PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Close to 200 youth leaders, development partners, and other stakeholders met in Trinidad and Tobago earlier this week to discuss and strategise on how best to address the issue of employment, one of the most pressing issues facing youth in the region.
The discussions, which included a focus on decent work and entrepreneurship, took place at the Caribbean Youth Leaders’ Summit 2020 in Port-of-Spain under the theme ‘Promoting Youth Economic Empowerment – Building Synergies Towards Sustainable Caribbean Development’.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) played a lead role in funding and supporting the Summit which is one of the region’s foremost youth leadership events, and was held under the auspices of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council (CRYC) – an umbrella body representing various national youth councils of the Caribbean Community.
Speaking at the Summit, CDB vice-president, operations, Monica La Bennett stressed that youth development was critical to the region’s ability to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She noted that this will continue to be a key area of focus for the Bank.
“We recently approved our strategic plan for 2020-2024 and that places increased focus on youth development, recognising that this demographic will be a critical pillar if the region is to achieve its SDGs,” said La Bennett.
Representatives from the national youth councils of more than ten Caribbean countries, delegates from other youth organisations and officials from regional and international development organisations participated in the three-day summit.
Elections were also held for the executive board of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council for 2020-22.
The summit was held in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) the Commonwealth Secretariat and the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
In conjunction with the event, the Bank also hosted a reporting tour for journalists under the age of 30 years old. Tre Greaves, 26, a reporter with the Barbados Nation Newspaper and Nickoy Wilson, 25 of the Jamaica Gleaner participated in the tour.
“We felt that it was important that young journalists play a role in the coverage, ensuring that youth voices are heard and youth issues raised in an authentic way by journalists who can relate to the issues at hand,” explained division chief of CDB’s Social Sector Division, Deidre Clarendon.
CDB is currently finalising its first youth policy and operational strategy, which will guide its youth-related investments in the region. La Bennett noted:
“CDB is committed to doing even more to support youth development. Key to this undertaking was the commissioning of a study of the youth development context in the region and the development of the Bank’s first Youth Policy and Operational Strategy (YPOS). Importantly one of the proposed strategic pillars of YPOS is, ‘enhancing young people’s participation in, and contributions to, sustainable economic growth’. We are in the process of crafting the related action plan, and this forum is opportune and will allow us to continue to ensure that youth voices are reflected in the final outputs.”