Remarks by Ms. Chisa Mikami, Resident Representative a.i. on the Occasion of the Opening and Closing of the SocialINNOV4Change Gala Evening and Mixer Event and Launch for Call for Ideas

Aug 12, 2015

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The Honourable Shawn Edward, Minister of Youth Development and Sports,
Mr. Jim Xavier, Director of Youth, Ministry of Youth Development and Sports
Ms. Louise Victor, President of the Saint Lucia National Youth Council
Ms. Patrice Briggs, Artistic Director, Arts-in-Action
UNDP colleagues
Youth of Saint Lucia,
Members of the Media
GOOD EVENING.  

Honourable Minister of Youth Development and Sports, youth participants and distinguished guest, it is my pleasure to once again be amongst the distinguished and dynamic youth of Saint Lucia to continue our commemoration of International Youth Day. Earlier this morning, I opened the SocialINNOV4Change Ideation Workshop where youth spent the day “ideating” on possible development solutions to reducing crime and violence in the communities here.   Now that the workshop has ended, we can now focus on celebrating the achievements of youth in Saint Lucia and their active civic participation in a more relaxed setting.

I feel very welcomed here in Saint Lucia, where UNDP and other UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes have established several projects, in our collaborative efforts to support the development aspirations of the people of Saint Lucia.  Today, as I conducted my courtesy visits with several Government Ministers and high level government officials  having being reassigned to the UNDP Barbados and the OECS office in July, I feel confident that Saint Lucia is on a path for expanding the choices and options available for its citizens.   I look forward to the ongoing dialogue and the work we will engage in over the next five years as we seek to move forward within the context of the post 2015 development agenda.

Allow me Minister, on behalf of the United Nations Family to commend your leadership and the efforts being made by your Ministry to unlock the potential of youth in this country and ensuring their active engagement in the national development. The steps being taken to develop a new National Youth Policy, the continuation of the International Leadership Development Programme and the various sports programmes and capital expenditures to improve the recreational facilitates for youth, – all of which provide a framework for youth engagement and empowerment.

Today’s event is not simply a ceremonial commemoration, but it is an opportunity for us to reflect on whether our policies and programmes are strategically empowering youth and providing you with the space for active citizen engagement.  This year’s theme, “Youth Civic Engagement,” therefore, forces us to reflect on whether we are providing youth with the opportunities to actively contribute to achieving sustainable human development.  From the youth perspective, the opportunities are too few.  This year’s theme is very much in line with UNDP and the Government of Saint Lucia’s vision to transform this country.  However, Saint Lucia and countries in the Eastern Caribbean cannot truly transform their countries without the active participation.   We all have a role to play in advancing sustainable development in our countries, it is not simply the responsibility of the government, but also the responsibility of the private sector, civil society and citizens.

At UNDP, we see youth as catalyst and agents of economic and social transformation.  But in order to harness their potential, we must provide them with the opportunities.  It is important that we facilitate their participation in decision making, by not only listening to them but also in creating spaces and improving the framework for their effective participation and contribution to society.   With youth unemployment being one of the most pressing issues for youth in Saint Lucia and across the region, also ensuring that we boost employment opportunities and improve the quality of education to meet their school to work needs, and to increase access to financing for those desirous of starting their own businesses is critical. We must address these demands our youth are making of us.  

Earlier today, we engaged many of the youth representatives at this gala mixer event in some “Ideation” activities to discuss key findings coming out of the 2012 Caribbean Human Development Report on citizen security and recent data coming out of the national citizen security dialogue convened by our office in May in Saint Lucia, and for them to brainstorm collectively on possible solutions that could be furthered developed and tested in Saint Lucia.  During this evening’s programme, we will have an opportunity to view the outcomes of their deliberations.  

The SocialINNOV4Change, as some of you already know is a concept developed by the UNDP Barbados and the OECS in 2014 which seeks to engage citizens, particularly youth, in creating sustainable solutions, with a focus on reducing the increasing incidences of crime and violence in communities across the Eastern Caribbean.  We received initial funding from the UNDP Innovation Facility (funded by the Government of Denmark) in 2014 to pilot the concept and once again in 2015.  We completed our first pilot in December in the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, where six (6) youth organization received grants to implement their solutions by March of this year in various communities across the Federation.   Following the completion of the project in the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, we were provided with an opportunity to up-scale to project and test new approaches in a second country in 2015, and we chose Saint Lucia. 

Let me now take the opportunity to invite, Ms. Janine Chase, Project Coordinator Youth and Citizen Security at our office to share more details about the project and its timelines.

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