By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 15, 2022 – Young people across the Caribbean had the chance to make their voices heard in the Caribbean Development Banks Youth for Innovation and Resilience or Youth FIRE Forum on Tuesday, June 7th, on Facebook as part of the annual general meeting proceedings.
The forum was split into two sessions, session one ‘Climate Change and Health’ was moderated by Dr. Keron Niles and focused on how the reality of climate change affects health in youth, specifically mental health. It is not often that mental health is associated with climate change but Niles put it succinctly by saying,
“Can you imagine being afraid of the rain? Because you’re afraid it’s going to be another hurricane that could ruin your life?”
Dr. Anya Malcolm-Gibbs, a licensed clinical psychologist in the Turks and Caicos, agreed, referencing the severe effects of hurricane Irma in the Turks and Caicos, she explained that extreme weather can negatively affect youth mentally. Malcolm-Gibbs called on regional governments to be proactive in their efforts.
“There must be stronger efforts for integrated support with various stakeholders, psychological first aid training and resiliency planning need to be at the forefront of intervention.” she maintained.
Onika Stellingburg-Benn Regional Coordinator of the Caribbean of the Royal Commonwealth Society, concurred with Malcolm-Gibbs noting that:
“Our health ministries should collaborate with other ministries to ensure that health implications are included in the design of any climate change intervention.”
Quacy Grant of the Guyana Youth Council stressed that the link between environment and man was impossible to untangle and the health of one affected the other.
“Usually when we think about health and healthcare and when we think about the person that is ill, we limit that person to a disease… we forget that that person has a bio, socio, psycho component. We cannot take a person out of the environmental context in which they live, and we can’t take from the environment those organisms that live in it…the health of the environment will affect organisms…we have to remember that climate change has an effect on our health”
He explained that during interventions, for example, moving people to shelters the mental toll must be considered as well.
Panelist Jamilia Sealy who is a part of the Caribbean Youth Entrepreneurship Network quoted a recent survey that proved that the knowledge surrounding climate change and its effect on health was limited and its effects were often mistakenly ignored.
“In the last weekend, the CYN in Barbados did a survey on climate justice…and from what I’ve seen only 21.5 percent of the 300 respondents noted that they thought health was an impact of climate change…I believe that maybe they’re not as aware of the impacts and might not include mental health as an issue.”
Sealy stressed that it was something we all had to work on. Colin Young, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, or 5Cs, explained that climate change was ‘cross cutting’ the Caribbean, affecting every single area of our lives in ways we might never have thought about. He explained the Caribbean is dealing with multiple blows like pandemics and the worsening climate situation all at once and we need to be prepared.
“It’s stressing our health systems and our ability to cope, on [both] the mental health side and the physical side. So, this conversation is absolutely vital,” he said.
Young expressed that while some steps were being taken it was not yet enough.
“Unfortunately, as a region we do not undertake the type of research that will allow us to understand the effects of climate change on our youth’s mental health”
Young said a study was done on climate change and mental wellbeing on 10 000 young people in over 10 countries and found that:
“Across the countries, 59 percent of those interviewed were extremely worried about climate change, 84% of those were moderately worried and more than 50% reported emotions of sadness, anxiety, powerlessness, helplessness, and guilt.”
So how do we combat all of this?
Referencing the emerging issues Young said understanding them was key to creating programs within our health system that could combat them more efficiently.
Grant added that one way to get ahead of the issue was to carry out more operational research rather than academic research to find out what interventions will work best to ensure we have evidence-based tools to combat the effect of climate change on health.
For the everyday tools that youth can put into practice Sealy said, being aware of how climate change affects us and taking care of ourselves mentally and physically to reduce those impacts was important. Things as small as: cooling down on a hot day and wearing lighter clothes to make ourselves more comfortable were important.
Additionally, Sealy said educating ourselves about climate change from reputable sources and understanding the global reality was paramount. Grant insisted that this climate change education must include active change.
“We should not educate the populace on climate change and health just for them to be aware, but we want some behaviour change. I think it starts in the home,” he said.
Stronger government response to disasters equals quicker recovery, getting back to normalcy quicker and thus possibly reduced trauma on youth, Young had several suggestions on how regional governments could make this happen, they included:
- Having access to real-time data integrated across all disaster response services
- Ensuring that disaster response is prepared for new climate emergencies
- Upgrading the quality of hurricane shelters.
- Upgrading critical infrastructure needed for post-hurricane recovery including health and water.
All the panellists encouraged more comprehensive efforts to bolster hurricane and climate change readiness which they say is to the benefit of youth.
US Milestone Celebrated
#Jamaica, June 30, 2022 – This year marks the United States of America’s (USA) 246th anniversary of Independence, and the milestone was celebrated with a reception on June 28 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. The event also featured the traditional United States Marine Corps Colour Guard ceremony.
