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Primary schools to lead climate change discussion on World Environment Day

Thursday, June 05, 2014    

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PRIMARY school students in the parish of Westmoreland will today have their say on whether protection of the famous Negril coast should solely be Government's responsibility when they face off in a debate to mark World Environment Day.

Teams from Townhead, Savanna-la-Mar, Broughton, Unity, and Green Island primary schools will argue the moot: 'Be it resolved that protecting Negril's coastline from the impact of climate change should be the sole responsibility of the State'.

The competition, which is organised by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), will be held at the Jamaica National Building Society Source Centre on Barracks Road in Savanna-la-Mar.

Dionne Rose, manager of public education and corporate communication at NEPA, said the agency has been seeking to address beach erosion in Negril and pointed out that a key component of those activities has been raising awareness of residents in western Jamaica on the impact of climate change in their communities.

"Our work in this area spans all age groups and encompasses a wide range of activities. All aim at educating the public on the critical role they play in safeguarding Negril's world-famous seven-mile beach and the environment in general. In line with the National Environment Awareness Week theme — 'Climate Change, Island Protection' — we thought it prudent to this year put the focus on Negril," said Rose.

To prepare the students, she said NEPA hosted a workshop for them and their teachers to inform them about the impact of climate change and strategies being undertaken by NEPA and other agencies of government to help the country adapt.

"We, therefore, anticipate an exciting and thought-provoking exchange between the participating teams and we expect that the surrounding communities of Seaton Crescent, Russia and Grotto will learn from the students," said Rose.

Public relations officer Deleen Powell added that one of the reason primary schools were selected for the debate is that in NEPA's experience, children at that age have proven to be among the most receptive to information on climate change.

"A lot of schools would have been exploring the subject of climate change in their curriculum, so we wanted them to now explore the subject in a more practical way. We also want to hear from them what they understand about climate change to inform us in the year ahead when we have outreach activities," she said.

The debate will be followed by an environmental expo and fun day. Corporate sponsors of the event, JNBS and Sandals and Beaches Negril will join government agencies such as the Registrar General's Department, Tax Administration Jamaica, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security's Path Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme as exhibitors.

World Environment Day is being observed under the theme 'Raise your voice, not the sea level'. In Jamaica it falls within National Environment Awareness Week, which is observed June 1 to 7.

The week began with a thanksgiving service at the St Andrew Parish Church and will culminate with the My Croc Adventure Crocodile Conservation and Enviro Fair to be held at Hope Zoo on Saturday, June 7 beginning at 10:00 am.

On Sunday, June 8, NEPA will team up with the Braeton Police Youth Club to clean up a beach in Hellshire, St Catherine, in observance of World Oceans Day.

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