Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 02, 2016 (SKNIS): Representatives from several Caribbean States, as well as international agencies are presently in the Federation attending the 12th Biennial Congress and Caribbean Youth Environmental (CYEN) Summit. The Summit which runs from Monday, October 31 to Friday, November 04 2016, is held at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room, LaGuerite under the theme “Exploring opportunities for Caribbean Youth to embrace sustainable lifestyles in support of the global 2030 Development Agenda”.
Alistair Edwards, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, said that the Summit is timely and important, especially for youth. He explained that the Summit is a spin off from the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21), which was held in Paris, in 2015, to which St. Kitts and Nevis was a signatory.
“In fact, we are known as one of the earlier signatories to COP21, hence this workshop which involves the Caribbean Youth Environment,” said the permanent secretary. “It is just a matter of showing our support all around for the issues in environment. We are happy that our youth are on board because you would realize that a number of the issues are relevant today [and] will be relevant in a number of years. We have heard about 2030. In 2030, some of us will be older but these who are 16 will just be in the prime of their life, so we need to get them the information now so that in that time it would certainly be a part of them.”
The permanent secretary reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting the CYEN, and spoke specifically to the Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. Principle 10 deals with environmental issues that are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens at the relevant level.
“Principle 10 has a number of pillars which includes access to information, access to participation and of course access to justice. We have always heard good advice coming from people in the community,” he said. “If you are going to make a policy decision, if you are going to make something that affects people who live in particular communities, the best persons to interact with and get ideas from are the persons who live in the community and in short that is what Principle 10 is all about. Involve the people before you make a decision.”
Jamilla Sealy, Regional Chairperson at Caribbean Youth Environment Network, explained that the group consists of diverse, positive young people aiming to make a difference in their respective countries and the region on a whole.
“Without the environment being taken into consideration, there can be no sustainable development and without youth there can be no sustainability,” said Ms. Sealy, while adding that their role is extremely important and is based on three pillars, including engagement and participation, education and awareness and advocacy and lobbying. “Being a part of CYEN, you develop skills you thought you would never get, such as event management, public speaking, social media marketing, proposal writing, even video editing- all these things you learn from experience and these are the types of things we want our young people to learn.”
She explained that having such a large number of persons from different countries and diverse backgrounds working together for a common goal is no small feat, noting that youth have a lot of negatives against them such as youth discrimination, youth unemployment and poverty. She urged members to forget the separation by waters and borders and work together as one. She also encouraged them to put service above self instead of using the organization to grab opportunities for themselves.
While in the Federation, youth will participate in a number of activities including a Symposium for youth on the 2030 Development Agenda; youth workshop on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration PART I and II; a sustainable lifestyles workshop for youth; public officers training seminar, familiarization tour of ecological and heritage sites of St. Kitts; climate change and health workshop and exhibition; a town hall meeting on Principle 10 for members of the general public; country specific youth activities report on the environment; recognition and awards ceremony to local and regional youth and institutions who have contributed to the conservation of the environment; and a CYEN business session.