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Making environmental awareness ‘cool’
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Making environmental awareness ‘cool’

Lalita Gopaul, one of the 2020 Commonwealth Youth Awards finalists, does not mind getting some dirt under her fingernails. As founder and CEO of Eco Club in the Guyana, she is passionate about educating young people about environmental conservation and protection. Promise Forsuh, a 23-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent from Bamenda, Cameroon, caught up with the eco-warrior to find out how her work is also boosting production and improving livelihoods in the face of climate change.

With climate change and food security two of the biggest challenges in the 21st century, it is refreshing to see young people creating environmental awareness, providing solutions and engaging future generations.

This year, Lalita was among 16 finalists for the Commonwealth Youth Awards. She was nominated for her work which contributed to Climate Action, which is Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13.

An environmental sustainability activist and researcher by profession, her research work covers eco-friendly agricultural methods, clean energy solutions and green technologies for her community in Guyana.

Growing up in a farming family and a forest community nursed Lalita’s dreams and love for nature and conservation.

 “I’d say I started to make an impact on others and my country in the field of climate action around 2014 at the age of 18,” she said.

Now, as founder of the Eco Club, Lalita mentors young people and runs activities which educate them on the environment. The club also runs coastal clean-up activities, tree planting sessions and climate-action walks.

Her work has educated more than 100 farmers in the country to adopt more sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming methods to boost production and improve livelihoods in a changing climate.

Lalita preparing samples for eco friendly agri techniques research

Lalita also works on research and development on the use of solar energy to power irrigation systems as well as on Guyana’s bio-energy potential.

As a researcher at the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute, green technologies fall under her portfolio.

“Some of my work includes research on converting rice husks, bi-products from sugar production, waste from saw milling operations and animal waste from farms to energy,” Lalita said.

Introducing her technologies to farmers alongside her work mentoring and educating young people over the past three years has not been easy.

“The challenging part was implementation– because sometimes solutions look great on paper, but then translating into reality is a different issue,” she said.

Planting trees during World Environment Day

Dozens of young people between the ages of 16 and 22 have benefitted from the Eco Club and the environmental awareness it helps create. More are still benefitting and yet to benefit.

“I believe that young people are the future and people like me will not be the ones making decisions in the near future,” Lalita said, explaining why she is so passionate about passing on environmental consciousness to the next generation.

Drawing inspiration from some of Guyana’s best-known environmentalists Dr. Oudho Homenauth and Dr. Clairmont Clementson, Lalita’s work was recognized nationally in 2019 through the National Youth Award in Environmental Conservation and Protection.

She is hoping to extend her environmental mentorship activities globally to encourage more young people to take the lead in championing climate action.

Her words of encouragement? “I believe the younger generation comes with fresh ideas and they just need to be given that extra push so that they can execute those brilliant ideas.”

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The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work highlight the contributions of young people who are making a difference in their communities and celebrate their contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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About me: I am a graduate with a first degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from National Polytechnic University Institute Bamenda. My ambition is to become a celebrity journalist or a great Public and International Relations Practitioner. I am interested in writing for both print and broadcast, not only doing journalistic writing, but fiction as well. Presently, I work as a volunteer for SOPECAM as a journalist in my country.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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