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  • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is inviting teachers and researchers to assist the Ministry with the preparation of appropriate material on climate change for incorporation into the school curriculum.
  • He made the call while addressing the media launch of the Youth Climate Change Conference 2015 on Wednesday, May 6, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
  • Rev. Thwaites had announced earlier this year that the Ministry is sourcing material on climate change and environmental awareness for incorporation in the school curriculum this September.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, is inviting teachers and researchers to assist the Ministry with the preparation of appropriate material on climate change for incorporation into the school curriculum.

He made the call while addressing the media launch of the Youth Climate Change Conference 2015 on Wednesday, May 6, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

Rev. Thwaites had announced earlier this year that the Ministry is sourcing material on climate change and environmental awareness for incorporation in the school curriculum this September.

In his address at the conference launch, he said the idea is not to have climate change as a subject, but to “infuse the principles of that into every subject – into math, into English, into languages, into vocational and technical subjects.”

He noted that the inclusion of information on climate change should start at the early childhood level and “must be practical stuff, related to the exigencies of life that you face.”

Minister Thwaites welcomed the conference, being hosted by Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) project, which he said “is of great significance in pointing the way for the future (response to climate change).”

In her remarks, Chief of Party, JaREEACH, Karyll Aitcheson, said through the conference, focus is being placed on the youth, who “will have to confront and respond to the major impacts of climate change in the near and distant future.”

She noted that by participating in the conference, young people also have the potential to bring new solutions and reach their parents and their peers with key messages about best practices and innovations.

“We are excited about the opportunity that the Youth Climate Change Conference offers in the country’s proactive efforts to take action against climate change – a formidable adversary to progress and development,” she said.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding the JaREEACH project, and the agency’s Deputy Mission Director, Jeanette Vail, informed that the conference is part of the USAID’s global efforts to build resilience to climate change.

“In Jamaica, through JaREEACH and the efforts of Agricultural Cooperative Development International (ACDI)/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA), we are raising awareness and building climate change champions in order to help vulnerable communities take action to protect their lives and the community,” she said.

Meanwhile, Senior Director, Youth and Adolescents, Ministry of Youth and Culture, Michelle Small-Bartley, expressed the hope that in addition to youth in school, the conference will also seek to engage unattached youth towards raising awareness of climate change issues.

“We further anticipate that through this and other activities, our youth will be empowered to take adaptive and mitigating actions while fully participating in the decision-making process in the development of climate change policies,” she said.

This is the second Youth Climate Change Conference being staged by the JaREEACH Project. The conference, which falls under the project’s Youth Empowerment programme, will be held on September 25, 2015.

This year’s conference seeks to stimulate interest and dialogue among youth on climate change and its impacts on Jamaica’s key social and economic sectors.

Specifically, the aim is to improve the understanding of climate change as an important development challenge while inspiring action within schools and communities islandwide in response to the current and expected impacts of climate change.

A key outcome of the conference is the creation of Jamaica’s first climate change action framework for schools, which is intended to streamline climate change issues within schools. It is a call to action for young persons, as to how they will address the issue of climate change.

This year’s conference theme: “Our Changing Climate: Trusting Youth to Act for a Better Tomorrow,” and was selected following an online competition.

Deontae Robinson of Knox Community College in Manchester, who conceptualised the theme, was awarded $35,000 to set up a water harvesting and storage system for the college.

The JaREEACH project is a three-year initiative funded by the USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA. Through a range of interventions, JaREEACH works with the Government, civil society and farmers to increase awareness and application of practical actions that help Jamaicans to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.