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My Job, My Home, My Responsibility

Updated: Mar 13, 2021

By Kendra Beazer

At the 2020 Virtual Island Summit, an online conference hosted by Island Innovation, the world was able to learn from four young professionals who are leading conservation initiatives from their small island, big ocean nations around the globe. Each ocean advocate brought a unique perspective on how to engage the next generation in protecting the ocean.

Watch the recording:

Kendra Beazer is from Barbuda, one of two islands of the nation Antigua & Barbuda, and has worked for years to protect the unique and lush environment of the 61.99 square mile island. As the youngest sitting member on the Barbuda Council, Mr. Beazer worked as the Chairman of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries, and Coastal Protection, and was recognized by One Young World with the Mary Robinson Climate Justice Award. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Management - International Business from the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus and is currently pursuing his masters degree in Environmental Policy and Law.

“What happens when we ignore the universal messages and continue business as usual? For me, climate change was always scientific talk, until I experienced firsthand the Category 5++ hurricane, Hurricane Irma, that hit my home, Barbuda, in 2017. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. We encountered many losses; homes, jobs, livelihoods, communication, access to water, and so much more.

In Barbuda, our sea has always been essential to our survival, and our development, through the shipment of conch, lobster, and other exports, not to mention a critical aspect of our culture and wellbeing. After the hurricane, the livelihoods of Barbudans were decimated. And we know the threat is not over - because of climate change, the very existence of people in this small developing island state is now in serious jeopardy.

In part due to the pandemic and natural disasters around the world, people from the continents are realizing that climate change is not something far off in the future, it’s here now. But for those of us living in small island states, climate change has been here for some time. Despite our comparatively tiny contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions, we are the ones bearing the brunt of the impacts from the crisis.

Presently in Barbuda, you’re seeing nature rebounding. But there’s still a lot of work to do - people are still grappling with the day-to-day struggles, like access to housing and freshwater, from the impacts of the hurricane three years later. There is still a long way to go to get our people back on their feet. In order to build back better, we must diversify our economy. In order to do so, building a strong and sustainable blue economy will be critical.

As a member of the Barbudan Council and part of the Blue Halo Barbuda initiative, I met with stakeholders, private & public sectors, fisherfolk, and policy makers to make a plan to address this Blue Economic growth. Together with the Fisheries Division and NGO partners like Barbudan Go, we have made incredible progress to rebuilding our economy and environment: We brought lobster exports back online after critical delays from the hurricane, we restored our patrol boat, and increased training to monitor and enforce MPAs. The Fisheries division also launched a 6-month internship program to bring more young people onboard to build capacity and passion for the unique natural wonders of our small island. Barbuda also became the leading Blue Prosperity Coalition site by protecting 30% of its ocean. If this can happen in Barbuda, it can happen anywhere else.

We are strong people and we are strong enough to weather any storm going forward. We must combine our efforts and support each other toward the good of all mankind in the pursuit of health, safety, equity, and prosperity. We need to work toward the day when our ocean resources can be used without being used up.

What keeps me going is my belief in Barbuda and the limitless amount of opportunities that exist here. I remember the goal and the vision. This is my country. It owes me a living. It is my duty to do the heavy lifting - no one is going to do it for me. I always remember - it’s your home, it’s your job, it’s your responsibility.”

Watch the recording:

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