Speak up on Caribbean climate change issues

A communications campaign labelled Speak Up encourages citizens to lend a voice to climate change issues affecting the livelihood of people who live and work in Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries.

Little girl holding up a poster
Speak Up art competition

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and McNab Design Ltd (MDL) are working on the Speak Up campaign to boost the voices of people in the island states and coastal territories of the Caribbean when it comes to climate change.

The Caribbean region is very vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Extreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts and flash floods are more destructive in these areas. CCCCC says this is because the livelihood of those who work in fisheries and agriculture are often at risk due to unpredictable weather. 

The fragile ecosystems in the Caribbean, like the unique areas where coral reefs are found are affected by things that we expect, like pollution, but other events like rainfall, or a heatwave can create drastic changes as well. 

Coral reefs contain rare and diverse lifeforms. Some of the species that live in these ocean habitats are found in very few places on the planet and the variety of species is likely different from one place to the next.

The tiny, microscopic plant and animal lifeforms in the ocean are sensitive to pollution, just like birds, wildlife, and humans are. Too much heat, if the ocean’s temperature is too high, or if there’s too much fresh water from flooding, causes stress on these tiny organisms. And just like humans, they can perish or be displaced. 

From rising sea levels, disappearing species, tropical diseases, acid rain, the digging up of land for minerals and metals, the disposal of environmentally harmful waste, plastics and toxins, to the dumping of biohazard waste—these are all issues that need to be addressed world-wide, especially in nature-based or tourism dependant economies like the Caribbean.

People travel to Caribbean countries for the lush vegetation, beautiful beaches, rivers and oceans, activities like fishing, hiking in the mountains, the fresh air, to see the diverse species of birds and wildlife, as well as the people who protect the nature, heritage and culture of these unique geographic regions.

Organizers of Speak Up want people to ask themselves:
1. How has climate change affected me?
2. What is my message to the world on Caribbean climate change?

Entries will be evaluated based on: creativity, composition and clarity, theme interpretation, boldness, and issue impact. Citizens from all 16 Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) member states, a subgroup of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) are invited to take part:

  1. Antigua and Barbuda,
  2. The Bahamas,
  3. Barbados,
  4. Belize,
  5. Cuba,
  6. Dominica,
  7. Dominican Republic,
  8. Haiti,
  9. Grenada,
  10. Guyana,
  11. Jamaica,
  12. St. Kitts and Nevis,
  13. Saint Lucia,
  14. St. Vincent and the Grenadines,
  15. Suriname, and
  16. Trinidad and Tobago. 

Four winning artists will have their work seen by the Caribbean and EU communities, and will get a cash prize of USD$300.

Any CARIFORUM citizen over the age of three can enter the contest in one of four languages: English, Spanish, French or Dutch, up until the closing date on August 31, 2021 at 5 p.m. EST.

This art competition is an activity for the Enhancing Climate Resilience in CARIFORUM Countries project, an initiative of the OACPS, funded by the European Union.

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird

Stay informed of local culture. Shine a light on creativity. Share compelling stories about resilient people around the globe. Free, fair and accessible journalism with positive social impact. 

Add your comments about this story in the space below:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.