“Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

Cree Indian Prophecy

Climate change is real. The scientific reports and everyday happenings confirming this sad reality are damning and irrefutable. The debate on climate change is not whether it exists or not, but what we need to do to about it. Mauritius is a small island developing state, and all the more vulnerable to the threats of global warming and climate change.

We depend on our natural environment in so many ways: the fish in the lagoon represent the livelihoods of our fishermen brethren; our flawlessly sandy beaches and deep blue waters make tourists from all over the world flock to our island; our rich soil nourish the growth of sugarcane, fruits and vegetables which provide us with local produce, thus making us more self-sufficient in food production; and our rainforests supply us with adequate rainfall all year round. However, the effects of climate change could change all of that in the blink of an eye.

Already, the impacts of climate change are being sorely felt in several parts of the world, with unpredictable weather patterns having dire consequences such as hurricane Haiyan that recently devastated several areas of the Philippine and the earthquake that hit Japan and resulted in the Fukushima disaster. Low-lying islands are on the brink of getting submerged, such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, and Kirbati in the Pacific, whose President is considering buying up to 5,000 acres of land in order to relocate the 102,697 people that live in his country.

Elsewhere, there is desertification, loss of marine biodiversity and dwindling bouts of rainfall. In the face of all these events, it is frustrating to note that there is not enough awareness regarding the ways in which each one of us can play a role in abating the direct or indirect causes of climate change and global warming.

Raising awareness of grass root efforts at tackling climate change through mitigation and adaptation is a key component to addressing the issue. As young people, we strongly believe that youth in Mauritius should be given a platform and the means to express themselves about how they can positively contribute towards environmental conservation and reducing the effects of climate change. We are confident that with the right among of advice, support and encouragement, the youth of Mauritius have the potential to become more environmentally aware and gradually help in transforming the island into a greener and nature-friendly version.

The youth have the passion and willingness to be active participants and ambassadors of a clean and green Mauritius, but unfortunately, they are seldom equipped with adequate resources and tools to take that bold step towards sustainable thinking and living. It is hoped that in the future, the youth will be partners in the drive towards a climate-safe Mauritius.