JIS News

Over 30 dignitaries, officials and delegates from 14 regional countries are currently in Jamaica participating in the inaugural Forum of Ministers with responsibility for Social and Sustainable Development in the Caribbean, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, between January 24 and 26.
The forum, being held under the theme: ‘Social Development Strategies for the Caribbean Youth in the context of the economic crisis’, provides Caribbean states with an opportunity to focus on policy responses to the financial and economic crisis, as it impacts the region. Particular focus will be placed on the region’s youth, deemed among the stakeholders worst affected.
Speaking at Sunday’s (January 24) opening ceremony, Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, said the forum would provide Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members with another option to “identify concrete ways of addressing the developmental challenges we face.” She further emphasised that it also provides an opportunity for sharing best practices, and for interventions leading to greater levels of co-operation within the region.
“The importance of evidence-based policymaking planning, programme formulation and implementation is even more relevant to this region, as we face uncharted waters in the explosion of our youth population. The theme for this conference. calls on us to revisit how we plan and how we implement our policies and programmes to ensure that our greatest asset, our greatest human resource, is protected and nurtured,” she contended.
Ms. Grange said that CARICOM has been integral in facilitating dialogue among member states around the issue of youth development and youth mainstreaming.
“Important pieces of research have been commissioned by CARICOM, the results of which, so far, are alarming. This is now being analysed, and will be disseminated throughout the region. There are also other initiatives that are being spearheaded by CARICOM,” she noted.
“Jamaica is now well advanced with the planning for the revision of its national youth policy. The first such policy was developed in 1994 and, since then, the policy has been revised every four years,” the Minister informed.
Ms. Grange alluded to several research initiatives undertaken during 2008/09, which, she said, are expected to inform the policy development process. One such, the CARICOM Youth Governance and Youth Dreams Survey, she explained, “has provided opportunities for young people throughout the region to air their vision, concerns, and their proposed solutions.”
“These pieces of research have been very valuable to Jamaica, and as we pursue other studies to fill the information gap, we look forward, not only for the revision of a policy document, but already, there are programmes being implemented and modified, based on the findings of the research work already completed. Much of this work is being supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), along with other UN agencies, such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as well as other international and state agencies,” she said.
Additionally, the Minister said other CARICOM states are implementing programmes that are significantly and positively impacting their young people and national development.
“This forum is a tangible expression of the commitment to social development and, in particular, putting youth development where it belongs, at the centre of our regional and national development programme,” Ms. Grange asserted.
The countries participating in the forum include: Jamaica, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is being hosted by the Jamaican Government, in collaboration with UNESCO.

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