Caribbean youth advocates have agreed to unite around common issues that impact the region and speak with one voice for greater impact at the upcoming Third International Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The meeting will take place in Samoa, 1-4 September, 2014.
Building on the Youth Declaration which emerged out of the Youth Empowerment and Sustainability conference held last year, the young people who participated in a two-day Regional Youth Advocacy Workshop in Jamaica, July 24-25 reaffirmed key issues to be advanced in Samoa. They include Education, Climate Change, Good Governance, Social Protection and Health Care. They also developed key messages around each issue to help create a better understanding of the uniqueness of Caribbean countries and the vulnerabilities that threaten sustainable development in the region.
Representing Guyana was Leon Niles who is a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Youth Advisor for his country.
Given the size of the youth population, young people have a stake in ensuring that the world takes account of the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters and economic shocks said Sheila Roseau, Director UNFPA Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean. “As young people, you have many concerns and ideas and we want to hear them. We want to ensure that the voice and realities of Caribbean people are echoed on the international stage and in Samoa so that your priorities, the priorities of the region cannot be ignored; and that the development agenda post 2015 is truly reflective of all our regions.”
Warren Chanansingh, Deputy Global SIDS Focal Point and UNFPA Youth Advisor based in Trinidad & Tobago while acknowledging that youth voices are increasingly being recognized as important in development and developmental processes, warned that this inclusion must never be tokenistic. “We therefore need to continuously ensure and advocate for youth to be recognized as equal partners in creating sustainable futures. Let us, together, abolish the tokenistic participation of young people through our strategic advocacy of developmental issues. As young people, we need to recognize that we have a responsibility to ourselves and the world we live in, to make it a better place for everyone,” he stated.
Thirty young people from thirteen countries across the region participated in the workshop which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. It was organized by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund; the United Nations Education, Scientific and Culture Organization (UNESCO) in collaboration with other UN agencies and CARICOM as part of the preparatory activities leading up to the Third International Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS.