The UWI partners with UN and DEF on SDG Youth Awareness Programme

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has partnered with the United Nations (UN) and Decibel Arts and Entertainment Festival (DEF) on a youth programme aimed at increasing awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The partners developed a three-day virtual programme which took place on August 15 and 22 and concludes on August 29, for adolescents in Trinidad and Tobago between the ages of 14 and 19.

This programme forms part of the UN’s 75th anniversary global dialogues on SDGs. It aims to introduce the participants to their roles in achieving SDGs and create a forum for helping them generate and present ideas for practical projects to improve their communities.

The Youth Awareness Programme commenced on August 15 with presentations on ‘Localising Sustainable Development Goals’. Students from The UWI, St Augustine campus and other educational institutions across the country participated and developed their own SDG projects in small groups via a virtual platform. At the second session on August 22, the students presented their projects to a panel of representatives from the UN in Trinidad and Tobago, DEF and The UWI. A virtual awards ceremony is scheduled for the final day of the programme on August 29. The most innovative project proposal will be announced and funded by the UN for implementation.

Commenting on The UWI’s participation on the initiative, Dr Stacy Richards-Kennedy who heads the University’s regional Office of Global Partnerships and Sustainable Futures stated, “Following our launch of the UWI SDG Youth Advocacy Campaign in 2017 and our ongoing SDG initiatives, we remain energised as a leading partner on programmes such as these. It is through continuous youth engagement and expansion of networks of youth advocates that we will be able to increase awareness and strengthen capacity to implement sustainable development projects. As a regional university, we remain committed to supporting the Caribbean in working towards the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.”

The UWI’s involvement in this SDG Youth Awareness Programme is just one example of the University’s support for youth engagement on the global 2030 sustainable development agenda. In 2017, The UWI spearheaded a regional SDG Youth Advocacy Campaign funded by UNDP, co-organised the Caribbean Action 2030 Regional Conference and Youth Forum at its Mona Campus in Jamaica, launched a digital photo competition “Through the lens of Caribbean Youth” and produced a series of short films entitled “Youth Action on the SDGs” in collaboration with Sustain T&T. In July this year, The UWI joined forces with UNICEF and the Ashley Lashley Foundation in Barbados to host the Global Youth Network Summit on Climate Change and Health, which included a Declaration signed by Caribbean students in support of climate action. Several SDG youth engagement activities have also been led by The UWI Youth Development Programme and UWI-STAT Ambassadors. In 2020, The UWI also ranked among the top 200 universities in the Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings for its research, outreach and stewardship of the SDGs.

The regional University’s partnership with Decibel Arts and Entertainment Festival was born earlier this year, based on DEF’s mission to work with youth and preparing them for the future. DEF has also stepped up to support UWI students across the region who have been functioning in difficult social circumstances because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this most recent collaboration, The UWI and DEF have realised another shared objective of empowering young people to make tangible contributions to help the region achieve the SDGs.

For more on the Youth Awareness Programme visit