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The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC), in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be hosting the first Forum of Ministers Responsible for Social and Sustainable Development in the Caribbean at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston from January 24-26, 2010.
The forum will bring together Ministers, public authorities, experts and representatives of civil society from the region to deliberate on the theme: ‘Social Development Strategies for the Caribbean Youth in the Context of the Global Economic Crisis’.
The initiative is seen as a timely intervention given that the financial/economic crisis has already affected several crucial domains of the life of Caribbean youth, many of whom are being affected by the decrease in funds available for education and training, difficulties in entering the job market, loss of employment and anxiety about an uncertain future.
Permanent Secretary in the MYSC, Mrs. Faith Innerarity, speaking at a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday (January 19), said it is “very timely” for Jamaica to be hosting this meeting.
“We are at a very critical juncture in terms of our economic and social policies. It is quite clear based on what is happening in our country at this time that we need significant changes…transformation is required,” she stated.
According to the Permanent Secretary, the forum will facilitate discussions, which will inform recommendations on specific policy directions and programmes that can effectively address the issues faced by the youth cohort.
“This forum will allow Ministers from CARICOM to discuss best practices in terms of programmes for young people who are most vulnerable to the crisis,” she stated.
She added that “coming out of this forum, we expect that all the ideas/strategies that are brought forward and discussed, and recommendations made will be fed into our own policy development process here in Jamaica and in the wider Caribbean.”
In addition to the Ministerial presentations, representatives of a number of United Nations bodies including UNESCO, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) will speak about how the crisis is affecting youth, both regionally and globally, and their corresponding policy responses.
They will also examine ways to strengthen research policy linkages in the Caribbean, emphasising the importance of dialogue among scholars, representatives of civil society and policy makers. A UN and a CARICOM Youth Ambassador along with representatives from youth groups and non governmental organisations that focus on youth issues will also partake in the deliberations and give their perspective on the effectiveness of the programmes being promoted by the UN.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Innerarity articulated that the foremost emphasis of the forum will be on evidence-based policy research to guide the design of programmes and projects for young people.
“There will be a lot of emphasis on the mechanisms that are required to use research data/findings in a very substantial way in informing policy. Quite often, there is a disconnect. Many studies are done and they are simply put aside but the kind of interconnectedness that is expected between the research and the policy making process, quite often is lacking, so the usefulness of this particular forum lies within that nexus between research and policy making,” she explained.
The forum is one of a series for Ministers of Social Development, being organised and institutionalised in various regions and sub-regions of the world. They fall under the umbrella of UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformation (MOST) Programme.
The fundamental purpose of the MOST Programme is to promote the use of social research findings to direct public policy for social development.
The stated objective of the programme is to create a platform for: regional dialogue on strategies and social policy at the Ministerial level, enabling the exchange of experience and best practices as it regards the creation of national policy, engagement of countries within the region in horizontal co-operation projects and the promotion of regional research-policy linkages.

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