Nassau (PR): Participatory governance is essential for the development and growth of the Caribbean Region. In order for true governance to be realized, youth must be the agenda of the respective governments. Youth must be empowered not only by the governments but we must also seek to empower ourselves and our fellow youth. This sentiment and more was shared by the youth leaders of the Caribbean Youth Summit that was held in Kingston, Jamaica from the 24th-27th July, 2012.
The Commonwealth Youth Programme: Caribbean Centre (CYP:CC), facilitated (via financial and technical resources) the coming together of youth leaders from well over twelve (12) Caribbean Countries. The purpose of the Summit was to build a model for strong democratic and inclusive youth governance. The resumed summit provided the opportunity for youth leaders to discuss and construct a model to promote wide and varied youth engagement. The ultimate goal was to allow these leaders to participate at a national level and to consolidate strengths and strategies for the formation of a Regional Youth Movement.
During the summit, young persons were able to evaluate the existing structures of National Youth Councils from around the region and give their input as to the best practices involving youth in governance and democracy. Delegates also committed to a Plan of Action that harnessed partnerships at community, national and regional levels, to build youth governance and participation networks. Delegates who participated were either Presidents or designated representatives of National Youth Councils from several Caribbean countries including The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Barbados.
Also bringing remarks at the Summit was the Minister of Youth and Culture for Jamaica, The Hon. Lisa Hanna. In her remarks, she noted the positive initiatives that her government is taking to develop the youth of Jamaica. “Equipping youth with appropriate and relevant training and education to fill available vacancies for employment, as well as to create viable businesses in emerging and growing area of the national, regional and global economies, is also targeted,” she said. Later in her remarks, she mentioned that in the fiscal year 2011/2012, only a minor four per cent was devoted to youth and 39 per cent for culture. This year, she said, they have been able to achieve a better spread of 33 per cent for youth and 58 per cent for culture. The Minister ended by congratulating CYP:CC on their investment in youth of the region and facilitating the meeting and enabling it to happen.
It was indeed a great opportunity to participate in the Summit representing the views of the BNYC and by extension the views of young Bahamians. Summits such as this enable the BNYC to stay true to its mandate and ensure that the views of young Bahamians are truly integrated throughout the Caribbean Region. It is my hope that, in future, we will truly open the invitations to Non-English speaking countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
The BNYC pledges to ensure that it stays abreast with the involvement of Bahamians in regional matters concerning youth. We are and will continuously commit ourselves to the advancement of youth of the Caribbean Region and indeed our great nation, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas for our inclusion in true governance and democracy.