Beatrix talks with young conservationists

<span style='font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;'><span style='font-size: large;'>Beatrix talks with young conservationists</span></span>

News Social Improvement

3 min

A group of committed teenagers and young adults were given the opportunity to discuss environmental education and the involvement of young people when it comes to the preservation of nature. This happened during the “Jeugd- en Natuureducatie Symposium” (Youth and Environmental Education Symposium), which was organized by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) as part of their annual convention.

What was the symposium about exactly?

The DCNA works tirelessly for the preservation of nature in the Dutch Caribbean and one of its priorities is to involve the local youth in its efforts. After a successful Junior Rangers exchange during the 2019 DCNA convention, expectations were high for this year's edition. It was aimed at environmental education and the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. The convention's welcome note was given by Sietske van der Wal, representative of the Aruba Natural Parks Foundation, which was followed by the keynote speech by Dahlia Hassell-Knijff, who actually started her career in environmental preservation as a DCNA Youth Ranger on Saba when she was just seven years old.

Contributions of young conservationists

During the most recent edition of the DCNA convention, 17 participants aged between 15 and 23 years old were given the chance to talk about strategy for the preservation of the environment on their islands, and in what ways the local authorities can do more in that sense. They were also asked about their lives and livelihoods on the islands, and in what ways they feel climate change has had an impact on those.

Participation at the convention was not just a question of inscribing and hoping for the best. The participants went through a thorough selection process, followed by a prep period of three months in which they studied marine life, climate change, nature, and the environment in general. They were also provided with training to improve their debating skills and to prepare them for their talks at the DCNA convention. “They have a voice and we should listen to them more often”, says DCNA president Hellen van der Wal.

Princess Beatrix

The debate, led by Elton Villareal from Wanna Grow on Curaçao, was naturally the main event of the convention and all of the participants had the opportunity to share their conclusions with princess Beatrix, who serves as the patroness of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance. In the end, she was presented with three major proposals: setting up a new campaign for awareness, starting the Clean-Up Sunday initiative to clean the island on a weekly basis, and creating a youth council for environment.

Today's youth is generally very eager to learn and after today's debates, we are very motivated to prepare an inspiring and educational program for them next year”, says Achsah Mitchell from St. Eustatius National Parks. The next official youth symposium will take place on St. Eustatius in March 2022.

The basis for this article was originally published on (by Dick Drayer) on November 27th, 2021.



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