Dominique Noralez, second from left. Belizean Delegate sponsored by UNDP J-CCCP

It has been a little over a week since the historical meeting of global youth convened at the United Nations Headquarters. The only agenda item, Climate Action. It was indeed an amazing summit of ideas and solutions. A space where young people can empathize with each other’s environmental plight, strategize on solutions and hold duty bearers at the highest levels accountable for actions that have led us into a climate crisis, an existential one at that.

I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Caribbean delegation of youth leaders to take on the meeting in New York City sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership. Of course, being a young Belizean this was indeed a privilege to attend to showcase the work Belize has been putting in to ensure environmental integrity ranging from our banning of offshore oil exploration, our barrier reef system being taken off UNESCO’s world heritage site endangered list, our move toward phasing out and banning of single use plastics. I felt it important to highlight the work of agencies like the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grant Program in Belize but also that of youth led community organizations such as Save the Seas Belize. My country is the definition of Latin America and the Caribbean because of culture and geography and so the threats of climate change become ever real with man-made issues such as the poisoning of the New and Macal Rivers but also those issues that we don’t control such as our current drought that puts a huge dent into our agricultural and therefore economic pillars with numbers estimated to be at 50 million Belize Dollars!

The UN HQ meetings were a surreal experience. It was something I always wanted to experience and I am grateful for it. Getting to hear youth activists like Greta Thunberg speak with such passion and unequivocal force was empowering and energizing. Listening to other young people learn and share ideas across the sessions was awe inspiring and made me realize how deep our connections are and how similar our experiences are across borders and regions. My greatest take away from these meetings are always the people I meet, the stories that are shared, the camaraderie that is built with fellow countrymen and global citizens alike. I believe these takeaways are fundamental to transformational change; this idea of a shared humanity and knowing that we are all in this together.

For the Caribbean delegation, I know our work continues in our respective organizations but also in the continued formalization of the Youth Climate Change Activists. My work continues with the GEF SGP Belize and Save the Seas Belize that is rooted in educating, appreciating and protecting our home from landscape to seascape. Finally, our mighty coordinated effort as earthlings continues, each of us picking up a bucket to help quell the fires of our burning house, our home to which we owe our lives.

 

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