Monday, July 15, 2024
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BVI Youth Rep Charity Rymer tells UK parliament climate change is a risk to island youth

Dear Sir

The summer of 2017 was summer that changed the life of every young person in the Virgin Islands, myself included. What should have been a fun-filled holiday, turned into a life-threatening experience. Within the space of six weeks, we experienced severe flooding due to heavy rainfall and widespread destruction from two category-five hurricanes: Hurricane Irma and hurricane Maria.

Mr Speaker, territories like the British Virgin Islands whose carbon footprint is almost non-existent, are the ones that suffer the most from the environmental challenges the world now faces. In fact, for six months of the year from June to November, the concern of an active hurricane season is always daunting. The remainder of the terror and destruction that the floods and hurricanes brought has resulted in a growing mental health challenge amongst the population including young people.

For many months after I was evacuated, I could not imagine what it must have been like for those I left behind – no school, many with no roof over their heads, and sadly no hope. Life as they knew it was changed forever.

The future and sustainability of our islands rests with us, to mitigate against the effects of climate change. The youth will have a heavy, costly burden to bear. Our inheritance is an ever-increasing bill to rebuild our territory with each natural disaster that pays us an unwelcome visit. Climate change – sweeps across all areas of the lives of Virgin Islands Youth: our education, our food security, our paths to employment and entrepreneurship, our mental and physical health. But even though the future is uncertain, I am still hopeful, as even though we are small, we are mighty. 

Charity Rymer

Charity Rymer on behalf of the British Virgin Islands at the Youth Parliament that took place at the House of Commons at Westminster Palace, London, United Kingdom.



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