Impact of climate change on youth in small island communities: The case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Building the resilience of youth to adapt to the impact of climate change is a significant development challenge faced by policymakers in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Climate Change is already impacting negatively on youth and their communities, their enterprises and their overall wellbeing, especially in locations exposed to seasonally intense climatic events. Little progress has been made in the last two decades on how to systemically reduce vulnerability in the broader context of human and environmental systems. Minimal understanding is known on the youth perspective of climate change. This knowledge gap denies policymakers and practitioners effective climate change education and adaptation strategy implementations in preparation for youth resilience against the impacts of future climate changes. The research explores the knowledge deficit between that which is known and that which is necessary for young people to enhance local resilience to climate change. Primary data was collected through interviews with sixteen policymakers, focus group discussions with eleven youth-related organisations, participatory mapping and case studies. Theories around youth development, education and training for climate adaptation in SIDS were reviewed and implemented in the development of a framework assessing the vulnerability of youths living in small island communities. The research explores the strategic effectiveness of actions within the context of top-down vs bottom-up approaches. The framework provides policymakers with a toolkit to enhance youth resilience capacity in SIDS to create sustainable livelihoods in SID communities. The study confirms notions that youth have been neglected in climate change schemes, having inadequate knowledge and skills to adapt to climate changes affecting them. Findings support the added value of the bottom-up approach compared to the use of the top-down method within the framework to improve youth practicality and awareness. Added value can be gained when using a hybrid top-down and bottom-up approach (refer to the definition of terms on pg. xi-xiii). Findings also highlight key change enablers such as technological innovation, financial and technical resource support, key officials’ engagement, conducive policy/organisational environment and regional collaborations for youth empowerment in adapting to climate change in SIDS. The outcomes of the research discussed with key stakeholders in St. Vincent and the Grenadines found the framework applicable for Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) on the island. Therefore, based on the similarities of SIDS, this may encourage the application of the framework in other SIDS contexts and environments. Overall, the findings fill a gap in the literature on youth and CCA in SIDS. The framework would encourage further research potential in impact assessment and adaptation areas.
- PhD