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Championing Climate Justice: The Resilient Caribbean Youth Leading the Charge

James Ellsmoor | Climate Justice in the Caribbean

In the shimmering waters of the Essequibo River in Guyana, a vivid symbol of resilience unfolds as a young child masterfully navigates the stretch with the aid of a ship’s rope. This image mirrors the determination of Caribbean communities across the globe, from Apia to New York, who have united in a common goal—a pursuit for justice and equity in the face of climate change.

At the forefront of this fight are the islands’ youth, catalyzing a movement that demands not just aid, but equitable solutions to a crisis disproportionately affecting them. In anticipation of the pivotal fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) in Antigua & Barbuda, passionate discussion among island representatives underscored a unified message. The dialogue centered not on petitions for charity but on a collective call for fairness and responsibility from the global community, as articulated by Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu.

The discourse in Antigua was charged with an urgency to forge new paths towards sustainable development. Key focuses included the overhaul of international financial architectures, harnessing nature-based innovations, creating meaningful partnerships, and most crucially, engaging the youth in these groundbreaking endeavors.

Distinguished leaders such as Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley amplified this narrative on global stages, advocating for a restructuring of policies that currently stand inefficient and at times, unjust. Within these communities, the younger generation steps forward, ready to spearhead sustainable solutions and carry forward the legacy of resilience and innovation.

A striking example of this youth-driven initiative is Ashley Lashley, the Caribbean’s voice in the Youth Advisory Panel to the CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA). Lashley’s eloquent address at SIDS4’s ‘amplifying action in the call for climate justice’ event highlighted a crucial perspective often overlooked—the indispensable inclusion of future generations in climate justice narratives.


In line with the spirit of progress and inclusion, the Caribbean Climate Justice Leaders Academy (CCJLA) launched by Island Innovation stands as a beacon of hope and action. The Academy drew over 500 applicants, all eager to join its ranks and become part of a comprehensive 10-week program designed to deepen their understanding of environmental sustainability, climate resilience, and the broader impacts of international policies on the Caribbean reality.

The inaugural cohort, representing each CARICOM nation, benefited from the expertise of diverse speakers, including environmental advocates and tech entrepreneurs. Their journey led a select group to COP28 in Dubai, an experience that was both transformative and affirming for participants like Muskaan Khemani from Curaçao. Khemani’s account of fostering valuable connections and initiating impactful projects back home underscores the Academy’s role in not just educating but empowering Caribbean youth.

As the CCJLA gears up for another year, the upcoming cohort is set to welcome 50 bright, motivated individuals, reflecting the burgeoning interest among Caribbean youth in crafting a fair and sustainable future. SIDS4 underscored the integral role of youth in driving change, showcasing their innovative solutions, resilience, and unwavering commitment to climate justice.

The narrative of climate equity and justice in the Caribbean is a testament to the region’s strength, creativity, and indomitable spirit. With each step forward, led by young visionaries like those at CCJLA, the Caribbean is not just confronting climate change but is reshaping its legacy for generations to come.

Ethan Wilder

Ethan Wilder is a conservation photographer and videographer whose lens captures the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world and the critical challenges it faces. With a focus on wilderness preservation and animal rights, Ethan's work is a poignant reminder of what is at stake. His photo essays and narratives delve into the heart of environmental issues, combining stunning visuals with compelling storytelling. Ethan offers a unique perspective on the role of art in activism, inviting readers to witness the planet's wonders and advocating for their protection.

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