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Story and photos by Carlena Knight

The environment minister has challenged the general public to “ride the climate wave” – and more so the youth of Antigua and Barbuda to keep the fight alive to save the environment.

Sir Molwyn Joseph made the call during the opening ceremony to mark the launch of Arbor Month 2020, and the Plant a Tree Campaign, which was held at the Department of Environment (DoE) yesterday.

Antigua and Barbuda celebrates Arbor Month with a string of activities in November each year, but due to the pandemic, some activities have been scaled down or taken online.

Environment Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph (left) and Daryl Spencer, of CariSun renewable energy (Photos by Carlena Knight)

This year’s activities include an art competition on November 9; a live talk on the ministry’s Facebook page on November 12; a student agriculture workshop on November 19, while on Arbor Day itself, November 26, a variety of plants, to include fruit trees, will be distributed to the public.

Through discussions and initiatives, the DoE also intends to place great focus on sensitising and educating the public about the effects of climate change in the country, under the theme “Riding the Climate Wave: Planning and Adaptation for the Future Generation”.

Sir Molwyn believes that despite the disadvantages caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be used as a motivation for this cause.

“It is time for us here in Antigua and Barbuda to ride the climate wave by ensuring that there is planning and adaptation by future generations. One of the things I want to do is to motivate you this morning to continue the hard work and don’t ever doubt yourself,” he said.

“You know Shakespeare once said ‘our doubts are like traitors, they make us lose what we ought to achieve by failing to attempt’, and my experience has taught me this: if you have an idea, if you are motivated, if you have a voice inside you that is saying launch this, listen to them, don’t deny this.

“Notwithstanding the fact that we are in living in some difficult situations we can still demonstrate to the world as they say that you can chew, eat gum and walk at the same time,” the minister said.

“Covid should not be an obstacle; Covid should not be a distraction; Covid should be a motivation for you to say yes, it is stormy, it is difficult, it is psychologically dampening, but let’s show the people of Antigua and Barbuda that you are able to organise and distribute and plant over 10,000 trees.”

Sir Molwyn also expounded on the importance of Arbor Month as it boosts food security. He said planting as many trees as possible will also help the economy by reducing the need for imports.

“We must get food security in Antigua and Barbuda. We cannot continue the practice of relying on importing what we eat, that if the container for Epicurean does not reach on time that there is scarcity. Each of us as young people can start the process. Like an evangelist spreading the message all over the world, let us plan for our own health security,” Joseph suggested.

The event also saw the unveiling of solar PV panels which will be used to power some of the DoE’s buildings.

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