Basseterre, St. Kitts, (SKNIS):
Environmental Education Officer promises to educate citizens on climate change
The Department of Physical Planning and Environment on St. Kitts has pledged to continue the campaign to educate locals about climate change and how it impacts their lives and livelihoods.
The promise was made by the department’s Environmental Education Officer Derionne Edmeade at the conclusion of a two-day Communication Symposium on Climate Change. Edmeade visits schools and engages the media on a regular basis to promote various related topics. He uses practical messages such as the extended dry spell being experienced in St. Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean islands to connect with an audience.
“As you look around the world and you listen to the news, a lot of things right now are geared towards climate change issues … and how we develop in the future and the decisions we have to make now, to mitigate a lot of the problems that we are going to have,” he said.
One adaptation strategy to mitigate the shortage of water is being drilled into residents preparing to build a house or other structure.
“If you look at St. Kitts for example, most of our homes are not developed with room for water conservation features such as cisterns and so forth, if we are to prepare ourselves to climate change, I think that is something that can be implemented from the planning perspective.” Emdeade added.
Communication Essential to get the message across
Edmeade was joined at the June 18-19 symposium by some 50 individuals from across the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The science of climate change was broken down for the media practitioners and public awareness officials so that they in turn can communicate the issues in layman’s terms.
The techniques and presentations were welcomed by Anguilla’s Deputy Director of Strategic Research Programmes in the Department of Environment. Calvin Andre Samuel explained that five years ago awareness about climate change was very high in Anguilla. However, given a challenging global economic climate and reducing budget he admitted that the public’s attention has eroded.
“What the department has been doing is trying to create projects … to really try to speak to livelihoods such as fishing, farming etc,” he revealed. … So we can’t just say ‘hey’ sea level rise, what are you doing? No, sea level rise, there’s going to be increased temperatures, here’s what we are proposing.
“Restore the reefs; begin to look at setbacks for the tourism belt a bit closer so instead of building 100 feet maybe go 150 feet so we can protect those sorts of investments. Do this so that we can protect our livelihoods in order to have a higher quality of life while adapting to the changes that are occurring because of climate.” Anguilla’s Deputy Director of Strategic Research Programmes in the Department of Environment. Calvin Andre Samuel
Use of social media to share message to youth
The Caribbean Youth Environment Network is using social media to share the message with young people. Jamila Sealy is the Regional Chairperson.
“Social media is good to use and once you use it well it can be very effective but we also have to remember that there are persons who do not have access to internet,” she reminded. “… Other than using the social media we actually do outreach programmes. We actually go to schools, talk to children, we do competitions. We also like to be on the ground with people as well.”
The communication symposium was organized by the OECS Commission under its Reducing Risks to Human and Natural Assets Resulting from Climate Change (RRACC) Project. It was held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.