Mya Symister reflects on ‘inspirational’ COP28 conference

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By Robert A. Emmanuel

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“Inspirational and insightful, collaborative, educational, transformative, powerful, thought-provoking, full of multicultural experiences.”

That was the initial reaction of young Antiguan Mya Symister who was one of the many Antiguans and Barbudans and other Caribbean youth who travelled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for the UN annual climate conference.

From November 30 to December 12, the conference brought together policymakers from numerous countries to collectively address the climate crisis.

However, outside of tense negotiations over words such as “phasing out” fossil fuels or “transitioning away” from fossil fuels, there were numerous discussions by climate activists and members of the public which Symister took part in.

“It was definitely an experience. I’m very grateful to have spoken on panels with youth advocates to engage in an inter-generational conversation, being able to share my ideas as a young person and collaborate with the older generation so that we can develop creative responses to the climate crisis,” she stated.

Symister, daughter of attorney-at-law Leon Chaku Symister, said her schedule for the multi-day conference was focussed on climate justice, ocean protection, and loss and damage where one of the panel discussions she took part in focussed on the youth perspective on climate justice.

“We shared, basically, perspectives from around the region and we left there agreeing that there definitely needs to be more into regional collaboration, like how come we are all from the same region, but it took us going to Dubai to finally meet and have these discussions.

“Also regarding the inter-regional dialogue, I was on a panel with persons from the Pacific Islands, where we also acknowledged that we need to do more because these Pacific Islands had such a strong presence at COP, you know, they came as one group, unified and just achieved greater impact together so that’s some of the reflections from the panel discussion,” she explained.

Apart from the policy discussions, Symister attended various events including a sustainability fashion show, where designers and brands committed to sustainability and climate change teamed up to showcase wearable and accessible creations.

“One of the designers had reused some materials, but there was just one designer like, I think she used towels or a carpet material.

“I guess the next steps for me is that I would really like to do more … I would really like to [maybe] create a mini-series, perhaps on radio with my dad, just educating the public on what the climate crisis is, as well as empowering everyone with ideas on what they can do to fight for climate justice.

“We in the Caribbean have to join in because I’m very certain that, in the near future, everyone would be a climate advocate because we in the region are very much affected,” she said.

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