When you live in a small island country in the Caribbean with a population less than the size of a village in some countries, you sometimes wonder what impact you can have in the world. However, the size of our countries should not deter us from speaking out or undertaking endeavours that benefit us and our country. Though we may differ geographically, several of our environmental challenges are similar.
In Saint Lucia the issues related to climate change are always at the forefront priorities, especially when the Atlantic hurricane season draws closer. Additionally, we have adopted comprehensive measures to help us deal with pollution. One may think that climate change and pollution are not directly linked, however we often see how bad environmental practices (like pollution, plastic pollution in particular) can exacerbate climate change impacts during heavy rainfall.
Over the years, my efforts to bring to the fore the above-mentioned issues have led to my participation in many initiatives. In 2013 the Caribbean Youth Environment Network in Saint Lucia (CYEN), for which I serve as national coordinator, held a summer camp for marginalised children that allowed them to build stronger connections with the environment. Since then, every year we participate in the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). In the lead up to COP21 we undertook the ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’ Climate Justice Campaign, building awareness by targeting climate change impacts and international climate negotiations. Two years ago, I also started a microbusiness called 7Ks which focuses on upcycling and promoting sustainable lifestyles. As part of a team of young women, we started a social enterprise named Jua Kali Ltd, undertaking the country’s first-ever resource recovery pilot project that was extended to schools in 2017.
Snaliah Mahal is a native of St Lucia, with an MSc in Climate Change and International Development from the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom) and a B.A. in International Relations from the Universidad del Valle de Mexico (Mexico City). Snaliah interned at the United Nations Information Centre (Mexico) where she deepened her knowledge of the UN system and gained an appreciation for climate change and environmental issues. Her past work also involved teaching French, Spanish, Social Studies and Visual Arts at the secondary school level.