CARICOM partnering with OAS to address youth development agenda

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS) are forging partnerships to address the youth development agenda.

On Tuesday 1 June, both partners sat around the discussion table at the OAS headquarters in Washington, DC and explored ways of collaborating to address the challenges and opportunities of youth in the Americas.

This discussion was informed by the recently published CARICOM Commission on Youth Development (CCYD) Report on the Situation of Caribbean Youth – a report titled Eye on the Future: Investing in Youth Now for Tomorrow’s Community – commissioned by CARICOM Heads of Government at its 26th Conference in July 2006. The OAS Youth Strategy for the Americas was also discussed.

Held ahead of the World Youth Conference set for Mexico, August 2010, the meeting was chaired by CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development, Dr Edward Greene and OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin. Other CARICOM and OAS officials, representatives of the OAS Member States and CARICOM Ambassadors to the OAS were also present.

In placing the meeting in context, Dr Greene pointed to the ‘fluid’ political climate within the Caribbean region as well as to other social and global threats to regional stability, explaining that any discussion of the way forward in implementing the recommendations contained in the CCYD report must be hinged on the question of whether there was a stable regional structure to sustain youth development.

He posited that such a structure should not be defined by the operations of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) only, but should also consider human and social development within the context of functional cooperation. When this broader paradigm is used he said, one could conclude that there was indeed appropriate structures to sustain youth development and that some of the building blocks of those structures – health, education, sport and culture – existed long before trade and economic policies “took root in the CARICOM process.”

In making his remarks, Ambassador Ramdin stressed the importance of focusing on the challenges and opportunities of youth in the hemisphere, recalling that a majority of the population of Western hemisphere countries was less than 35 years of age.

“The fact alone that the majority of our population is young requires an organization like ours to focus on that segment of our society,” Ambassador Ramdin said, and commented that “if we do not address the challenges and opportunities that youth can have in society now, in the future we’ll have to address other issues regarding security, crime, violence, and unemployment.”

He further advocated for the participation of youth in the decision-making processes of the region, and reiterated the Organization’s commitment to help its Member States address the challenges of the youth in their countries. “Policy making without the youth is not policy making for the youth,” he said.

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