St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN); Educating global citizens about the impacts of climate change on countries and people’s livelihoods and health and inspiring them to act in defense of environmental protection is one of the main focuses of Earth Day 2017.
Celebrated annually on April 22, this year, environmental leaders and groups have launched a campaign of education dedicated to ensuring that citizens around the world become environmental and climate literate, ready to take action and be a voice for change.
According to the US-based NGO group Earth Day Network, this goal is not only an enormous undertaking, it is critical and timely.
“The signing of the Paris Agreement is one step towards mitigating the impacts of climate change. Education needs to be a key part of this effort.
"We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.”
As the debate about the realities of climate change rages on, scientists say climate change affects every country and impacts not only physical infrastructure, but also affects citizens’ health, leads to the spread of diseases, threatens food security, and disrupts the supply of critical resources such as water.
Increased temperatures, which has been attributed largely to global warming, has had adverse impacts on food production, leading to higher prices and reduced access to nutrition, which will in turn make individuals more vulnerable to disease, in particular to new pathogens that might be spread by vectors, such as mosquitoes that thrive as temperatures rise.
The Caribbean has already started suffering the effects of drought conditions due to reduced rainfall and as a destination largely dependent on sun, sea and sand tourism, could see more difficulties as rising ocean temperatures and acidity could irreversibly damage key marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, and affect fisheries.
In an earth day message, Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization said the CTO is pleased to declare its support for actions that make a difference.
“It is no secret that the very foundation of Caribbean tourism is our unparalleled natural environment; one that is rich in biodiversity, is virtually unpolluted, boasts landscapes that draw visitors from across the globe, and sustains life and livelihood. In the Caribbean we have a sacred duty to protect these assets by insisting on the development and adoption of sustainable tourism practices, while responsibly sharing our natural treasures with travelers to our shores.”
Mr. Riley highlighted the CTO’s purpose ‘Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean’ emphasizing that the CTO is intimately attuned with the need to respect the earth.
“It is our belief that there will always be conflict between respect for our planet and the desire to profit from invaluable natural assets that we possess. Moreover, we must recognize that destroying our planet in pursuit of economic growth is an existential threat to both present and future generations.
“It is for this very reason that the CTO strives to position the Caribbean as a truly sustainable tourism region - a region that leads the global response to climate change by pursuing carbon neutrality, one that actively manages its land, water, and energy resources and decisively employs technologies that drive resource efficiencies across its tourism supply chains.”
The Tourism executive said when seeking to protect the planet, one of the greatest challenges is to enlist all citizens to join the effort and therefore the Caribbean Tourism Organization, through its trained professionals and in conjunction with global and regional partners, is pleased to provide guidance and information on how the actions of any individual can be an effective part of the solution.