SIDS Global Youth Action Summit credited with connecting young people

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Head of the National Steering Committee for SIDS Children and Youth Action Summit, Caleb Gardiner
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By Robert Andre Emmanuel

[email protected]

A recent summit not only connected young leaders from the Pacific, Caribbean and the islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans but showed the value of youth voices in small island developing states.

That’s according to head of the National Steering Committee for SIDS Children and Youth Action Summit, Caleb Gardiner.

The event, which took place from May 24-26, saw over 80 youth delegates get first-hand experience on the environment, collaborate, and speak to policymakers about issues facing small islands and solutions they wish to see.

Speaking on the sidelines of the SIDS conference yesterday, Gardiner told Observer about some of the events young people got a chance to experience.

“The Friday we would have gone to Southcoast Horizon where we did an eco-tour… we took these delegates so that they can have that feel of Antigua and Barbuda to connect with the environment and one of the main focuses was how the coral reef of that area has completely died so that was an emotional moment for the delegates,” he said.

The young people then got to experience a cultural showcase from each island, displaying and sharing their unique cultural experiences with each other, before moving onto the next day where they discussed topics such as branding, issue messaging, and training on advocacy with organisations such as UNICEF.

“The youth of the different regions, for the last couple months, they’ve been working together to create a pitch—an action plan—to deliver to the partners from UNICEF, Caribbean Development Bank, Australian Aid, the European Union, amongst others,” Gardiner explained.

He said judges selected the Pacific Islands, with the Caribbean placing second.

“However, from seeing the pitch, we recognise that this SIDS conference is not only surrounded around climate change and the impacts that it has on us as small island developing states, but on different areas such as food security, shipping and logistics among small island developing states, so the Caribbean would have pitched a creative way for us to engage in sustainable agriculture,” he said.

Gardiner thanked his team for helping put on the summit from individuals within the Office of the Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs, and Legal Affairs, as well as Assistant Superintendent of Police Geoffrey Morgan, the Director of EMS Sean Greenidge, and persons from the Department of Environment.

Gardiner added that the youth summit was not just a ‘talk shop’ opportunity for youth with world leaders.

“However, what we saw in this forum was the engagement and the presence of the key stakeholders, such as who can give the funding, but also the advice of how these youths can shape their message, shape the plans for it to be applicable so what they would have done is that they will maintain contact… so we saw the fact that, despite being thousands of miles away from each other, we realise that there are fundamental issues, from rising sea levels, droughts, hurricanes, storms, food security, things that really and truly affect us as small island developing states,” he said.

Yesterday, meanwhile, Ambassador Aubrey Webson, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chet Greene, representatives from UNICEF and UNOPS, and Ashley Lashley from the Ashley Lashley Foundation met with youth on ‘Shining a Light on the Children and Youth of SIDS’ where youth voices were once again at the heart of the discussions.

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