Written by 6:03 am Art

Lombard Odier expands reach of BREEF’s Young Ocean Activists 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Scores of scholars from across the country are learning the right way to turn out to be powerful ocean advocates due to Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE), a programme launched by the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF).

Heading into its third 12 months of operation, YRE has tapped into funding from a seemingly unlikely source, wealth management firm Lombard Odier. The financial backing helps provide broader access to young people aged 11-25, as they research environmental issues and promote solutions through editorials, photography, and video journalism.

(L-R) Niekia Horton, Deputy Managing Director, Lombard Odier & Cie (Bahamas) Ltd; Nadia Pinder-Morris, Office and Projects Manager, BREEF; Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director, BREEF; and Dr. Alanna McCartney, VP and Regional Group HR Head, Lombard Odier & Cie (Bahamas) Ltd.

“We would like to construct the capability of young people across the country to effectively communicate about challenges to the marine environment and solutions,” Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF’s executive director said.

“Although this system culminates in a contest, it’s really a year-round program that involves field trips, field study into the environment giving these young people fodder to jot down about and take photographs.

“Plenty of persons are uncomfortable stepping into the ocean and haven’t yet had a likelihood to exit and see a coral reef themselves. So, this programme really gets young people into the environment. There are quite a lot of field studies happening over the weekend, mangrove walks and coral reefs snorkel which are open to children within the programme.”

Already 60 students from a mixture of public, private, primary and secondary schools have signed up to inform stories concerning the ocean to the world through BREEF’s social media platforms and media partnerships.

The Young Reporters for the Environment programme was stablished in The Bahamas in 2019, and already engages nearly half one million youth in 42 countries, in keeping with its website. The local arm was the primary within the region and got here about through a grant funded by the United Nations Global Environment Facility.

Funding from Lombard Odier allows YRE to supply basic swimming lessons and snorkeling trips freed from charge to young people.

BREEF youth ocean activist Crashonda exploring the natural environment.

In response to Renaud Vielfaure, Lombard Odier Bahamas’ Managing Director, the partnership between a personal banker and a non-profit conservationist and advocacy group is de facto not that farfetched.

“We consider the world is on the dawn of the subsequent great economic revolution, one where sustainability will probably be on the core of all investment decisions. The necessity to convert to an economy which is circular, lean, inclusive and clean grows ever greater,” Vielfaure said.

“Being an element of that transition means investing in programs for youth which can educate and empower future generations to take decisive actions in the case of protecting the environment and oceans surrounding vulnerable, small island states like The Bahamas.”

Roughly 95 percent of The Bahamas’ 100,000 square miles of territory is ocean and 35 percent of coral reefs in the broader Caribbean region is situated here.

“The ocean is de facto what makes this country what it’s,” said McKinney-Lambert. “Getting local businesses excited and engaged with the ocean in each their business activities, doing that in an environmentally sustainable way, and supporting non-profit organizations which are doing much of the work on the bottom is totally essential.”

She added: “Sponsorship and donations are so vital because we actually need to make our programmes accessible to everybody. We appreciate organizations which are working in The Bahamas, getting involved with the really big, really vital issues for our island nation.”

Most participants enroll in Young Reporters for the Environment through their schools, although older teens and young adults could contact BREEF for more information and join its mailing list.

YRE meetings are monthly, although, throughout the pandemic, this system went virtual. In-person summer sea camps are held in New Windfall, San Salvador, Andros and Eleuthera.

YRE also offers free field trips to students every spring and fall. To further connect individuals with the marine environment, snorkeling opportunities free to the general public are held over the weekend with five snorkelers to 1 guide ratio, said Allison Longley, YRE’s national operator.

BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert and student at Coral Reef Sculpture Garden Coral. Photo credit: Shane Gross

The most well-liked snorkeling location is the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and Coral Nursery on the southwest tip of New Windfall. It’s home to the world’s largest underwater sculpture and living art gallery. Much of the reef rescue work at the location is conducted by young people in BREEF’s programs.

McKinney-Lambert said: “We’ve found students who initially, really didn’t think that they had a number of options for his or her future and the ocean wasn’t even something that resonated or that they thought was a possibility. They arrive out on a snorkeling experience and hastily there’s this whole world that they might be an element of and take into consideration in the case of careers. The experience opens quite a lot of doors.”

Young people’s work in this system focuses on connections between climate change, carbon pollution and the coral reefs that protect and sustain the Bahamian lifestyle.

Longley said: “All year long we ask our young reporters to supply different types of media so that they would write a letter to the editor about climate change or utilize our social media pages. In fact, the top being the national competition where their project is due. Projects are focused on three different topics to pick from: biodiversity loss, plastic pollution or climate change.”

In response to BREEF executives, this system’s success is clear within the doubling of its members and competition entries since its inception but more importantly the emergence of youth as powerful communicators.

“These are the people who find themselves going to be most impacted by the choices older persons are making without delay, and young persons are realizing that their opinions and are concerns are vital,” said McKinney-Lambert.

“It’s exciting to give you the chance to amplify their voices and get to the purpose where young persons are producers of knowledge and knowledge and never just passive consumers of it. Knowledge equipped with a platform to attach each nationally and internationally is a extremely powerful force for good in the case of protecting the world’s oceans.”

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