The following statement was released by Minister of Home Affairs, Walter Roban, at a news conference held this afternoon (October 28)…

You will recall my October 13 invitation to our young students to share their thoughts on the issue of climate change with an international audience. I set out a challenge to students 18 years of age and younger to submit written pieces up to 100 words, picture and graphic, or video up to 60 seconds on one of the following topics:

  • Biodiversity
  • Marine Environment
  • Land Sustainability
  • Climate Resilience or
  • Emissions.

The winners would be considered for inclusion in the message that I would take from Bermuda to the upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow Scotland.

While we would have liked for there to be an overflow of submissions, I recognize that during this time, schools both private and public, are in home learning experiencing challenges with providing ongoing structured education to our students. The impact on our students and their resilience to overcome is not taken lightly by any of us in the government. And I wish to take this opportunity to recognize the effort of our Bermuda school students in overcoming the challenges they have faced with their education and living through the pandemic and thus submitting creating pieces for this contest might have been a challenge expressing their thoughts on the issue of climate change.

But I now have the pleasure of publicly announcing the two winners of the competition, 14-year-old Katya Williams of Warwick Academy and 12-year-old Gabriella Cabral of Dellwood Middle School.

Ms Williams voiced her frustrations of humanity’s negative impact on the environment by submitting a written piece on our marine environment. She identified it as a home to billions of creatures and it’s potential as an essential source of energy and medicine.

Ms Cabral also spoke about the marine environment by submitting a PowerPoint presentation that touched on how it affects humans and the impact on global warming. Many are familiar with the saying a picture speaks a thousand words. In the production were photos depicting the harmful effects of humankind on marine life.

I wish to congratulate both of these young ladies for winning the competition. Our young people have emerged as a strong voice in the global environmental movement, and this government will give them every opportunity to be heard.

While on the topic of climate change and our environment, I wish to highlight and update the public on the Ministry of Home Affairs’ activities focused on educating and informing the public on several issues.

First and foremost is the ongoing consultation on regulating single-use plastics in Bermuda, which has seen many members of the public share their comments, suggestions or concerns on the planned timetable and scope of the proposed legislation. If you have not had the opportunity to review the information and share your views, it is not too late; however, you have only until October 31 to do so. In alignment with this consultation, the Ministry is publicly communicating several tips on how to reduce our dependency on single-use plastics.

One of the tips and something that I do when ordering takeout to eat at home is to ask the restaurant to skip the bag, condiments, napkins, and plastic utensils. If everyone did this one act, that certainly would start to make a difference.

Also, this month the team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have been holding live radio Question and answer sessions every week to educate and inform the public on many important environmental issues, including:

  • Why Shipwrecks Matter
  • Reef and water quality
  • Bermuda’s recovery of endangered species
  • Pelagic fishery and the protection of sharks
  • Bermuda’s response to climate change and the expected impact on air quality
  • Protected species preservation
  • Plant protection, and
  • Seagrass preservation

I want to thank all involved for contributing to these worthwhile discussions that share vital information about our environment and addressing climate change with the public is important to our plans and journey to COP26.

With all that said and the student submissions in hand, I look forward to representing Bermuda as Chair of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association, by way of our London Office, at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Held next week in Glasgow, Scotland, I will showcase all of the Association work and all of its Overseas Territory members’ work in tackling climate change and protecting our unique marine and terrestrial environments.

As the highlight of Bermuda’s involvement in COP26, in the UK Pavilion during COP26, Nature Day will be on November 6, and I will lead an event entitled ”Our Vision for Healthy Oceans”. The event will be thematically focused on raising awareness, protecting our oceans and how the Overseas Territories are taking action against climate change. Also, throughout the day, a video collaboration of all the Overseas Territories will be featured on the COP26 YouTube channel with Bermuda first and foremost. A link will be provided to the public for all to enjoy the two week event.