Three-day Youth Climate Forum launched in Lethem

- youths encouraged to utilize platform & share concerns and priorities for action


Furthering efforts to provide young people with the opportunity to learn about climate change, build their skills to take climate action, and participate in decision-making processes, the South Rupununi Conservation Society (SRCS), in partnership with the Regional Democratic Council of Region Nine and with support from UNICEF Guyana and the Inter-American Development Bank on Tuesday launched a three-day Youth Climate Forum for young people from across the region.

More than 60 young people are participating in the three-day event at the Industrial site, Lethem, Region 9. The event will see learning sessions, roundtable discussions led by youth, and engagements with local stakeholders and decision makers.

Information booths will also highlight opportunities for young people in the region. The forum also expects to see the creation of an action plan by the young people that advocates for their involvement in policy processes, highlight climate change issues affecting their communities and identify resources needed to take climate action and build resilience.

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Honorable Sonia Parag giving remarks at the opening of the Youth Forum in region nine.

President of the SRCS, Leroy Ignacio explained that the community organization decided to host the forum due to the many impacts of climate change in the region. “We thought that engaging with the youths was one of the more effective ways to make behaviour change within our society.”

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Honorable Sonia Parag attended the opening and emphasized the importance of forums like these with youth at the forefront in tackling climate change. “Sixteen percent of the world’s population are youths and what you are doing here is a small fraction of what the world needs. But the more you do it is the more you can assist your country,” she said.

UNICEF Guyana is providing financial and technical support for the event and emphasizing that young people have a huge role to play in combatting climate change, Ms. Jewell Crosse, Adolescent and Youth Development Officer, said she is pleased to see the huge turnout of young people at the forum.

She said, “At UNICEF, we are committed to helping young people take action to protect their future and we do this by raising youth voices on the climate crisis and by increasing youth participation to address climate change, especially in vulnerable communities.”

Crosse encouraged the youths to utilize the forum and engage with the government agencies and share their concerns and priorities for action.

“Guyana has shown great leadership on climate change as the Government has signed the Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action at our World Children’s Day observance last year. UNICEF is extremely pleased that as we continue to work with young people to tackle the climate crisis, that we have the Government of Guyana’s commitment to not only ensuring a bright future for children in Guyana, but for also ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are addressed,” Crosse said.

The opening of the forum saw an outpouring of support from several government agencies with booths from the ministries of Education, Health, Agriculture, Amerindian Affairs, Youth, Culture and Sports, Natural Resources, the National Insurance Scheme, The Guyana Revenue Authority and National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), among others.

Ms. Jewell Crosse, Adolescent and Youth Development Officer at UNICEF Guyana and Suriname giving remarks at the opening of the Youth Forum in region nine

The forum comes at a time when the region is feeling the effects of climate change with prolonged dry periods, likely intensified due to climate change, resulting in huge wildfires in the Rupununi region.

UNICEF’s Climate Landscape Analysis for Children (CLAC) in Guyana has identified regions one and nine as being the most severely affected by climate change. The population of these regions comprises mainly Indigenous people, who, to a great extent, depend on natural resources and other ecosystem services of their environment for their sustenance. This makes them very vulnerable to climate change, due to several factors that increase sensitivity and exposure, including dependence on ecosystem services and agriculture, and isolation from main infrastructure and transportation networks.

Recognising that children and young people are the single most affected group by the climate threat, and the need to support youth in vulnerable communities that are at the forefront of the climate crisis to take climate action, SRCS, with support from UNICEF Guyana, initiated the Young Climate Change Leaders Programme in Region nine.

In 2022, over 200 Indigenous youth benefitted from education and awareness of climate change, and a smaller group was trained in proposal writing to support them in securing resources to implement locally developed climate solutions.

President of the South Rupununi Conservation Society, Leroy Ignacio giving remarks at the opening of the Youth Forum in region nine.
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