Delivered 30 November 2022 by UNDP Resident Representative, Denise E Antonio at Jamaica Conference Centre
Remarks - Inaugural National Youth Summit, Jamaica
November 30, 2022
- Hon. Fayval Williams, MP, Minister of Education and Youth
- Hon. Alando Terrelonge, Minister of State, Ministry of Culture Gender, Entertainment and Sport
- Senator Gabriela Morris, Opposition Spokesperson on Youth and Entertainment
- Mr. Orville Levy and Ms. Yanique Tracey, Co-Chair of the National Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica
- Other Special Invited Guests
- Youth Leaders and Delegates
Congratulations on this inaugural gathering of Jamaica’s National Youth Leaders’ Summit under the theme “Youth reignited and engaged …. Transforming Jamaica and the Diaspora”.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is very pleased to sponsor and participate in this event.
At 1.2b, young people (ages 15 to 24) account for 16% of the global population. Here in Jamaica, you, account for more than a quarter of Jamaica’s population - 28% to be exact.
You are therefore an important part of the national development agenda. In your National Youth Policy 2017-2030, you identified five (5) pillars for unlocking youth potential for national growth:
• Education and training,
• Crime and violence,
• Employment and opportunities,
• Health and well-being and
• Youth participation.
Do you realize that the key to unlocking those potentials lies in your hands?
The time to shape the future you want is now, not tomorrow.
Some of you are champions of change in those pillars identified in the National Youth Policy in addition to areas like climate change, women’s empowerment, gender equity, etc. and I applaud you.
But unfortunately, many of you, talented, creative and bright young people are migrating to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
As those foreign countries reap the rewards of Jamaica’s human capital, at home here, the vacuum of the brain drain is being felt.
And do you know as a result, Jamaica now ranks 2nd out of 177 countries on the 2022 human flight and brain drain index? Startling right?
I realize you face challenges, for example crime and unemployment: but if you run away, how will the problems be solved?
The reality as you well know is that most of the crimes being committed are by young people, particularly young men between the ages of 15 to 24.
As youth leaders, what are you doing to change this situation and make Jamaica your place of choice to live, work, raise your family do business and also retire?
- How many of you are exercising your right to vote?
- How are you contributing to making a difference in your community?
- How are you empowering and mentoring other young people in your community?
- You can no longer sit on the sidelines, waiting for opportunities to be handed to you.
This is your time! Take the bull by the horn and create the positive Jamaica you want.
As youth leaders, you must make local opportunities visible and accessible to young people, so they believe that there can be a bright future in Jamaica.
Access to opportunities and information is also critical for your mission.
At UNDP, we commit to doing our part to improve your social and economic resilience by working with you and through your existing national mechanism and framework for youth engagement and empowerment in Jamaica.
This was recently demonstrated through the successful implementation of the Amplifying Youth Voices and Action (AYVA) pilot which awarded grants of 10 000 USD each to 10 youth-led organisations to address various drivers of citizen insecurity within their communities.
Another way is our recent support of the Youth Advisory Council to Kigali, Rwanda to participate in the annual YouthConnekt Africa summit. Established in partnership by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and UNDP, YouthConnekt is an initiative designed to connect youth for socio-economic transformation and create an opportunity and platform for young people to come together, network, share experiences, unearth and showcase the brilliance that lie in your generation. YouthConnekt empowers young people by investing in your ideas and innovations to assist nations in reaching its full potential by 2030, while enhancing your knowledge, experiences and skills.
I recognize, notwithstanding, that there remain significant gaps in youth engagement and actions to achieve the objectives of the Youth Policy and Jamaica’s Vision 2030.
UNDP is ready to partner for a youth inclusive future.
I wish to commend the Government of Jamaica and by extension the Ministry of Education and Youth for your steady hand in crisis response and recovery from the COVID pandemic, and for mapping innovative solutions to plug critical gaps while future proofing your national education product.
I further commend your progressive and inclusive youth development policies and platforms which are empowering youth to contribute to national development.
The outline of your programme today sends a signal of your commitment to sustainable development and security.
Youth Delegates, I affirm you this morning as resilient, bold, unrelenting in purpose and committed. These are the values that will energize our partnerships with you and ensure that Jamaica will truly become the place of choice to live, work, raise families, do business and retire.
This is Jamaica, your Jamaica, the land of your birth
Reignite! Engage! Transform!
This is your time! Take the bull by the horn and create the positive Jamaica you want. As youth leaders, you must make local opportunities visible and accessible to young people, so they believe that there can be a bright future in Jamaica. At UNDP, we commit to doing our part to improve your social and economic resilience by working with you and through your existing national mechanism and framework for youth engagement and empowerment in Jamaica.Denise E Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative
Remarks - Amplifying Youth Voices and Action Closing Ceremony
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