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Caribbean Youth Leading the Charge for Sustainable Development: Setting The Stage for the 2024 ECOSOC Youth Forum

On April 3rd and 4th, 2024, the virtual convergence of Caribbean youth marked a significant moment in our shared goal of confronting the pressing challenges that shape our region, leading up to the 2024 ECOSOC Youth Forum. The purpose of this gathering was to elevate the voices of Caribbean youth on critical Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 2, 13, and 16. These goals, addressing poverty eradication, zero hunger, climate action, and peace, justice, and strong institutions, lie at the heart of our collective aspirations for a better future.


Throughout the forum, the urgency and determination of Caribbean youth to drive positive change were evident.

Among the myriad of topics passionately debated, poverty among young people emerged as a central concern. This underscored the imperative need for targeted interventions to uplift vulnerable populations and ensure that no one is left behind in our pursuit of equitable development.

Given the unique geographical location and historical context of the Caribbean, the discussion naturally gravitated towards the global threat of climate change. We emphasized the importance of youth action and inclusion in climate discourse and policy making, advocating for youth-led, community-based adaptation strategies tailored to our region's specific challenges and vulnerabilities.


Against the backdrop of rising crime rates, we recognized the pivotal role that youth can play in fostering safer and more resilient communities. The proliferation of weapons and violence necessitates a multisectoral approach, including strategies for peacebuilding, social cohesion, and capacity-building as supported by many participants. It is through these efforts that we can mitigate violence and create an environment conducive to sustainable development and a sustainable feature.


Importantly, it is our wish that voices of women and marginalized communities feature more prominently in Caribbean discourse as we recognize their disproportionate vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, instability and insecurity. We note that it is necessary to amplify their voices and ensure their rights are upheld as a fundamental pathway to building peaceful societies. Women and marginalized groups are often on the frontlines of climate-related disasters and conflict, making their inclusion and empowerment essential for crafting holistic and effective solutions.

As participants in the forum on behalf of CYGEN, we were deeply inspired by the passion and commitment exhibited by our fellow Caribbean youth. Moving forward, we must continue to advocate for meaningful youth engagement, gender equality, and social justice. By nurturing the collective energy and creativity of our youth, we can chart a course towards a brighter and more equitable future for all in the Caribbean.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Latoya Charles is from the beautiful Island of Saint Lucia, she is a former recipient of the prestigious Sir Arthur Lewis Award for OECS Nationals and is a current Chevening scholar for the academic year 2023/2024. Ms. Charles holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science Gender with Development Studies from the University of the West Indies and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Gender and Development at the University of Sussex. Over the past six years, Latoya's passion has been dedicated to youth development, gender equality and advocating for the rights of women and girls. As a newly appointed member of the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network (CYGEN), Latoya is excited to continue making meaningful change across the region and building her portfolio as a Gender and Development Specialist.

 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

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