“The Government of Jamaica is pleased to join in commemorating this milestone with our American friends and partners. Today we celebrate a nation that continues to give practical meaning to the declaration of Independence and the vision of the founding fathers for the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These tenets have been central to the growth and development of the Union since 1776 and its transformation as a global leader,” he said.
For his part, US Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Nick Perry, said the countries’ partnership has been rewarding, and expressed the United States’ continued commitment to strengthening the cooperation between the nations.
“On behalf of the United States Mission to Jamaica, thank you for joining us as we celebrate the 246th anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. As we celebrate America’s independence, we also celebrate 60 years of partnership between our two countries. Together we have promoted democracy, human rights, and shared security concerns,” he said.
Jamaica established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1962, following its independence from the United Kingdom.
The partnership focuses on reducing corruption; increasing transparency and good governance; fostering Jamaican participation in regional security efforts; strengthening basic education; and increasing energy resiliency.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has provided more than US$16.4 million as well as donations of vaccines to assist Jamaica’s containment measures.
Additionally, over the last 12 months, the United States has collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to issue a record number of H2 visas, bringing critical, temporary labour to the US, while providing jobs for thousands of Jamaicans that resulted in millions of dollars in remittances.
Significantly, the Peace Corps, which is also celebrating 60 years of partnership with Jamaica this year, will resume its operations on the island beginning September, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Contact: Rochelle Williams
Positive Outlook for Caribbean Tourism
June, 30, 2022 – The president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, says tourism in the Caribbean is recovering faster than expected.
While presenting at the CHTA ‘Caribbean Tourism Fireworks’, she said the Caribbean travel and tourism sector experienced the second-fastest recovery of all regions in 2021. Travel and Tourism have contributed to the gross domestic product (GDP) by 36.6 per cent. She added that they have recovered over 311,000 jobs.
“That is really a testament to how fast Caribbean tourism has been able to come back into play,” said Madden-Greig.
January and February were not as successful because of the uprising of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Travel heightened between March and June, and Madden-Greig reported that summer looks promising and that they “expect that winter 2022-2023 will also be strong”.
“For the June to August period, [the Caribbean is] ahead of our 2019 airline arrivals in terms of what is forecast and on the books by upwards of two per cent,” she said.
The CHTA’s Caribbean Tourism Fireworks is what the trade association uses to communicate regional tourism performance and outlook survey results. In addition to the performance reports, other topics were discussed including the recognition of Caribbean tourism’s resilience; that investments by the tourism industry in capital improvements, health safety and product value are underpinning the region’s tourism recovery; and that labour shortages present immediate and long-term opportunities.
CHTA urged employers, governments, education and training institutions to recruit new employees and prepare communities for careers, employment and ownership opportunities within the sector.
Also present at the CHTA Caribbean Tourism Firework were CHTA’s acting CEO and Director General, Vanessa Ledesma, Jamaican hotelier Clifton Reader, and the chair of CHTA’s Advocacy Committee.
While the speakers agreed that intra-Caribbean travel has great opportunities, they share that there are connectivity issues and issues with preserving, protecting and enhancing the region’s natural resources.
Sandals Resorts International Appoints Rachel McLarty as Corporate Director of Communications & Public Relations
Communications Executive Rejoins Brand After Tenure at Distinguished Jamaican Law Firm
MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA, June 15, 2022 – Sandals Resorts International recently announced the appointment of Rachel McLarty to Corporate Director of Communications & Public Relations, overseeing the company’s corporate communication efforts and public relations initiatives for the Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts brands throughout the Caribbean. Reporting to Executive Chairman Adam Stewart and CEO Gebhard Rainer, McLarty returns to the organization after a ten-year hiatus where she previously held the position of Group Director of Corporate Relations.
“We are in a moment of tremendous momentum and require a skilled, expert hand to navigate through what will be an upcoming decade of unprecedented growth for the organization,” said Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of SRI. “Rachel McLarty is that voice in the Caribbean, and we are thrilled to welcome her back to the company as we celebrate our 40th anniversary and plan for the next forty.”
McLarty, who will be based in the Kingston headquarters of Sandals Resorts International, will lead a talented team of public relations and communication professionals in Jamaica and throughout the entire Caribbean region. During her first tenure with SRI, McLarty served as Group Director of Corporate Relations for the organization for a period of five years, beginning in 2006. Prior to rejoining the company, she served as an attorney-at-law at Myers, Fletcher & Gordon, one of the largest law firms in Jamaica. She is deeply committed to improving and developing Caribbean communities, currently sitting as Chairman of the Board for St. Andrew High School for Girls and the SOS Children’s Villages in Jamaica.
“Sandals Resorts International remains the brand standard for Caribbean organizations, and it is an honour to rejoin the company at such a prolific time,” said McLarty. “And while I have certainly followed the tremendous success of the brands in the last decade, I have remained even more impressed by the organization’s continued commitment to the Caribbean, the region we all call home. I look forward to the incredible work to be done.”
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