By Makeida Antonio
A top international official has challenged young people to give much consideration to entering the political front.
The President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Maria Fernanda Espinosa said that this would ensure that their voices are included in policies on issues affecting their lives.
“I’m a true believer that young people have to be actors and active participants in decision making, in society in general. Climate change is, as I mentioned, an existential crisis that we need to address globally and young people they are not only going to be the victims, but they can be actors and factors of change,” she said.
With climate change affecting vulnerable island states like Antigua & Barbuda, Espinosa encouraged more young people to join the battle against plastic being deposited in the ocean, and carbon emissions.
“I organised a high level ministerial event in New York and I invited young leaders from around the world to have the opportunity to exchange views, discuss and debate with Heads of State and government ministers about climate change. So I think it is very good that they are activists but they also have to be political actors and be part of the decision-making regarding climate change and also sustainable development,” the UNGA president said on the sidelines of last Saturday’s “Play It Out” concert in Antigua.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, a known advocate for youth empowerment, said the main purpose of the international concert was to raise the level of youth awareness of climate change and other global issues.
“We should have really marketed it as a family programme to get the youth out so that they can understand the impact of plastic pollution at an early age,” he said.
He indicated that he brought along his youngest son to the concert so that he could get an appreciation for the efforts to end plastic pollution.
“One of the reasons why I brought him is for him to understand the indiscriminate dumping of plastics, the fact that they end up in our waterways, in our oceans and the impacts on marine life, on human life. So it’s important that we start to educate our youth and I thought the concert should have focused more on our youth,” he said.
The Government of Antigua & Barbuda was the first in the region to ban single-use plastics and Styrofoam in 2016 and has been committed to lessening its carbon footprint since.
New bins with different compartments for recyclables and regular garbage were also installed in St. John’s City in April 2019. The initiative was undertaken in keeping with the Litter Control and Prevention Act which was passed earlier in February.