Young Caymanian to Represent All UK Overseas Territories at UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)
Dejea Lyons will join ‘Oceans Panel’ as UKOT Student Representative in Glasgow, Scotland
The Ministry for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency (SCR) are working with eighteen-year-old, Dejea Lyons as she prepares for her upcoming participation in the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Dejea Lyons has been selected as a student representative for all the UK Overseas Territories (UKOT) and will speak on an ‘Oceans Panel’ at the global conference.
The Premier and Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency, the Honourable G. Wayne Panton said, “I congratulate Dejea Lyons for being chosen to represent the Cayman Islands and all of the UK Overseas Territories at the Oceans Panel on Nature Day at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. I feel confident in knowing that Dejea Lyons is carrying the torch for our three islands. Dejea has demonstrated a passion for our environment in the Cayman Islands, as do I as Premier and Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency; a Ministry that is dedicated to a sustainable and healthy environment for our future generations.”
COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled to take place from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow, Scotland. Dr. Tasha Ebanks-Garcia from the Cayman Islands’ Government office in London, serves as the official contact to COP26 and has explained more about the conference.
“COP26 is a vital platform for world leaders to inspire and action strategy to confront climate change. The Cayman Islands’ participation in this year’s conference will further demonstrate our country’s commitment to strengthening relationships with global partners, and advancing our individual and collective focus on protecting our marine biodiversity and terrestrial environments to allay the impacts of climate change”, explained Dr. Ebanks-Garcia.
Dr. Ebanks-Garcia initially reached out to the National Trust of the Cayman Islands for their guidance and selection of youth ambassadors. Dejea Lyons and Isabella Watler were awarded the opportunity to attend the conference. Dejea was subsequently chosen to participate as a panelist.
“For the National Trust, Dejea is an inspiration reminding all of us that change comes when we are bold and willing to stand for what is important to our very survival, as rapid climate change can and will challenge our survival as small island states. Dejea’s selection is momentous. Well done to her and all the Youth Ambassadors!” added Annick Jackman, Director of the National Trust.
Dejea Lyons was born and raised in Grand Cayman. She attended Prospect Primary and Clifton Hunter High, then graduated from the Cayman International School (CIS) in May 2021. The young activist is currently on an academic scholarship from the Ministry of Education, pursuing studies in Global Development and Sustainability at Bath Spa University in the UK. Dejea has an extensive track record of academic and extracurricular accomplishments. During her tenure at CIS, she served as Vice President of ‘Protect Our Future’ honing in on her passion for the environment, championing various community initiatives.
Dejea Lyons expressed, “Since discovering my passion for the environment, I have been actively researching climate change and the impact that it will have on small island nations such as ours. Sadly however, once I became aware of these effects, I quickly came to realize that hypotheses made by scientists have started to become a reality for our islands. This includes beach erosion, coral bleaching, stronger hurricanes and more. Witnessing these events occur, has only fueled my passion to help strengthen Cayman’s resilience against climate change, not only for myself, but for the future generations to come. This is why I am extremely thrilled to have the opportunity to represent the United Kingdom Overseas Territories at COP26. Not only will I be able to inform others on what the Cayman Islands has been doing to alleviate the impacts of climate change on our community but I will be able to listen and learn from experts and political leaders globally about their methods of resolving this global issue.”
Dejea is currently preparing for her debut on the Oceans panel which is titled, “Our Vision for Healthy Oceans – Raising awareness, protecting our oceans and taking climate change action in the Overseas Territories”. Subject-area experts from the Ministry (SCR), the National Trust and the Department of Environment (DoE), have played key roles in Dejea’s preparations.
DoE Director, Gina Ebanks-Petrie added, “I was thrilled to meet with Dejea over Zoom to discuss some of the challenges and strategies we’ve been considering as a Government to tackle climate change, and offer the support of the DoE as she prepares for COP26. Having young people’s perspectives is integral to the global conversation on climate change because it is literally their future that we hold in our hands. It was wonderful to meet such an intelligent young woman, passionate about making a difference. We wish her the best of luck as she meets with like-minded, global, peers and we look forward to learning what may come out of those discussions.”
Hon. G. Wayne Panton expressed equal excitement about the young Caymanian’s accomplishment, further adding, “I am so very proud that Dejea is standing up, speaking out and demanding that the world acts to secure her future and those to come for her Cayman Islands and our sister United Kingdom Overseas Territories. Dejea will make an excellent ambassador when she represents us and other OTs at COP26.”
The panel will take place on Saturday, 6 November at 11:00-11:45AM (GMT +1). The Cayman Islands Government will update the public about the availability of a live stream link access in due course.
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Submitted by: Ministry of Sustainability & Climate Resiliency (SCR, CIG)