and Bios, was created to foster the sustainable, profitable and enjoyable use of ocean resources for present and future generations.
“The Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme is excited to be able to participate in the inaugural Youth Climate Summit at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute,” said Cheryl-Ann Mapp, the Site Co-ordinator for BOPP. “We want young people to see that while they are living the realities of climate change, they can work together to champion the solutions.”
With the enthusiastic support of multiple NGOs, the Youth Climate Summit seeks to become the official yearly congregation for young environmentalists ready to not only share ideas but take immediate and long-lasting action. “I want the youth to know that the adults are behind them 100%, that we’re here and we care,” says Greenrock’s Christina Collis.
Bermuda’s inaugural Youth Climate Summit takes place from November 22 to 27. The weeklong event prepares and empowers students to address climate on a local level and is the foundation for a year of youth-led sustainability, conservation and climate justice initiatives. If you would like to play a part in setting the stage for youth climate action, or for more information, visit www.YCSBda.com.
• Karla Lacey is the chief executive of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. Established by a Private Act of the Bermuda Parliament in 1992 and officially opened in July 1997, BUEI is a registered non-profit and does not receive any government funding. The organisation relies on the continued financial support of the community to deliver impactful, high-quality educational programmes including the Eco-Schools Bermuda programme, and events such as the Youth Climate Summit