Remarks - Amplifying Youth Voices and Action Closing Ceremony

March 16, 2022

UNDP AYVA Programme associate Kerry-Ann Willis and UNDP Intern Neville Charlton are all smiles after Neville reveived his award at the closing conference.


  • Director and Representative, UNESCO Caribbean Cluster Office, Dr. Saadia Sanchez Vegas
  •  Chief Technical Director, Crime Prevention, Rehabilitation & Inspectorate Policy Division from the Ministry of National Security, Ms Shauna Trowers
  •  Representatives from the project’s partner agencies:
  • o    the Ministry of Education & Youth,
  • o   The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ),
  • o   RISE Life Management Services
  • o   The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica
  • Development partners
  • Youth Leaders, Delegates, and members of the media

Good afternoon and welcome.

Today we close the pilot phase of UNDP’s Amplifying Youth Voice and Action (AYVA) project and signal our readiness to open a brand-new chapter.

One where youth-led interventions in crime prevention enter the mainstream.

One where youth insight and leadership in crime prevention are valued.   

Our journey to achieve this inclusive vision started in 2021.

One year ago, 10 youth organizations boldly accepted our challenge to spearhead citizen safety and security interventions in select crime hot spots in Jamaica. With 10 000 USD granted by UNDP and mentorship from our institutional partners, 10 micro projects came to life in our pilot phase.

The micro projects are tailored to address Conflict resolution. Sign language services at police stations. Remedial learning. Employment and training for youth at risk. Fire safety, to name a few. Seven organizations supported. All united in the belief that young people can make a valuable contribution to crime prevention if they are financed, empowered and mentored.

UNDP. UNESCO Caribbean. Ministry of National Security. Ministry of Education and Youth. Private Sector Organization of Jamaica. Planning Institute of Jamaica. RISE Life Management Services.

We partnered to seek answers to one critical question: What if we moved youth from the margins to the leadership of citizen safety and security interventions targeting their peers?

We tested our theory in two main ways:

First, by strengthening mechanisms to foster youth participation in decision making;

Second, by financing and mentoring youth groups to implement innovative and sustainable solutions in Citizen Security and Safety.

Today, the AYVA 10 are here to demonstrate why our investments in their co-leadership of crime prevention interventions are worthwhile.

You will see a demonstration of many insights and lessons learned.

You will also see results indicating that this pilot project can be upscaled to ensure that youth led crime prevention programmes flourish.

Above all you will see that young people have the capacity and insight to co create and lead crime prevention and peacebuilding strategies.

They represent a remarkable generation of young leaders who are working in tandem with national development aspirations for a peaceful and just society.

Sustainability is now crucial in this period. UNDP will be working with our partners to upscale the best and most promising of the micro projects for phase two implementation.

But we need the support of government and development partners to secure the gains made through the AYVA Project, and other similar initiatives.  

I called for Government to consider establishing a national Knowledge Sharing and Empowerment Network on peace, crime prevention and citizen safety and security for youth organizations at the Youth Summit on Crime and Violence in September 2021.

I reiterate my call today.

Such a network can bring obscure best practices in youth-led crime prevention efforts to national attention so they can be multiplied for greater impact.

We could empower the network with mentorship, resources, crime prevention micro grant funding and other opportunities to encourage youth innovation.

We believe that this would be a powerful supplement to existing crime prevention interventions.

Truly, I believe coopting the efforts of young people can help cut the problem at its root, before its turns into a young person shooting a gun.

I call on Government to identify, empower and mentor young people to help each other and their communities, and to encourage their creativity and innovation.  

I challenge our young people to continue to innovate whether your place has been set at the implementation table or not. Keep the ideas flowing. [PAUSE]

I must commend our partners for joining us on this important process of discovery and multigenerational mentorship. AYVA would not have been possible without you.

The next chapter holds much promise, but only if we remain open and responsive to the fresh ideas of young people. Once you hear from them in their close out conference, I am confident you will turn a new page with us in ensuring they take their rightful place in contributing to the vision of a safe and secure Jamaica. Thank you.