“We can get an army of people through social media to bring about change” – Sir Richard Branson
As a Caribbean national from Trinidad and Tobago I have always known and loved water, whether it be bathing in the rain, going to the beach or river, attending a water party or enjoying a water fight with friends, water is deeply embedded in our culture. Upon completion of my MSc in Sustainable Development which heavily focused on Land and Water Management, from Kingston University London I fully understood the complexity and severity of the global water crisis and wanted to do everything in my power to be part of the solution.
A year ago, if you told me I would be where I am today, I promise you I would’ve laughed and dismissed it. As faith would have it, I saw on Facebook an opportunity posted by another water advocate, Rianna Gonzales – who now is Youth Engagement Specialist with GWP – to join and attend the World Youth Parliament for Water 4th General Assembly as well as the 8th World Water Forum 2018. My application was successful and from that moment forward my life was completely transformed. At the general assembly I joined the communications team and eventually became the Parliament’s Communications Facilitator, responsible for managing all social media accounts, developing the communications strategy and managing all other communication related activities.
"A simple Facebook post changed my life"
This was important to me because a simple Facebook post changed my life and I saw the impact of social media as a tool for progress, education, opportunity, inspiration and mobilisation. Therefore, my dedication to the Parliament as the Communications Facilitator is inspired by the ability to transform the lives of all our followers by providing them with the necessary opportunities and information to be the change makers that they aspire to be at their fingertips.
Social media has facilitated many other life changing opportunities for me, such as the Peace Boat Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Program which I participated in thanks to the sponsorship of Global Water Partnership Caribbean. I was able to sail throughout Europe and across the Atlantic to New York City with 7 other young people from Small Island Developing States educating many on the impacts of climate change in my country especially in the water sector and advocating for ocean conservation. My opportunities did not end there, I was also selected to attend the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit with Sustainable Ocean Alliance in Oslo, where we tackled issues such as building urban resilience against climate change as it relates to sea level rise and how this threatens our fresh water resources. Furthermore, I was successful in acquiring the position of the Media Intern at the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) annual conference held in St Kitts and Nevis. That internship allowed me to enhance my media skills and share on their social platforms all the issues and solutions in the region as it relates to the water and waste industry. These were all opportunities I obtained through Facebook posts.
Apart from my international opportunities, at home I have hosted several events and outreach programs to raise awareness about our water resources. For World Environment Day 2018, I hosted a Nationwide clean-up of all our waterfall and popular river hiking trails with the sole aim of keeping our freshwater bodies clean. Together with GWP Caribbean I also hosted a local Running Dry Event, in support of Mina Guli’s Running Dry Campaign 100 Marathons in 1 day to raise awareness for the global water crisis. I was then listed as one of Mina’s 100 water heroes across the world. This campaign was extremely impactful and highlighted the power of connectivity as Mina’s injury led to a global movement of people either running or walking as many miles as they choose, posting it on social media and sharing a water related fact. This not only raised awareness but educated others and inspired a community of water heroes to act.
The idea of using different forms of media to educate others about environmental issues has always been of keen interest to me. My studies have provided me with a plethora of information that compels me to inform others. I obtained my BSc from the University of the West Indies in Environmental and Natural Resource Management and Geography. Currently, I am pursuing my 2nd MSc in Climate Change and Development from the University of London and I hold a certificate of course completion from the University of Geneva in Integrated Water Resources Management.
My desire to inform others led to the creation of my company Ecovybz Environmental Creatives which focuses on creating different forms of content to educate all generations about environmental issues with water at the core. I have successfully been blogging for the past two years on www.ecovybz.blog and my aim is to continue to use media both traditional and non-traditional to educate, inspire and mobilise young people in my country to be eco-warriors.
Each of us are connected by social media and there are endless opportunities available, it is up to us to use this tool for positive environmental change and outreach. To the young people in my region I encourage you to seek these opportunities and make the most of it. I have witnessed first-hand the power of the youth in tackling various environmental issues and I am on a mission to create platforms and gateways for young people to be effective agents of change.
Do you have a good youth water story to share? Please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.