Basseterre, St. Kitts – The development of sustainable cities, expanding opportunities for creatives in Nevis, increasing agricultural production and reducing the food import bill, transforming the education curriculum and adapting to climate change were among the areas discussed at the annual Minister’s Youth Forum held at the CUNA Caribbean Conference Centre on Friday, November 17, 2023.
Minister of State responsible for Youth Empowerment, the Honourable Isalean Phillip, hosted some 55 young people at the interactive session, which featured presentations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the plans to transform St. Kitts and Nevis into a Sustainable Island State (SIS). The SDG segment was presented by Cosbert Woods, United Nations Country Coordinator for St. Kitts and Nevis, while Honourable Phillip expounded on the Sustainable Island State (SIS) Agenda and engaged in a lively Question and Answer segment.
“I’m always pleased to hear just how informed or already abreast of the issues when it comes to climate and environmental change our young people are aware,” Minister of State Phillip stated. “They asked some real serious and very hard questions. They also made some very valuable contributions and suggestions as to how we can actually achieve our SIS agenda and so it is really nice to be able to have our young people onboard, which is really the objective for me as the minister [of state] responsible for youth, to make sure that youth voices are not actually heard but are also included.”
Representatives in attendance included students from the Verchild’s High School, Gingerland and Charlestown Secondary Schools, Nevis Sixth Form and Nevis International. Also present were officials from the Nevis Department of Youth, CARICOM Youth Ambassador Corps, St. Kitts National Youth Parliament Association, Project Discovery, Ade’s Place to name a few.
Deorian Esdaille, a 4th Form student of the Verchild’s High School noted that the forum was “very good” as it provided critical information about the future prospects and challenges facing St. Kitts and Nevis, and the world. He indicated that the segment on agriculture and food security made an impact.
“We need to eat healthy so that we do not get Cancer or so,” he stated, citing the need to have fresh, locally grown produce.
Mika O’brien represented the Shekinah Dance Theatre in Nevis at the Minister’s Youth Forum. This was her second consecutive year at the event and she welcomed the more targeted approach by the Department of Youth Empowerment to engage stakeholders, particularly those residing in Nevis.
“Compared to the bigger forums, it was (more) interactive and I think that is the most important thing because then you would get feedback from both young adults and adults and then the Youth Department, they will know how to go forward in terms of assisting the youths in their development,” she stated.
Minister of State Phillip said that the concerns expressed by the young people at the Minister’s Youth Forum and the Minister’s Youth Caravan which saw her making stops to dialogue with students from Washington Archibald, Basseterre, Cayon, Saddlers High Schools as well as the Charles E. Mills Secondary School on November 14, 15, and 16, were noted and action plans formulated to address the suggestions and concerns.