Hundreds of middle and high schoolchildren gathered at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute for the second last day of the Youth Climate Summit to learn how businesses and pressure groups have pitched in to protect the environment.
The youngsters, who have followed the weeklong summit, will today select they groups they wanted to back and showcase how they would improve environmental sustainability on the island.
Kisaye Bell and Samiah Fisher, both 16-year-old CedarBridge Academy pupils, said that the summit inspired them to start an eco club at school and possibly continue their activism when they moved on to university.
Kisaye added: “It’s great because we’re not just changing Bermuda with this – we’re changing other parts of the planet.”
The two said that they wanted the eco club to meet businesses to get sponsorship for trash collection and to offer recycling services such as the transformation of old clothes into reusable bags.
They added that they had volunteered for clean-ups in the past, but neither of them had realised how serious environmental problems were.
Kisaye said: “I’m learning a lot of stuff that I didn’t know about before, especially about how big a change we can make by doing something so little, like reducing plastic bag use.”
Samiah added: “I didn’t know that so many different groups and big organisations were interested in helping.
“It’s really good to see that the community is really coming together to make sure that Bermuda has a future and that we don’t go underwater.
“It was also really fun learning about the different organisations such as Bermuda is Love and what we can do and how little we have to do to change things.
“Now that I have learnt about all the different organisations I really do want to get into it, because I feel like even if I’m just doing it by myself I’m at least making a small change.”
Schoolchildren watched presentations from several businesses and environmental groups.
They also selected made choices from three areas – sustainability, climate justice and conservation – that they hoped to contribute to and today will meet other youngsters with the same goal to discuss how to achieve their goals.
Weldon Wade, of the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme, said that it was “really emotional” to see so many youngsters determined to learn about environmental preservation.
He added: “Most of what fuels the work I do, what gets me up in the morning, is definitely fighting hard to inspire the youth to follow my footsteps in fighting for ocean sustainability.
“I look at the work I do and the work my peers do as a stewardship and we are stewarding our environment for the benefit of future generations.”
Mr Wade said that the summit was part of a bigger effort on the island to combat climate change at home and on a global level.
He added that the recruitment of young people ensured that the movement would continue for years to come.
Mr Wade said: “As a diver, as a Bermudian, as a Black Bermudian and as an ocean conservationist and educator, this summit checks all the boxes for me. I couldn’t be more excited.”
The pupils will present their plans today and select an organisation that they hoped to work with to put their proposals into action.
They will also select representatives to sit on the Youth Climate Advisory Board, who will oversee the protects for the next twelve months.