Meet Dizzanne Billy from Trinidad and Tobago



Dizzanne Billy is a young environmental leader from Trinidad and Tobago. From the age of fourteen, she has been actively involved in environmental work. She is affiliated with Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN). Though the network, she has been continually educating other young people on the importance of environmentalism in achieving sustainable development. She is also a graduate student at University of West Indies.

What is your motivation in water sector?

Water scarcity is one of the most serious resource issues in the world today and it is not isolated to the poor and impoverished nations. Water plays a pivotal role in the survival of mankind and affects a country’s capacity for development. The problem must not go understated. If proper policy is not formulated and implemented immediately, the pending water crisis could occur sooner than we think. As small developing island states, the countries of the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable. My motivation comes from this vulnerability, and lies in the possibility of working towards better policy formation as this is the major tool for effective water resource management.

What project/campaign/work related to water sector you are leading (or you have lead)?

Through my involvement in CYEN, I have been instrumental in developing and carrying out a range of projects and campaigns. One of them is the “Adopt-A-River Programme” which aims to educate the public about the issues and challenges in two watersheds in Trinidad and Tobago – Arima in Trinidad and Courland in Tobago. Through the Water and Sewage Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, CYEN proposes to highlight these issues but also to introduce the water life cycle and to finally develop document with the needs and concerns of the residents of the Arima valley. The project involves the production of a water related film documentary from a youth perspective in order to attract young people, between the ages of 12-25, to become more aware of the challenges and issues related to water while also getting their opinions heard. Activism will occur at different levels; and through media we will reach a vast majority of people. Our message will be disseminated through social media but also through schools and eventually from the mouths of the youth to their parents.

What are your success, failures and learning?

As the famous writer, Emily Dickinson wrote “the entirety of our lives consists of a series of moments”.  Indeed, there are some good moments and some learning. And these experiences make us better person.

I have learned that motivating and involving young people can have instrumental impact in project outcome. I implemented Junior Upcyclers Project with CYEN, an educational and awareness campaign educating and involving young students and it was a huge success. I also recently launched online magazine ‘ECO Life’ bringing to the fore issues concerning water management and Small Island Developing States alongside other environmental issues. I am receiving good feedback on it. And, any negative experience, I try to turn into a learning experience. One thing I have learned is the pivotal role of government buy-in, networking and institutional support, which plays an extremely influential role in the success of projects, especially in the environmental arena. Also, the importance of taking initiative in order to see change happen and remaining focused.

What do you think is greatest water related challenge in your region and how can it be addressed?

Water-related issues vary widely across the Caribbean region. However, some major challenges that affect the region are water scarcity, poor water quality, climate change and inappropriate legislation frameworks. Due to climate change, the region is experiencing and will continue to experience, less rainfall which directly leads to less availability of water. Dry countries will become dryer and will be faced with higher rates of water stress. Furthermore, water quality issues arise when we consider the high levels of improper disposal of industrial waste and runoff from quarrying, just to mention a few. Policy implementation is usually slow and difficult due to the inefficient legislation system.

In my opinion, these issues can only be addressed when citizens, at every level, become aware of the importance of water as an economic resource. Water is life. If we come to a place where we see the significance and value of hydrological issues, then proper institutional frameworks to support water resource management will be implemented and enforced. Water is crucial to the development of civilization across the globe.

What message you want to share with other water youth leaders?

I would like to encourage the youth to become actively engaged in high-level decision making processes. We grow up hearing that we are the future, well the future is now and the decisions we make today will affect our lives tomorrow and the lives of our children and so forth. Sustainability of water usage needs to be a priority in the global environmental governance agenda and it is up to us to set it there. I would also like to urge young people to challenge themselves; you won’t know the good things you are capable of until you try.