Caribbean Youth at the OAS Summit: Did our leaders get the message?
Thanks to all of you who sent messages to the 34 heads of state assembled at the 5th Summit of the Americas urging them to make climate change a primary focus. With the economic crisis looming, climate change could have been left out of the discussion if we didn't raise our voices - with just myself (Kelly), Mariama, and the leaders of CYEN Trinidad and Tobago present at the Summit, it was enormously helpful to know there were hundreds of supporters around the region standing with us. It was a tiring, but exciting week what with high security, traffic snarls, and long, long days. We've done our best to ensure that all of our voices were heard loud and clear, and are excited to share the results with you.
We put out our call to action just a week ago, and in just a few days we received an outpouring of hundreds of messages from over 15 different countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean detailing the important work being doing locally on climate change, how climate change is impacting our lives already, and why our leaders need to take urgent action to put our planet back on track to 350ppm. Messages were sent in photo, video, and written form - here is a sample of them: http://www.350.org/oascampaign
And some photos from the week:
Through a press conference at the Summit and an event with many concerned students, we delivered the messages to the media, and to the leaders assembled in Trinidad. We created a big banner and message board to display the overall call to action: "OAS: Action Now on Climate Change - It's our Future!", as well as the compelling, personal messages. The press conference was syndicated in 34 territories in the Caribbean, and we passed on the call through several radio interviews aired in Trinidad, St. Lucia, and other parts of the Caribbean.
With CYEN's Trinidad and Tobago chapter, we worked with students at the University of the West Indies to deliver the messages at an event held last Thursday. Check out these articles for more information on the event:
- Caribbean Youth Deliver Hundreds of Messages From Around the Region Calling for Heads of State at the OAS Summit to Focus on Climate Change: http://www.pnuma.org/informacion/noticias/2009-04/16/index.htm?fecha=
- UWI Students Fight Climate Change: http://www.newsday.co.tt/features/0,98761.html
As the Summit comes to a close, it's clear that climate change has indeed been a top priority. Heads of state from Belize, Barbados, Guyana, and the energy secretary of the United States, all made strong statements that taking urgent action this year, and forging a deal in Copenhagen is absolutely necessary in the face of accelerating climate change impacts.
While the issue is in the forefront of world leaders' minds, it's not time to declare victory just yet. We are still far from the concrete commitments needed from the big emitters of the hemisphere (the United States and Canada), and from all governments to reduce their own emissions and to agree to work together to get on track to 350ppm. That's why it's crucial this year to take action in our communities to ensure our governments know that we are watching, and that we will hold them accountable this year in Copenhagen, and beyond. Join or start an action in your community for the 350 international day of climate action on October 24th and keep the pressure on! http://www.350.org/oct24