GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Decisive action at the highest level of government is necessary to mainstream youth development, according to Dr. Douglas Slater, CARICOM Assistant Secretary General of Human and Social Development. His commentary was during the July 24-26 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s Caribbean Forum on Youth Population and Development.
Dr. Slater said the forum provided an opportunity to take stock of progress toward the implementation of the commitments under the Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes, 20 years after its adoption in 1998, and the Montevideo Consensus, five years after adoption.
According to Dr. Slater, it is imperative to maximise the youth demographic dividend, especially in the context of a region which is ageing. He indicated the Departments of Youth Affairs and national and regional youth governance structures also needed to be strengthened.
“We also need to devise a coordinated regional mechanism for more effective participation and engagement with youth,” Dr. Slater said.
The hosting of the forum is a result of a successful partnership among: CARICOM; the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC); the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB); the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); the Commonwealth Secretariat; the governments of Guyana and Suriname; and several youth organisations, including the Caribbean Regional Youth Council; the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Corps; the University of West Indies, Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (UWI STAT): the Vice Chancellor’s Ambassador Corps; the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Youth Advisory Group; and the Commonwealth Youth Council.
Dr. Slater thanked the partners for their generosity in providing technical and financial support for the Forum as well as their contributions towards preparing for it. He said that online Youth Dialogues over the past three months were a major feature of the preparations, which ensured that the youth voice was heard in the review process.
Young people from 24 countries made strong recommendations how to strengthen youth policies and programmes for the benefit of youth in the region. Dr. Slater said this approach was consistent with the spirit and commitment of the Lisbon Declaration, to ensuring active youth participation in decision-making processes at all levels, and in keeping with the World Programme of Action for Youth which preceded Lisbon.
CARICOM was established in 1973. It is an organization of 15 Caribean nations and dependencies whose main objective is to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members. Members include: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahammas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.