Angelique Pouponneau, 27-year-old environmental lawyer from the Seychelles. She holds the position of vice-chairperson for inclusion and engagement of the Commonwealth Youth Council. Angelique is passionate about sustainability. In 2014, she co-founded a youth-led non-governmental organisation, SYAH-Seychelles, which provides a platform for young people to advance and promote sustainability through youth-led projects. To date the biggest achievements has been the successful campaign for the ban of plastic bags in the Seychelles and the implementation of the Blue Economy Internship Programme.
For her work, she was recognised as a Queen’s Young Leader in 2016.
ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE AND LIFE BELOW WATER THROUGH ENTERPRISE
By Angelique Pouponneau
This paper serves as an overview of the 10 minutes presentation I delivered at the World Conference of Youth in Belize in November 2017 where I spoke in the session on eradicating poverty in a changing world.
We are indeed living in a changing world, and more accurately in a time of adaptation where we are faced with some of the most pressing challenges of our time which include both climate change and the health of the ocean. In brief, with warming temperatures, there has been evident impacts in changes in climate and weather patterns. In this region alone, we have seen an increase in the frequency and strength of tropical cyclones and hurricanes. The warming temperatures have also meant melting of the Arctic ice caps that had led to rise in sea levels posing an existential threat to island nations such as Maldives and Tuvalu. But we have Paris which signaled hope for an agreement that would seek to save the planet through the contributions of each member State to reduce and cut its carbon emissions. Similarly, the health of the ocean, SDG 14 life below water, is continuously threatened by illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, marine pollution and climate change itself. The latest UN report that shocked the international community was that by 2050 there will be plastic than fish in the sea. Nevertheless, there is a re-energised focus on oceans and the development of the Blue Economy which could lead to healthier oceans.
Most people who are passionate about the environment engage in climate activism through advocacy, educational workshops and cost-effective climate action such as tree-planting. But what about using enterprise to address the challenges of climate change and threats to the ocean. This paper offers three options:
Option one: ‘Greening’ Traditional Business
There are many businesses that currently exist that have a big carbon footprint (and here, I do not refer to the coal, oil or natural gas industries). Let’s take the number of office spaces or hotels as countries move away from primary industry to secondary and tertiary industries, how can their carbon footprints be reduced? There are a few ideas such as ensuring that there are water dispensers in the workplace to stop the use of plastic bottles (which take decades to degrade and some do not at all), the use of recycled paper, placing solar panels or creating gardens on the roofs of these buildings or simply turning lights off after working hours.
For hotels, there could be many ways to ‘green’ their business by not using straws, encouraging guests to be environmentally conscious when it comes to the use of lights or the washing of their towels. Additionally, encouraging their guests not to use products that have microbeads or the sunscreen which is detrimental to the marine creatures. Or, perhaps, providing a space where their guests can plant trees to offset their carbon footprint.
Option 2: New Business Ideas
The US Labour Department recently released a report with the following statistic: 65% of students today will be doing jobs that do not yet exist. Today we have an opportunity to begin new businesses that did not previously exist to address climate change and the ocean. I’d like to point to a few business ideas that emerged and are helping to address climate change and oceans.
Then, there is the cheeky way! If you are more of an advocate and campaigner then that is your starting point to make your business happen. Start a campaign to ban plastic bags, get the ban then start a business that reintroduces local alternatives such as offering classes to make your own reusable bags, importing reusable bags to supply shops and hotels.
Despite all these great ideas, there is always a need for the right enabling environment to exist, so here are a few examples of schemes in place that would encourage such enterprises.
For more ideas on eco-businesses, check out this website: http://www.eco-business.com/videos/how-young-people-are-tackling-climate-change-through-innovative-business/