I confess, I have been preoccupied by family matters and rather low key. This World Environment Day I found it hard to focus; the issues are crowding in. In particular, climate change weighs heavily. I looked up the hashtag on Twitter, finding more and more semi-hopeful messages, “we’re doing something” videos, and “let’s do something!” urgings. I feel a headache coming on.
Our Minister with responsibility for the environment, Senator Matthew Samuda, attended the Stockholm Plus 50 conference – plenty of speeches, hand-shaking, and photo ops, no doubt – and probably a few more promises, too. Two of the recommendations coming out of the conference struck me: Rebuild relationships of trust for strengthened cooperation and solidarity and Recognize intergenerational responsibility as a cornerstone of sound policy-making. There needs to be that collective will and effort, and it needs to build, collaboratively, across generations, supporting each other.
At home, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has decided to focus on the newly declared Black River Protected Area, a Ramsar site and Wetland of International Importance, for their National Environment Week. Here is a nice infographic they produced on the Black River Lower Morass.
Warmest appreciation to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Jamaica for producing a television special for the day, which aired on TVJ this afternoon. The programme looked back at the great work – and the enthusiasm and sheer creativity – embedded in the Voices for Climate Change programme, supported by Panos Caribbean. As I have noted many times, the arts have always been a powerful vehicle for advocacy on environmental issues. Think about it – there is so much inspiration all around for powerful songs. Jamaican reggae singer Aaron Silk’s “One Point Five to Stay Alive” brought the huge and historic UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 to not only sing along, but to “draw the line” on global warming, so to speak. It was hugely influential and One Point Five became a Caribbean, and a global movement.
The charismatic Silk, several other deejays and singers, and a somewhat austere woman dub poet (whom I adored), collaborated on the project, and I was honoured to share a part of their tour around the island with activist Indi Mclymont-Lafayette and filmmaker Esther Figueroa. The memories are rich; and you can find several of my articles on our adventures on this blog or at my former Jamaica Gleaner blog page, “Social Impact with Emma.” Here’s a happy video that captures that experience in 2019, inspiring communities across Jamaica to build resilience to climate change. Thank you, Voices for Climate Change.
And there’s not only music, but art itself. An exhibition is opening soon on Jamaican artists’ response to climate change and environmental challenges, at the University of the West Indies. Mark your calendars!
There is hope, and people are really making some great efforts. When I learn about the heartfelt, earnest work being done by humans who still seem to care about Mother Earth (yes, that is what I call her), here in Jamaica and round the world – whether it’s clean-ups, tree planting, meeting, protesting – I cheer up, quite a bit. For example…
Next Saturday, a great collaboration between an overseas-based church and the Caribbean Tree Planting Project (CTPP) will be launched at a church in Kingston. More details shortly, but save the date and why don’t you go along? (Whether you are a Christian or not!)
Then I recently spoke to some youngsters about their work at the “Green Generation” school club. Like so many other Jamaicans (and this came out from communities visited by Voices for Climate Change, years ago) they are deeply concerned about solid waste management, and plastics. They were not quite as optimistic as I had hoped about our planet’s future – but that didn’t mean they were going to give up, any time soon. Keep going, Green Generation!
Elsewhere, I read my friend in Ecuador’s beautiful post for the day, filled with photographs of trees, birds, and people. As always, it lit a spark.
Eco Conscious Citizens of Ghana shared an article about the horrors of illegal mining:
The destruction of our environment and poisoning of our waters, a direct consequence of illegal mining, is high on the agenda once again. Our lands are polluted, and our rivers are dark brown, probably poisoned with mercury and other contaminants.
Dr. Jane Goodall’s message, delivered in her soft, yet firm voice, was hard-hitting. She faced up to tough issues – deforestation, poverty, factory farming, indigenous defenders of the Earth, war, and inequality – without flinching, and then offered us slivers of hope, beautifully served. She has convinced me now that a plant-based diet is in my future. Please, do watch her ten-minute message. So powerful.
“Change is in the air,” says Dr. Jane Goodall. I truly hope so. It just needs to happen faster, for me.
I am impatient.