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An investigation of the lived experiences of youth in Jamaica and their response to climate change engagement

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posted on 23.11.2020, 09:26 by Dainalyn Swaby
Lived experiences of Jamaican youth play a significant role in how they make meaning of climate change. Despite evidence of strong local knowledge of climate change issues and relevance of place attachment, maladaptive attitudes towards climate action undermines widescale community-based responses from youth. This study conducted 18 interviews with young people and climate change related organisations to explore underlying factors that lead to gaps in climate change responsiveness. The study revealed longstanding barriers to youth participation such as tokenistic youth engagement and limited financial capacity to implement climate solutions in communities. Critical perspectives on behalf a vulnerable community spotlighted the disadvantaged position of deaf youth in climate participation stemming mainly from overt communication barriers and relatively limited inclusion opportunities.
The study highlights fragmented yet encouraging examples of youth’s execution of climate related projects at the community and national level. Nonetheless peer and institutional perspectives endorse youths’ influence, leadership capabilities and adroitness of communication technologies to change the face of climate change communication. The nascent, dutiful climate activism (O’brien, Selboe and Hayward, 2018) in Jamaica is a harbinger of the immense potential of this demographic mounting robust responses to counteract climate change in localised contexts.

Findings are presented through a communication for social change lens to demonstrate capacity of youth to be mobilisers of change and enhance resilience structures in places of vested personal interest. Patterns in youth engagement reveal opportunities to capitalise on the dynamic communication landscape and youth’s sensitivity to community and cultural norms to build out processes for participation. A proposal is advanced for the creation of a dialogic communication structure that engages both online and offline modalities to translate into community impact. This also presents opportunities for youth living outside of native communities to collaborate with current residents and other stakeholders to address climate challenges.



  • Loughborough University London