After a massive storm devastated St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) late last year, 1994 Goldman Prize winner Andrew Simmons returned to his island home to assist with the disaster relief effort and educate locals about climate change’s particularly harsh impact on small island communities.
Simmons was awarded the Prize in 1994 for spearheading a community-based environmental movement in SVG by establishing JEMS, a volunteer community development organization that uses literacy and skills programs to motivate communities to protect the island’s natural resources.
Simmons, who is now based in the UK, traveled to SVG during February and March of 2014. During that time he volunteered with the relief program set up by JEMS. He also partnered with the SVG Red Cross, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and the Lion’s Club.
Together with these groups, Simmons distributed food, clothes, books and school supplies to families affected by the storm. He also initiated a series of training workshops to educate people about climate change and its impact on small island communities.
“These workshops were implemented in schools and communities that were affected by the storm and are vulnerable to climate change impact in the future. They were well attended and aimed at raising the awareness of people on the impact of climate change and providing them with the skills and strategies to reduce the impact of climate change in their own communities,” Simmons described.
Simmons’s workshops were also discussed on three international radio talk show programs, which generated media attention across the globe.
Thanks to his awareness-building efforts, the SVG government decided to allocate over a million dollars in national budgeting to support a national tree planting program and to create a new senior public service post of Climate Change Officer. This person will manage a team of professionals with responsibility for development and implementing the country’s climate change policies and programs.
1994 Goldman Prize winner Andrew Simmons with a young activist.
Disaster relief supplies waiting to be distributed.
Students listening to a lecture about climate change's impact on island communities.
Andrew Simmons and group of volunteers delivering disaster relief supplies to locals.