Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Youth delegates identify priority areas

Education, entrepreneurship and employment as well as good governance and youth participation have been identified as some of the areas critical to the livelihoods of youth in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

During a recent press conference convened at the Hilton Hotel, youth delegates from across three SIDS regions – the Caribbean, the Pacific and the AIMS (Atlantic, Indian, Mediterranean and South China Seas) – noted that they have come up with a list of six recommendations which they intend to forward to decision makers who attended the recent three-day SIDS Conference Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting, held last week in Barbados. The youth representatives  noted that the suggestions articulate the future they want, outline their priorities as well as the priorities of a number of youth from their region, who would have made their voices heard at workshops held in July this year ahead of the SIDS Conference.

Alex Cumberbatch (right), SIDS Youth Representative for
Barbados, shares some of the recommendations on behalf of youth,
as (from left) Rihanna Gonsalves from Trinidad and Tobago,
Rishtha Ali from Maldives and Emily Erasito of Fiji give him support.
“Young people make up a large part of populations in SIDS countries. If youth leaders are to be national leaders of tomorrow, they need to be involved today and participate in the processes such as the SIDS dialogue,” Emily Erasito from Fiji stated.

Rishtha Ali from Maldives listed the first three recommendations put forward by the youth delegates: in essence, a call for good governance and youth participation; health and climate change; and biodiversity.

Youth delegates want to see active participation of young people within the official governmental delegations to the SIDS 2014 Conference, she pointed out. With regards to the Post-2015 Agenda Discussions and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the delegates are urging governments to have a common position to lobby for a SIDS-specific SDG, with children and youth indicators, as well as an SDG on “Sustainable Energy for all”, ensuring increased access and affordability of renewable energy technologies in SIDS.

“Young people need a stable and healthy life to earn a living and contribute to sustainable island development. Therefore, we need access to basic health-care services that are free and of good quality and the strengthening of regional health care networks, supported by better policies, which will ensure recruitment, development, training and maintenance of our health workforce,” Ali remarked.

She also called for the establishment of a SIDS mechanism  to provide technical and financial resources to major groups, for participation in the preparation and implementation of a National Biodiversity Strategy and action plan.

Alex Cumberbatch, SIDS Youth Representative for Barbados, highlighted the final three recommendations, which relate to water; the 3Es – education, entrepreneurship and employment; and science and technology.

He made a call for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) policies and action plans, and for regional and inter-regional dialogues, inclusive of youth, to establish Marine Protected Areas, to curb overfishing, illegal and unregulated fishing and marine pollution.

Speaking on the 3Es, he noted the need for the revamping of the school core curriculum such that it targets 100% education for sustainable development, and he also stated the need for the establishment of Intra-regional Business Incubators, using a “Hub and Spokes” model in SIDS, with a focus on providing youth with self-created decent work opportunities and the building of skills to develop new industries.

Pointing out that science and technology is the engine of industry, he wants to see the establishment of inter- and intra-regional SIDS Youth Innovation and Technology Centres focused on the training
of youth, to develop and implement strategies to address the education, the environment and food security. (RSM)

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