Meet Priyanka Lalla, a student in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, who is strongly passionate about promoting the rights of children and has single-handedly organized several national advocacy campaigns on issues such as child sexual abuse and the environment. She's a UNICEF Eastern Caribbean youth ambassador.
My name is Priyanka. I am 14 years old and I live in the beautiful twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, situated at the southernmost part of the chain of islands of the Caribbean.
I have always considered myself lucky to live in a tropical climate where we enjoy warm weather year-round. We can go out and enjoy being in nature whenever we wish. I think I took this privilege for granted until the devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit in 2017 causing widespread destruction in several islands of the region.
These islands that were hardest hit include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Anguilla, St Martin/St Maarten, the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. At the age of 11, it was such a wake-up call for me. I could never have imagined such devastation, and I felt that I needed to take a stand to ensure that my beautiful part of the world would not suffer the adverse consequences of climate change.
I grew up believing that we live in a safe and happy place and nothing could harm the lush forests, tranquil waters, unique flora and fauna and our abundance of juicy tropical fruits. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, then Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which hit the Bahamas, demonstrated that this gift of nature could be easily taken away from us.
At 10 years old, so even before the 2017 hurricanes, I was asking my friends to stop using plastic as I was concerned about the animals in the ocean but my journey on adapting to climate change began with Hurricane Irma. Until today, it drives everything I do as I am continuously thinking of what I can do to change the way I live.
I live by and promote the Zero Waste way of life. I hope to make my country and the Caribbean develop a circular economy.
The Earth is our home and it is up to us to protect it. While there are many inventions and forms of technology being created to address climate change, all it takes is our effort in little things that we do every day. Where do you buy your products? What can you do as a consumer to promote more sustainable practices? What alternative changes can you implement to create a healthier lifestyle for you, your family and the environment? It starts with us asking these questions. Asking these questions forces us to find answers.
Everyone reading this is the answer. We have the power to adapt and to save our planet. Our actions affect our planet.
Therefore, It is up to us to take responsibility for the only home we have. We need to ask ourselves, what can we do to preserve our planet for future generations. How can we live in harmony with nature? We, children and youth, are the agents for change and each of us has something to say and the right to say it and more importantly, it is our responsibility to take action now. So, let’s do this together. Let us use our voices to connect and let our actions change the world.
You can learn more about Priyanka's activism on Instagram.