The UWI and UNDP call on Caribbean youth to get involved in the conversation on sustainable development in the region
“The current generation of tertiary level students will be in the prime of their careers in the year 2030 and are, therefore, key to implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the benefit of the Caribbean region.” This is according to Director of Development at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Stacy Richards-Kennedy. Through its Office of Development, The UWI and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently concluded a campaign aimed at enhancing the Caribbean’s efforts towards achieving the SDGs by ensuring the active participation of the region’s youth. Themed ‘SDG Youth Advocacy Caribbean’, the campaign culminated in a Youth Forum at the Caribbean Action 2030 Conference held at The UWI, Mona from June 28 to 30, 2017.
Over the course of the UWI/UNDP campaign, young persons across the Caribbean were invited to submit examples of research and service learning projects addressing development challenges in the Caribbean for the production of a short film on SDG initiatives. The final production premiered at the Caribbean Action 2030 Regional Conference featuring the work of UWI students: Amrita Milling and Kimberly Badal from the St. Augustine Campus; Franz Harewood-Hamblin and Holly Trew from the Cave Hill Campus; the SALI6201 MSc Group and Thalia Balkaran, both from the Mona Campus and Patrice Jones from the Open Campus. The film takes the viewer on a journey through various communities in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, giving voice not only to The UWI students who share stories of how they apply their research, leadership skills and creative talents to tackle development issues but also to a diverse range of persons in these communities whose lives were impacted by the projects.
The digital photography competition titled “Through the Lens of Caribbean Youth” received entries from across the Caribbean highlighting development challenges in all 17 development areas outlined by the SDGs. The winners—Ajay Rameshwarsingh from Trinidad & Tobago in 1st place; Terence Thompson from Jamaica in 2nd place; Shilton Doelatip from Suriname in 3rd place and Hakeem Thompson from Barbados who received honorary mention—captured issues facing their countries and the wider Caribbean through engaging imagery.
According to Mrs Richards-Kennedy, “The objective was to build awareness of the 17 SDGs by stimulating the intellectual ability and creative talent of The UWI students to engage with development issues affecting the Caribbean, through the integration of visual arts and technology and tapping into their analysis and advocacy on the SDGs.”
As an activist university, The UWI supports the impact of initiatives such as these in strengthening the voice and participation of young people in regional development processes. The University sees the SDG Youth Advocacy Caribbean campaign as a call to Caribbean youth to get more involved in the conversation on sustainable development in the region. At the Youth Forum of the Caribbean Action 2030 Conference, participants reiterated the importance of being an integral part of the policy development process for the region. Many of them represented youth groups, NGOs and CSOs and emphasised the need for more work on the SDGs to take place at the community level in order to achieve Agenda 2030.
At the conference, The UWI also signed two Memoranda of Understanding; one with the UNDP and the second with the Malaysian management consulting company, PEMANDU Associates. Through these MOUs, The UWI will engage in joint research and training activities dedicated to building capacity on implementation and delivery of development outcomes and strengthening development effectiveness.