“It's your world; you are inheriting it, so absolutely, we want to hear from you.” The words of Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, captured the sentiments of the proceedings as she provided opening remarks at the 4th Leadership Dialogue under the Stockholm+50 National Consultations for Barbados in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification and the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment hosted at the Hilton Barbados on Tuesday May 3, 2022.
The in-person consultation, 'Youth Agenda for an Environmentally Resilient Future' invited the youth to discuss key area related to climate change, climate resilience and the environment. The local consultation was part of the global consultation to stimulate an inclusive whole-of-society and whole-of-government dialogue on the main themes of Stockhom+50 and will inform the international meeting entitled “Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity”, in Stockholm on 2 and 3 June 2022, during the week of World Environment Day.
Illuminating Barbados’ role in these important global dialogue, Ms. Cliff explained, “Barbados is one of only two Caribbean islands that will be participating in this global initiative, therefore, these leadership dialogues that are being convened are not only an opportunity for Barbados but should also be seen as an opportunity to more broadly present an environmentally resilient future in the context of all the Caribbean Small Island Development States.”
Dr. Alloys Kamuragiye, UNICEF Representative Eastern Caribbean, also present during the opening session highlighted the impact of climate change on the youth while reinforcing that young people have an important role to play. He explained, “Children bear the biggest brunt of the impact of climate change and environmental pollution, these impacts threaten to undermine the decades of progress … But children and youth are not helpless victims but active agents of change who recgonise the effects that climate change will have on their future and take an active stance against the challenge, and on many occasions young people are more successful than adults. Children and young people worldwide have become key advocates for climate action and environmental rights and effectively exercise their right to participate.”
The Hon. Adrian Forde, Minister of Environment and National Beautification encouraged the youth to actively get involved and encouraged that their innovation and creativity could pave the way to a more climate resilient Barbados and world. “I implore the young people in this room to continue your advocacy, be the active participants, the activists, put all your collective sinew to ensuring that your neighbour does the right thing… I will challenge you today to use your creativity… challenge yourself as it relates to the environment,” he stated as he gave a passionate address to those in attendance.
The Stockholm+50 Barbados Youth Meeting aimed to provide a space for the young people of Barbados to be integrated into the Stockholm +50 process. The consequences of the environmental issues of our time will be borne by the next generation. Their voices, ideas and actions are vital to create a future where people and planet prosper.
As exogenous threats like COVID-19 continue to impact the region, it is vital that developmental efforts continue to reinforce the need for regional resilience, building forward better build and bolstering livelihoods for traditionally vulnerable groups. UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region. This intervention is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the "Blue Economy for Green Islands" vision.
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UNDP is the leading United Nations organisation fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at www.bb.undp.org or follow at @UNDPBarbados