By: Paula Lindo | January 5th, 2019
“The truth is, we’ve only got one world to live in, there is no Planet B. The environmental issues we now face have come onto mankind’s radar much more strongly in the last few decades than before and is therefore something which younger generations must consider now more greatly than past generations have. When we hear studies say that soon we may have ‘more plastic in the oceans than fish’, and that hurricanes like we saw in 2017 in the Caribbean may only get stronger and more frequent, and that the ocean may rise several feet in the next 50-100 years covering some ports and cities – it’s quite frankly negligent to think that it’s alright for us to ignore our environmental impacts, and leave such an unhealthy and unstable world for our children.”
Jonathan Barcant has a background in civil engineering, specialising in soils, water and the environment. He worked mainly on mining projects following graduation from McGill University, and was moved by greatly destructive projects causing massive environmental impact and rainforest and biodiversity loss. This inspired him to change his career direction to commit to environmental conservation and climate action. Barcant developed the Vetiver System which uses vetiver grass to build resilience to extreme weather in rural communities. He also is the Managing Director of IAMovement, an NGO which has been driving the civil society conversation on climate change in Trinidad.
In recognition of Barcant’s work, he received the Caribbean and the Americas Regional Award for Excellence in Development at the Commonwealth Youth Awards in 2018. He is also now a member of the Next Generation Board of the Inter-American Development Bank.
Barcant said he would like to see the government contribute to sustainable development in Trinidad and Tobago. “I think that developments in our digital space through some types of new public-participatory digital governance systems could allow the wider citizenry to voice positions on key issues our country faces, including the environment, which could help step up the pressure on both governmental and private sectors to take top-concern items more seriously. I have truly been amazed at some of the creativity, innovation, genius and desire to help that I’ve seen among the youth and wider public in Trinidad and Tobago over the last few years, and I would love to see a platform (or several) become available for these people, organisations and the greater public in general to speak out and work from.”
He also called on the private sector to become more involved in social entrepreneurship, as it is often more innovative and agile than the public sector. “Social entrepreneurship means creating successful, profitable business, which simultaneously has key positive social and environmental impacts. As the movement towards ‘green and sustainability’ grows, the private sector could become true innovators in this area, by greening their work places, work streams, energy savings through efficiency, reducing and recycling waste. These transitions could even take place by inviting greater participation and involvement of staff to assist in this process, which could also lead towards a shift which sustains itself into the future given a more inclusive approach from which it was created.”
Barcant said young people are becoming more aware, excited and engaged in trying new things, including “NGO/non-profit approaches, to excellent development ideas which the government should consider more strongly, to great-for-profit business initiatives as well. Given that the youth are our future and environmental care is the next greatest challenges of our time, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago could play a major role in helping this movement by supporting it – purchasing local, purchasing green, supporting new ideas and efforts and helping to lift them up – and perhaps most importantly by being vocal, to our business and public leaders in saying that the world is moving in this direction, and this is the way Trinidad and Tobago must go as well.”