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Youth voice their concerns

Young people from Barbados and 29 other small island developing states have called on policy-makers and multilateral institutions to expand opportunities for entrepreneurship and social business.

The Major Group of Children and Youth, as they are known, told a news conference yesterday, they submitted six recommendations to the Small Island Developing States Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting, which ended at Hilton Barbados Resort last night.

The recommendation on employment, which involved fair mechanisms for “decent sustainable youth livelihoods”, also requested an Entrepreneurship Development Fund and the establishment of “business incubators”.

Internships and voluntary schemes for youth within the non-profit sector to provide valuable work experience, commitment from governments to promote decent, fair wages employment, including “green jobs,” and National Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions to ensure no workplace discrimination, were among other suggestions presented by the youth representing three regions.

They have also called for better access to education from pre-primary to tertiary, including proximity, affordability and inclusiveness of the disabled, minorities and disadvantaged.

The young people from Barbados, other Caribbean territories, the Atlantic, India, Mediterranean, South China Sea and Pacific, told the SIDS ministers, they also want them to revamp the schools’ curriculum to target 100 per cent “sustainable literacy” and contribute to alleviating youth unemployment.

Another recommendation had to do with good governance for active, transparent mechanisms that include young women and men within national, regional and global decision-making processes.

“Inclusion of youth within official delegations to the SIDS 2014 Conference (in Samoa), and the processes leading up to it and beyond,” added the suggestion.

The group wants too, a Youth Ombudsman for Sustainable Development in each small island developing state, based on nationally-established processes that are democratic, transparent and feature accountability structures.

Climate change is also of concern to the youths. They said they wanted to see the implementation of strong, continuous public awareness campaigns on this issue, targeting all stakeholders to build capacity at the local level.

“Capacity building to develop climate vulnerability maps and adaptation plans with youth involvement; further development of renewable energy technologies as the prime source of energy for SIDS, while building the skills of young people to develop and implement such technologies,” the SIDS youth submitted.

The policy-makers are also being asked to take the health of the youths much more seriously. The young delegates want greater promotion of physical, mental, emotional and sexual and reproductive health.

“Access to free, quality health care services and the strengthening of regional health care networks; (and) better access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health and rights information, services and safe spaces, including the development of peer-to-peer educational programmes,” noted this recommendation.

The SIDS Group of Children and Youth committed themselves to setting up an inter-regional Youth Network and requested the support and collaboration from UN agencies, regional agencies and other key stakeholders. (EJ)

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