Caribbean News Service interviews Lia Nicholson on her involvement in the Caribbean, her interests, and issues related to the environment in the Caribbean, particularly Antigua and Barbuda, where she is based. Here are a few excerpts; please see the full interview in the link below:
Lia Nicholson, is a Project Coordinator at the Environment Division, Antigua & Barbuda. She has always been interested in the environment, and started at an early age with outdoor adventures along the coasts of Antigua. After starting college in the biology track, Lia soon transitioned from research to an environmental policy major with a focus on applied studies. Environmental management is, after all, about managing people and behaviors. In 2012, Lia enrolled in a Masters programme at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where she studied the effects of climate change, focusing on impacts to coastal zones, with a view to applying this knowledge in the Caribbean. After graduating in May 2014, Lia returned to Antigua & Barbuda as a Gruber Fellow in Global Justice and Women’s Rights, to put theory to practice. Partnering with the Environment Division, the objective of the collaboration is to restore the ecological functioning of ghut (seasonal watercourse) drainage, to reduce the risks of severe flooding in low-income communities – where many people do not have funds to build proper housing, buy insurance, or recover from repeated destruction.
What do you love most about the Caribbean? I love the ocean. Learning to free dive brought this love affair to a new level; I can spend all day exploring the coral reefs and deep waters. I was given an underwater camera, which has pushed me to go further, trying to get the perfect shot of a flamingo tongue snail or a banded coral shrimp. I try to teach young kids to swim as much as possible, as I regret that many Antiguans & Barbudans do not venture into our waters, for which people travel to from all over the world. After all, we do have about 90 times more ocean territory than we have land, so there is a lot to explore. [. . .]
What is on your perennial to-do list? Raise funds for the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), a local non-profit that was founded over 25 years ago. The EAG was my first real job out of college in 2009, when I was hired as executive director. I learned many skills during my year in this position – financial audits, how to tag racer snakes with microchips, grant writing. I want to support the organisation’s growth so it can provide opportunities to young, aspiring environmentalists, and also to be more effective in the work it does. [. . .]
Who are your Caribbean heroes? I’m proud of our contemporary Caribbean literary stars, Jamaica Kincaid, Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul, who shed light with honest portrayals on Caribbean culture in all its dimensions. Their works have captured the imaginations of the international community, who may otherwise think of these islands as simply sun, sea and sand. Mr. Biswas’ challenges in post-colonial Trinidad and Kincaid’s insider-outsider narrative of Antiguan family life are just some examples of their many rich insights. [. . .]
What would you want to say to the Caribbean about any one of these: Agriculture, Arts & Culture, Climate Change, HIV/AIDS, Tourism? Climate change is an interesting and complex challenge. Although a long-term problem, climate change makes it urgent that we adapt our short-term actions to address the major environmental and social issues of today, and in this way is an opportunity to improve lives, here and now. ‘Mitigation’ looks at how we can address the source of the problem, in this case carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. Burning cleaner fuels, for example, can improve air quality and health. About half of our emissions in Antigua & Barbuda come from the transport sector, mostly single-person vehicles, so we need to look at why we are spending so much time driving. Studies also show that in car-dependent cultures, health problems like obesity and respiratory illnesses are more probable. Solving this problem, the national zoning plan restricts sub-divisions to designated ‘settlement’ areas, to encourage people to live in communities where basic needs are more accessible via walking distance or a short drive. Designated development areas also make services like electricity and water cheaper and more reliable for the government to provide. This is an example of win-win climate solutions, where we benefit in the short and long term.
For full article, see http://caribbeannewsservice.com/climate-change/353-one-on-one-with-lia-nicholson