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100+ Caribbean Youth to Discuss Ways to Achieve Sustainable Development and the future of the Region at Caribbean Youth Dialogues in April

25 March 2024|News

Approximately 100 young people from the Caribbean are set to login and discuss issues affecting sustainable development and their endangered future existence as island people at the Caribbean Youth Dialogues 2024 on 3-4 April. The youth of the Caribbean will meet to brainstorm how to get Caribbean Small Island Developing States onto the path to sustainable development while grappling with slow development, the impacts of the COVID pandemic and other social and economic challenges.

Over the course of two nights, the Caribbean Youth Dialogues (CYD 2024) will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas on how to steer toward inclusive and sustainable economic and social development for the Caribbean. ECLAC Caribbean is organizing and facilitating the virtual gathering of the region’s future leaders. Director of ECLAC Caribbean Diane Quarless says this young generation must navigate the increasingly turbulent waters of sea level rise, climate -induced storms and water and food insecurity.  “We are thrilled once again to be facilitating this gathering of the youth; to celebrate the ideas, vision and energy of the young leaders of the Caribbean of tomorrow. This is their time. I am eager to listen to the concerns of the youth. To hear their transformative ideas. To understand their aspirations and disquiets regarding their survival and that of their children when island living as we have known it faces existential crisis”.

The discussions at CYD 2024 will feed into the ECOSOC Youth Forum, to be held from 16-18 April. The ECOSOC Youth Forum will focus on this year's UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, entitled “Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: the effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions”. The Forum, set to take place in New York, is a platform for UN Member States and young leaders to discuss challenges affecting youth well-being.

In Latin America and the Caribbean youth poverty levels are elevated. In 2002, almost 45 per cent of Latin Americans under the age of 18 lived in poverty. In 2017, a study of the Eastern Caribbean found that poverty rates among children were higher than the corresponding rates for adults in all 11 countries analysed at 33 per cent for children, compared to 21 per cent for adults.  During the COVID pandemic, the situation was exacerbated by a temporary, yet significant spike in poverty.

Te Hilla Maloney, 26-years-old, from Trinidad and Tobago, says she is looking forward to participating in CYD 2024 and focusing on the interconnected nature of the Sustainable Development Goals and all elements of human development. “I think last year was phenomenal and we really got some rich conversations and some succinct recommendations that we carried with us to ECOSOC…  I see SDG 1 - addressing poverty and 2 – hunger, really laying the foundation for sustainable growth and reducing vulnerability for SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and climate change and the impact that brings in the region… contributing to peace and stability, which we know contributes to SDG 16.”

Maloney, from the Caribbean Regional Youth Council, is youth activist, and youth researcher says, “When we have discussions on crime and violence, the solutions are being overtaken by discussions about how we can support communities that are being plagued by the same SDG 1 and 2 issues. We can’t talk about one or the other. The overlap is so severe, and poverty and crime go hand in hand in the region. So, I look at Caribbean youth as not just being contributors to the discussion, but being leaders, the change makers in something they have personal experience for.”

According to the UN Economic and Social Council, the Caribbean is home to more than 11 million youth between the ages of 15 and 29. They have a central role to play in achieving sustainable development in the region.

Law student and youth activist Shamar Wedderburn, 25, from Jamaica also acknowledges how inter-connected the SDGs are and hopes that the discussions at CYD 2024 can influence the highest decision makers.

“So far, we’ve fought for young people to be at the table, but now as we edge closer towards 2030, we want young persons to be much more involved in implementation to achieve these goals akin to what SDG 17 says. That is why I, on behalf of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council, am so appreciative of moments like these Caribbean Dialogues in the lead up to the economic youth forum. They allow us to not just speak the issues, but to tally all of this in contribution to the side events in the Caribbean sessions that we will take to present at the ECOSOC Youth Forum, where young people will get to present our ideas, from grass roots community, a youth club, a church organisation, your idea matters. And hopefully we can even get this presented at the summit for the future.”

Director Quarless says, “"The Caribbean Youth Dialogues provide a platform for, gathering our troops, revving their engines, and consolidating their voices in preparation for the ECOSOC Youth Forum, to be held 16-18 April at UNHQ in New York, and then for the Summit of the Future in September.  It is in these forums that the youth of the Caribbean will make their voices heard in defence and support of the future of Small Island Developing States.” ECLAC has partnered with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office for Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten, the Caribbean Regional Youth Council and CARICOM Youth Ambassadors to organize CYD 2024.

Register and login to hear the youth speak!

Caribbean Youth Dialogues 2024 in preparation of the ECOSOC Youth Forum | CEPAL

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Written by the Strategic Planning and Outreach Unit, ECLAC Caribbean