Activists to sail Atlantic to address climate change

Steff Mcdermot and Megan Ehman at the 'Sail for Climate Change' fundraiser at Red Sail Sports on 6 Feb. - Photo: Carolina Lopez

Two young activists from Cayman, Steff Mcdermot and Megan Ehman, are getting ready to sail across the Atlantic to collaborate with other countries on finding sustainable solutions to climate change.

‘Sail for Climate Change’ is a project in which activists from Latin America and Europe participate in a journey from Cartagena, Colombia, to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Following the trip, they will attend a UN climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, in June.

Mcdermot, 19, who is the Caribbean coordinator for the project, celebrated the initiative with a sunset sail send-off fundraiser at Red Sail Sports on Thursday, 6 Feb. She said the local sail was held to raise funds for Caribbean delegates, like Ehman, to attend the global event.

“Since we’re all overseas territories, I feel like us doing this European tour in the middle of Brexit is going to help form partnerships or a bond with these European countries, and I feel like that’s going to be valuable in the future,” Mcdermot said.

The ship is due to stop at some Caribbean destinations during the voyage, before heading to Europe and arriving in the Netherlands in mid-April. They will visit six European countries on the trip. Mcdermot said during the stops, the activists will be speaking to politicians, ministers, business leaders and others, and representing Cayman any chance they get.

“Representing Cayman at each of these places, they’re going to know where we’re coming from. When we speak to them, we’re going to say we’re from the Cayman Islands, so when we’re being interviewed by the Portuguese press, for example, they will know who we are if they want to collaborate with us,” Mcdermot said.

Ehman, 20, said the contingent on board the 144-foot, three-mast schooner Regina Maris will not only be getting to know each other during the voyage, but they would also be learning about different countries’ climate issues.

“I’m excited to learn about all these countries, some of which I’ve never heard of before, and see how they are different from Cayman,” Ehman said.

Mcdermot, whose trip is being funded by the Cayman Islands government, added, “Cayman is very globalised already and we are already a global leader, but this trip has given Cayman an opportunity to own something else, which is sustainability in the region.”

She believes that working with different countries and talking about Cayman’s initiatives can promote the islands, and give the participants an opportunity to find out what other places are doing to address climate change and sustainability issues.

“It’s understanding what they’ve done and what works for them, including their recycling efforts and lifestyle changes, and figuring out how we can implement that programme in Cayman,” she said.

Mcdermot is set to depart Monday, 10 Feb., as she is part of a core team of five organising logistics and stocking the ship; the official kick-off of the Sail for Climate Change is Thursday, 20 Feb.