Plans to educate youth about renewable energy across the region
During this year COP23 climate conference, the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) and Solar Head of State (SHOS) launched a partnership to promote education on renewable energy across the Caribbean region.
The CYEN is a non-profit, civil society, charitable body that focuses its resources on empowering young people and their communities to develop actions to address socio-economic and environmental issues. The CYEN programme aims at addressing issues such as poverty alleviation and youth employment, health and HIV/AIDS, climatic changes and global warming, impact of natural disasters/hazards, improvement in potable water, conservation and waste management and other natural resource management issues.
For this year’s COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany, the CYEN delegation includes youth from Haiti, Barbados, Aruba, Grenada, Dominica, Trinidad & Tobago, St Lucia and the Bahamas. See the appendix for biographical information on each of the young people attending this year.
Solar Head of State is a non-profit organization that works in small island developing states to promote access to renewable energy. The organization last year partnered with the Government of Saint Lucia to install panels on the island’s Government House. Through a partnership with the Government of Jamaica, SHOS will install solar panels on Jamaica House, the Office of the Prime Minister.
The installation of panels on the national Leader’s official residence is symbolic of the wider leadership on renewable energy by SIDS, and serves a physical embodiment of Caribbean politician’s commitment to fighting climate change and using renewable energy.
CYEN and SHOS organizations will work together to run competitions and educational programs about renewable energy across CYEN’s 800 member countries and 20 islands in the Wider Caribbean.
CYEN Delegation leader Alexandra Vanessa Destin Pierre said, “if the Small Island Developing States are worldwide known for their limited resources, there is one natural resource and source of energy which is practically unlimited and free all year long for all of our inhabitants: it is our sun. The COP23, Chaired for the first time by a SIDS country, is the ideal Conference for that wake-up call on the urgency to promote renewable energy within the Caribbean region. And for a sustainable impact, the Caribbean youths shall be in the frontline of this paradigm shift on renewable energy in order to achieve the collective consciousness essential to our resilience. This is the nexus of the collaboration and upcoming educational initiatives between the Caribbean Youth Environment Network and the Solar Head of State”
Solar Head of State Director James Ellsmoor added, “our model draws attention to renewable energy through highly visible solar installations on public buildings and associated public engagement strategies such as competitions for students and community events. We are looking forward to adding to our youth engagement strategy through our work with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network and encouraging the Caribbean’s youth to participate in the region’s move towards renewable energy.”
Islands across the world are making headlines for ambitious renewable energy projects. Caribbean delegates at COP23 have been able to meet with youth from the Seychelles and Fiji, island nations facing the same climate change risks.
Islands typically have extremely high energy costs due to a lack of economies of scale and expensive fuel imports. On many islands, inefficient diesel generators have traditionally generated electricity. The high cost of diesel is an incentive to innovate new solutions.
With these high prices, renewable energy projects on islands can pay for themselves in as little as three years and free up capital in the long run for other needs. This means that renewable energy is justifiable in most islands on economics alone.
After hurricane’s this year across the Caribbean, youth are keenly aware of the need for resilient and sustainable energy sources. Renewable energy is an inevitability for the Caribbean, and the question is not if, but when.