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Reggae Music Embracing Green

“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain. So hit me with music, hit me with music…”” goes the song by Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley. So if with music we feel no pain, is it also possible that we could fight climate change with music?” Sean Paul (Grammy Award Winning Reggae Artist)

Reggae Music has been used as a tool for advocacy and change since it was first invented. Throughout its history, all sorts of topics have been addressed in the lyrics of passionate artists — including injustice, racism, poverty, war, and now, Climate change and the environment!

Reggae music is symbolized by three colors: red, yellow and green. The red represents the blood of the people. The yellow represents the sun. And the green represents the green grass of the earth, at this time in response to climate change and the advent and rise of alternative natural energies like sunlight and spiritual consciousness Reggae music is embracing green culture and Climate Protection, the focus for the future will be on the rise of the Black (melanin consciousness) Red (Blood and Spiritual struggle representing a connection to the ancestors the blood of the people and more prominently the Green – as in nature and natural health such as food as medicine and sustainability, as in going green.

Many reggae artists and fans have been living green long before it was trendy. The lifestyles of Reggae’s “Green People” focus on the green aspects of health and what is called “social wellness.” For example, healthy practices like eating natural, locally-grown, foods or hiking and riding a bike, rather than driving a car.

In addition to promoting the music and culture of Jamaica, organizers of Reggae Sumfest are committed to protecting the environment. Reggae Sumfest is the largest music festival in Jamaica and the Caribbean (until last year it was also in Haiti but has since moved to Miami due to political unrest), the festival takes place each year in mid-July in Montego Bay. Sumfest started in 1993. According to DownSound Entertainment, producers of the annual festival in Jamaica, there is increasing awareness of environmental issues, implications of climate change and role of humans in the destruction of the environment.

The organization noted that the impact of polluting waterways, harming fish and other marine life have been highlighted. This awareness has opened the conversation for promoters and event planners to make environmentally-friendly choices. “A green festival is one with a low carbon footprint and thus minimizes any negative impact on the environment and the surrounding environs in which it is held. These festivals introduce strategies to cut down on waste; in particular, plastic material — bottles, cups, plates, bags and cutlery. They encourage the use of reusable containers or biodegradable containers. They collect plastic for recycling and use energy-efficient equipment and lighting,” said Josef Bogdanovich, executive producer of Reggae Sumfest.

More and more Reggae artists, with the support of international organizations such as the IMDB, Panos Caribbean, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, GIZ, the Red Cross and the United Nations Development Program, are coming up with interesting and creative ways to bring the attention to issues such as sea-level rise, reef destruction, ocean acidification and warming, fish population decline, stronger hurricanes and longer drought periods.

Voices For Climate Change released 13 years ago was a music video featuring 25 Jamaican artists united to spread a message about climate change. The song is a warning of the impacts of climate change, and encourages everyone to start acting now sadly no one heeded the warning at the time!


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