From September 8 – 10, Cari-Bois’ first cohort of youth journalists covered The Cropper Foundation and Journal of CESaRE’s 2023 Gen Z Climate Conference. This latest piece published under Cari-Bois’ I WANT TO BE AN ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTER project was written by Keira Hinds.
In a virtual round-table discussion on the second day of The Cropper Foundation and Journal of CESaRE’s Gen Z Climate Conference, experts shared their views on why communication, collaboration, and mentorship are all important aspects of any sustainable movement for change.
Despite working in different fields, each expert shared why the above-mentioned principles have been instrumental in the work they do and have helped expand their causes to a wider audience.
Vandana Mangroo: “You are not an expert in everything”
A seasoned entrepreneur, Vandana Mangroo started a sustainable company called Hello Green in 2016.
Apart from being one of the first companies in the Caribbean to distribute certified compostable packaging, the company has also participated in a number of consultations across the region in an effort to guide policy to ensure a strategic transition away from single-use plastics.
Whether someone is a budding entrepreneur or advocating for a specific issue, Mangroo said it is important for people to consult other experts in that field especially if there is a need to get more insight on a specific subject matter.
Being self-aware that “you are not an expert in everything,” often leads one to being open-minded to gaining new knowledge which is beneficial to personal and professional growth.
When she first conceptualised Hello Green, Mangroo said the idea of compostable packaging and products was still gaining traction in the region.
But with the support of a team and opening herself to learning more about the industry, she has been able to grow the company over the years.
Akil Callender: collaboration opens doors
An energy and environmental reform activist, Akil Callender is currently a Youth Specialist at the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) organisation which has partnered with multiple institutions – including the United Nations – to advance the use of renewable energy.
Highlighting that he has already collaborated with Mangroo on several projects, Callender further explained he was able to build many networks through similar collaborative efforts with other experts in the field of sustainable development.
Over the years, those networks have been key to him getting many opportunities to be in spaces and part of discussions to drive action on renewable energy use.
Callender said that strategic goal planning is also another critical part of a person’s journey.
While one may not necessarily know where they’ll be in five to ten years, he stressed the importance of at least having a sense of direction to help recognise opportunities which can be pivotal in one’s personal and professional development.
If needed, Callender recommends that young people seek mentorship as it has been helpful to his journey.
Lawrence Arjoon: Youths should seek opportunities to be mentored
As Chief Executive Officer of the Heroes Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago, Lawrence Arjoon has been working to promote youth leadership, call for greater inclusion of youths in the decision-making process and seek collaboration with organisations who may have similar interests.
Given “it takes a village to raise a child,” Arjoon believes any efforts to advance youth development must be a collaborative one and that there must be sufficient communication between organisations to continue identifying gaps in youth development efforts.
Arjoon also encouraged young people to seek out mentorship opportunities with organisations like the Heroes Foundation.