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Regional campaign to engage CARIFORUM youth launched

GeneralRegional campaign to engage CARIFORUM youth launched

Photo: John Bodden

The Better Climate for My Health Campaign will run for 6 months. It is aimed at amplifying the voice of the Caribbean youth in the global movement for climate justice 

by Marco Lopez

BELMOPAN, Thurs. Jan. 26, 2023

The voices of youth from the 16 CARIFORUM countries—nations all on the frontlines of accelerated climate change—are being called to action through a new campaign launched today by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) called the Better Climate For My Health.

Six months of activities supported under the EU CARIForum Climate Change and Health Project (2020-2025) will be aimed at strengthening the management of the impact of the climate on health among CARIFORUM countries. This program will focus on an information campaign to bring youths of the region, up to speed on the global conversation. Those citizens from the region who are in the 9-30 age group will have a chance to have their voices heard and contribute what they can to the global movement for climate justice.  

Youth in the region will have the opportunity to highlight how climate change is affecting them and their communities, what they think could be a good approach to solving issues, and how to make their leaders more aware of their voices in the conversation. Some of the activities will include art, poetry, and photo competitions, a youth mixer, and opportunities to write letters to leaders in the region. These activities will run until June of this year under the hashtags #betterclimate4myhealth and #climatehealthaction.

Keith Nichols, the Head of the Project Development and Management Unit at the 5 C’s, said that climate change is already affecting half of humanity and has been named the biggest threat to humanity by the World Health Organization.

“… The industrial world today is the architect of that future of our actions today, leaving the enormous and daunting task of resolving the problems that we create collectively for the youth who inherited the future. Because the future is yours. You have a role to play in helping to shape that future,” Nichols said.

He admitted that the persons who currently hold positions of power in the climate change discussion are not doing a good job in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curbing the impacts of climate change, and said to the youth in attendance, “it is voices like yours that will become effective in helping to influence the transformations we need to seek.”

Air pollution, water safety, and security, and increases in vector-borne diseases are some of the ways the climate crisis will likely affect national health if measures are not taken to curb the impacts. The increase in hurricanes, heat waves, and droughts have already been recorded in Belize and across the region. These weather phenomena are made stronger by human-caused climate change and pose threats to our health. For example, it could impact domestic food security if agricultural production decreases.

A significant impact is also the psychological effect: the anxiety of worrying about the climate crisis, which could lead to mental health issues. Cases involving heat wave victims have become more frequent and are seen more commonly in elderly citizens.

John Bodden, Public Health Inspector from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, said, “It’s not the type of heat that we use to have before that we are experiencing now, but severe heat that actually takes people to the hospital.” Flooding in the lowland areas impacts people living in those communities; an increase in sea level rise will mean more families will have to migrate to higher ground, Bodden said.

Bodden believes that including the voice of the youth in the conversation will be a great benefit. “I think for some time now, we have abandoned our youth, saying that they cannot provide any meaningful action for change, and we know that is not true,” he said.

The project will be spearheaded by the 5C’s and supported by PAHO, WHO, and the EU CariForum Climate Change and Health Project.

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