YOUTH SPEAK LOUDLY AT THE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO ENERGY CONFERENCE
1st February 2023 – Port-of-Spain: Secondary School students want child-friendly energy education, clean energy solutions, and greater environmental responsibility for a better quality of life in Trinidad and Tobago. This summarises the views of one hundred and thirty (130) secondary school students attending the Heroes of Energy Youth Forum at the 2023 Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference.
The Forum is a collaboration between the Heroes Foundation (Heroes) and The Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, designed to expose children to energy sector developments and opportunities and include their voices in national development discussions.
In his welcome to students, Energy Chamber Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Thackwray “Dax” Driver affirmed the Chamber’s commitment to supporting youth development, especially in a transitioning energy environment. He explained, “The Energy Chamber focuses on helping companies get better, to work better and safer, become more environmentally friendly, and create more opportunities to generate employment and revenue for Trinidad and Tobago. Having young people at the Conference allows our future leaders to meet with companies, ask and challenge people on what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and find things that interest them. My most important lesson from life is to find something that interests you and do that with a passion. This Forum is an opportunity for young people to find a passion in energy.”
Students learnt about Trinidad and Tobago’s energy history, current developments, and future aspirations from energy expert Philip Julien, Chairman of Kenesjay Green Limited. They also engaged with local and international professionals in roundtable discussions and at the conference tradeshow.
Chair of the Heroes Generation to Generation Council (G2G), the organisation’s youth advisory team, Zion Benjamin, thanked the Energy Chamber for listening to and supporting children and youth in Trinidad and Tobago. In his address at the Energy Conference Closing Ceremony, the 19-year-old explained, “Today, we asked questions important to us and shared our perspective on what the future of Trinidad and Tobago should look like. Thank you, Energy Chamber, for giving us a seat at this table.
Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean territories are vulnerable to the devasting effects of climate change. We understand the need to make money from our energy resources, but we also require a good quality of life that green energy solutions can support. We unanimously agree that communication and education are key in the energy transition, and child-friendly learning material should be easily accessible for children and youth. We want everyone to understand how their energy use impacts the environment and to take collective action to reduce our energy use and carbon footprint.
It’s interesting to see Trinidad and Tobago as a potential fuel hub for methanol-fuelled ships. We are intrigued by the role technology can play in reducing our energy demand and waste. We hope that CNG and electric vehicles will form a bigger part of our transportation system in the near future and that renewable energy solutions will become more affordable and accessible to everyone soon. Our engagement at the Energy Conference continues to get deeper, and we need support not only to understand but to build a sustainable future for Trinidad and Tobago.”
Attending the Student Recap Session were Minister in the Ministry of Education, Lisa Morris-Julien, and Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Stuart Young, who engaged with students on their feedback. Minister Young stressed the importance of young people sharing their ideas and getting involved in the energy transition. He explained, “Trinidad and Tobago has been leading energy conversations globally, and I am hopeful to see young people driving this country forward.
Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil; fortunately, that is what we have here in Trinidad and Tobago. We are also moving to renewables, but renewable energy alone will not power everything. We must find the right mix and balance that will continue to benefit our people, and you, young people, can help us find that balance. Schools are paid for by the revenue from natural gas, so we cannot take the position of shutting down fossil fuels. However, technology and resources exist to help us do it cleaner, and we already produce two of the cleanest commodities for energy – methanol and ammonia.
As was said long ago, “the future of our country is in your schoolbags,” and you have to keep the pressure on and challenge us older ones. I look forward to young people helping us use our energy more efficiently, use our gas in cleaner ways, use renewables, and find better ways to reduce our waste and pollutants.”
The Heroes of Energy Youth Forum supports the achievement of the following Sustainable Development Goals:
SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts – Indicator 13.3
SDG 17: Revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development – Indicator 17.17
SCHOOL ATTENDING THE HEROES OF ENERGY YOUTH FORUM:
Future Forum connects children and youth with government and industry leaders to include their voices in national development discussions.
On Wednesday 25th January, 2023, Moriah Wong Chong and Jovanna Khan of the Heroes Generation to Generation Council – the youth advisory team, engaged Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, the Honourable Stuart Young, and Heroes Chairman, Joel Pemberton, on energy and environmental sustainability.
They explored the role of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries in the energy transition, the potential opportunities for Venezuelan gas in the transition, and their views of what we should do as a country.
Future Forum connects children and youth with government and industry leaders to include their voices in national development discussions. This year’s Future Forum is being delivered in collaboration with the NOW Morning Show.
Multi-sector collaboration to safeguard, protect, and empower children and youth
23rd December, 2022 – Port-of-Spain: Over 500 local and migrant children across Trinidad and Tobago are leading efforts to end violence and abuse in their schools and communities.
The participants in the Spotlight Heroes Programme are implementing projects in 30 Secondary Schools and in various communities to address issues important to them, including bullying, school violence, child abuse, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, and anger management.
Designed and delivered by the Heroes Foundation and UNICEF in support of the Spotlight Initiative, the Spotlight Heroes Programme started in April 2022 to educate and empower children and youth to lead and demand lives free from violence and abuse.
