Panos Caribbean Concludes 2019 Voices for Climate Change Education Community-based Campaign


I spent some time this year with a vibrant group of singers, songwriters and community members. They are this year’s Voices for Climate Change. I have written about my experiences in several blog posts. Here is one I wrote for Global Voices.

The fairly ambitious project in four rural communities was a learning process for all of us; it’s fair to say that we all learned from each other about climate change and its impact, right there on the ground. Now the project is complete, and I do hope it will be sustained – so I am happy to hear singer Anthony Cruz that it “doesn’t stop here.” There is much potential for this to grow into a movement and really catch on – and such great enthusiasm among the participants.  Kudos and thanks to all those who organized and funded this project. It could well be a great model for similar initiatives in the Caribbean and beyond. Here is Panos Caribbean’s press release:

Panos Caribbean concludes 2019 Voices for Climate Change Education Community-based Campaign after a successful eight-month run 

[Kingston, Jamaica. 25 October 2019] Panos Caribbean is bringing to a close its successful 2019 Voices for Climate Change Education community awareness campaign. The campaign was rolled out in four communities across Jamaica: Rocky Point and Lionel Town in Clarendon; Ridge Red Bank in St Elizabeth; and White River, St. Ann. The 2019 campaign was implemented as part of the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project (ICDIMP) under the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR), which is supported by the World Bank and the Climate Investment Funds. A stakeholder assessment workshop on Tuesday, 29 October 2019 will give performing artists and community members who were part of the campaign an opportunity to evaluate impact and identify future community climate actions.

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Anthony Cruz performs in Lionel Town, June 2019. Credit: Sara-K Webley

Voices for Climate Change Education harnesses the power of popular music and culture and the influence of performing artists to increase awareness of climate change and encourage positive action by audiences in schools and communities. Under the 2019 campaign, Panos Caribbean partnered with each target community to identify specific climate change issues and adaptation needs while mobilising local and national artistic talent to do outreach activities to bring awareness to the issues.

Twenty performing artists were trained as musical ambassadors, including twelve who are based in the target communities in Clarendon, St. Elizabeth and St. Ann. These musical ambassadors performed at six school and community climate change-themed concerts that reached more than 2,000 people across the four target communities. As part of the campaign, the artists also went into the schools to plant trees with the students and read for them on Read Across Jamaica Day 2019.

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Voices for Climate Change Education Artists Anthony Cruz and Donn Gass Plant Trees with students at Bustamante High School. Credit: ProCut Multimedia

The 2019 Voices for Climate Change Education Campaign also encouraged students to creatively reflect on climate change and its impacts through a short story competition. Winners of the senior student competition at Bustamante High School, Lionel Town Clarendon will be announced at the workshop closing ceremony on 29 October. In addition to the school and community-based activities, the 2019 Voices for Climate Change Education campaign featured pithy call to action videos, produced by environmental activist filmmaker Esther Figueroa, that encourage climate-friendly behaviours in homes and communities.

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Voices for Climate Change Education artist Deondra Riley reads to students at Watsonton Primary School, Lionel Town on Read Across Jamaica Day. Credit: Shanice Ebanks

“The Planning Institute of Jamaica has been pleased to partner with Panos Caribbean on the 2019 Voices for Climate Change Education Campaign,” said Lehome Johnson, Project Manager of Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project. “We’ve seen tremendous creativity and energy in the climate change messaging that has come out of the campaign, including a number of original songs, and we’ve seen where the project has had an influence on the discourse in some of the target communities,” he added.

“Jamaica’s climate resilience requires action on all fronts and the country is steadily building its capacity to do so,” said Nicole Brown, a member of the Panos Caribbean Board of Directors. “The recent launch of our first Country Programme for engagement with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) points to increased funding and activity on climate resilience as we go forward. Panos Caribbean’s community awareness and behaviour change work is an important complement to the policy and technical work that is being done by the government and other partners,” she added. “We look forward to more partnerships for community awareness-building, like the one with PIOJ,” she said.

“It doesn’t stop here,” said recording artist Anthony Cruz, who is one of the 2019 Voices for Climate Change Ambassadors. “It’s a world thing,” he continued. “As entertainers, we travel the world, now I can use my voice to educate people about climate change, not just in Jamaica, but all over the world. Wherever we go, we just bring it with us.” 

About Voices for Climate Change Education (VCCE): VCCE uses popular music and culture to educate audiences about climate change and promote climate change adaptation at the household and community levels. Performing artists are trained as climate change ambassadors and they spread the message in song. This edutainment initiative began in 2008 and was recognised by the United Nations as a Communications Best Practice for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2011. Panos Caribbean is a regional development communication non-governmental organization that enables the people of the Caribbean to conceive, drive and communicate their own development agendas. Please see http://panoscaribbean.org/en 

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Voices for Climate Change Education artists in performance. Credit: Sara-K Webley

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