Student Leaders Inspire Action at BREEF Environment Summit

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Seventy young environmental leaders from around The Bahamas gathered to take part in the first ever BREEF Eco-Schools Youth Environmental Leadership Summit. The two-day summit was sponsored by the US Embassy and held at the New Providence Community Centre. Student environmental leaders joined the two-day summit from eighteen schools from Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and New Providence. All of these young people are taking action for the environment through Eco-Schools – an international sustainable schools programme that BREEF runs in The Bahamas.

Minister Kenred Dorsett brought welcoming remarks congratulating BREEF and stating “all young people should be learning about environmental sustainability, and Eco-Schools need to be a model for all schools in the country”. BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert thanked the US Embassy for being the lead sponsor of this environmental summit, and appreciated the support of partner organisations NPCC and the Ministry of Tourism. Many other NGOs, civil society organizations, and local businesses provided in-kind support for the summit, and ongoing support for schools.

Participating students of all ages came from public and private schools around the country.  These schools are now part of a global network; they are engaged in solving real-world environmental issues faced by their communities through the investigation of themes including energy, waste, water, biodiversity, climate change and healthy living. At the summit they shared ideas and networked with other students across the country.

Students from Green-flag awarded schools gave presentations on the activities that they are doing to protect the environment including up-cycling waste items to create art, growing native plant gardens, and installing solar panels. Of great interest for all, several schools demonstrated how their actions saved funds by reducing their school’s consumption of energy and water. To build on energy conservation and the link with climate change, Minister Dorsett explained that with the implementation of the amended Electricity Act in effect as of last week members of the public, including schools, are now able to connect to the grid and receive credit for electricity generated by alternative means. This was met with great excitement by the students.

Workshop participants learned about careers in environmental fields through field trips, a career panel and an exhibition by local businesses, government agencies and NGOs, including staff from Atlantis with a touch tank. “It was awesome to learn about opportunities within Eco Schools and the careers pathway that being a eco club member can lead to. Thank you BREEF!”  Stated ninth grade student Tavoughnya Thompson from Preston H Albury High School, Eleuthera.