Participants received training in gender-sensitivity, leadership, advocacy, communication, technology skills, and project management, and developed project plans to address problems experienced in their schools and communities.
To date, over 9,000 persons have been engaged in-person in youth-led education and advocacy projects, and over 775,000 have been reached through social media as participants raise their voices to inspire positive behaviour change, safety, and respect for children and youth.
The Spotlight Initiative is a global initiative of the United Nations which has received generous support from the European Union. Its aim is to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Spotlight Heroes Programme is supported by several Ministries and entities committed to safeguarding and protecting children and youth in Trinidad and Tobago, including the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs), the Ministry of Education, the Tobago House of Assembly, and the Pan-American Development Foundation.
Digital media campaign launched highlighting the voices of children and youth to end violence and abuse.
Tuesday 13thSeptember, 2022: The Heroes Foundation and the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago in support of the Spotlight Initiative have launched a digital media campaign that highlights the voices, views, thoughts, and opinions of children and youth across Trinidad and Tobagoon eliminating violence and abuse against children, particularly gender-based violence.
The Campaign leveragesstories and insights from the lived experiences of over four hundred (400) children on what makes them feel unsafe and their recommendations for addressing the problems they experience.
VIOLENCE AND ABUSE ARE NOT OKAY: Violence and abuse should not be a normalised part of life. While we may see it around us, it is not something we should accept or be forced to face.
VIOLENCE AND ABUSE ARE EVERYONE’S BUSINESS: We have a culture of ignoring abuse or distancing ourselves from violence when we see it, but we have a responsibility to challenge it.
ABUSE IS NOT DISCIPLINE: Parents and caretakers sometimes defend corporal punishment as the most effective form of discipline. Discipline that instils fear or inflicts hurt or harm instead of imparting a lesson is abuse. It’s important to think before you act when it comes to discipline; actions have lasting consequences on the lives of children.
BOYS AND MEN ARE VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE AND ABUSE, TOO: Men and boys are often typecast as the lone perpetrators of violence and ignored as victims, but boys and men are often victims themselves. It’s important to create safe spaces for men and boys to express emotions, be listened to without judgement, and get help when needed. It’s also important to show men and boys how to deal with their feeling and emotions in safe and healthy ways.
WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT’S RIGHT AND WHAT’S NOT:Education and re-education are critical to addressing violence against children and gender-based violence. There are many behaviours and practices which cause hurt and harm that we’ve learnt to accept but are not right. Sometimes we need help understanding when our words and actions are not right, and we may need to be shown how to behave differently.
VIOLENCE AND ABUSE AGAINST CHILDREN CANNOT BE STOPPED BY CHILDREN ALONE: Adults need to know and understand when they are causing hurt and harm to children. Addressing violence and abuse against children must involve re-educating adults on how to support, care for, and guide children well.
Heroes Foundation CEO Lawrence Arjoon with Campaign Youth Production team Tahirah Mc Donald, Meagan Primus, Oba Hyland.
Heroes Campaign Youth Production team members
YOU CAN GET HELP: There are people who can and will help if you are a victim of violence and abuse. Use the reporting channels to get help:
Children’s Authority: 996
The Spotlight Initiative is a global initiative of the United Nations which has received generous support from the European Union. It aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
Campaign content can be found on all social media platforms for the organisations.
Heroes is proud to have partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Trinidad and Tobago Country Office and U-Report Trinidad and Tobago for Cheer Fair 2022.
Cheer Fair offered fun, engaging virtual and physical activities focused on digital and progressive areas for the entire family. This year’s activities covered Gender Equality, Climate Change and the Blue Economy, Health, Water, Housing, Digital Transformation, and Transportation.
We were happy to get dozens of young people registered with U-Report Trinidad and Tobago at Cheer Fair as well! U-Report is a digital tool that allows children and youth to share their views and opinions on issues important to them. That information is then used to influence Government decision-making and policies.
Thanks to the IDB team for yet another amazing event, to all the young people who signed up for U-Report, to the exhibitors who showed us cool and innovative things, AND for all the goodies 😉
IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Carina Cockburn, notes, “This Forum will allow leaders and experts to ensure that our development agenda meets the needs of one of our most important stakeholders – the youth. Creating a sustainable future requires us to ensure that their voices and views guide our planning and decision making.”
See you next year at Cheer Fair!
From L to R: Heroes Foundation CEO and IDB Next Gen Board Member, Lawrence Arjoon; U-Report Youth Committee Member and Heroes G2G Councillor, Zachary Benjamin; Heroes G2G Chair, Zion Benjamin, Minister of Planning and Development, The Honourable Penelope Beckles; IDB Country Representative, Carina Cockburn; Heroes G2G Councillors, Carey Greaves, Jahiem Fraser, Hadara Ramsahai, Luke Leopold, Kevin Gonzales.
U-Report Coordinator, Camille Bethel, U-Report Youth Committee Member Jeremy Baptiste
Visitors at the Heroes Foundation and U-Report Cheer Fair booth.
IDB Next Gen Board Member, Dawsher Charles at the Heroes Foundation and U-Report Cheer Fair booth.
Visitors at the Heroes Foundation and U-Report Cheer Fair booth.
Visitors at the Heroes Foundation and U-Report Cheer Fair booth.