UN Resident Coordinator
12 August 2019
Remarks at the International Youth Day Multi faith Service in Barbados
Speech by Didier Trebucq, UN Resident Coordinator at The Savannah Beach Hotel, Barbados
On behalf of the UN for Barbados and the OECS, it is my pleasure to join you all as we celebrate the 20th year of International Youth Day. I wish to thank the Barbados Youth Development Council for the invitation and of course the Ministry of Youth and Community Development for our partnership.
This year’s theme, “Transforming education” is rooted in Goal 4 of the SDGs. Today presents an excellent opportunity to reflect on how collectively, we as development partners, governments, civil society, the Youth and the UN are making transformative gains in education.
Globally young people of ages 10 – 24 years represent 1.8 billion, with close to 90% of them living in developing countries; and we owe it to them to ensure that they receive an inclusive and equitable quality education. Yet, we know that in many countries, challenges remain with providing access to education for girls and women, rural or indigenous youth and persons living with disabilities. We cannot afford for this to continue; Leaving No One Behind must be our driver as we consider how transforming education can propel national development.
Recognising the need to empower our youth, the UN SG launched Youth 2030 the United Nation’s Youth Strategy in September 2018. The strategy has five priority areas: youth engagement, participation and advocacy; Education and health care; economic empowerment through decent work; human rights; and peace and resilience building. Under the third priority which speaks to education and healthcare, the UN has made commitments in Barbados to advocate for quality education, to promote non-formal education, support sexual and reproductive health rights, among others.
I must say that Barbados and the EC have made significant gains in the advancement of education for all. I wish to commend the government for recognizing that education is a key driver of social mobility, equality and national development. By ensuring equity in the delivery of education, taking the special needs of students into account, providing HIV/AIDS education in schools and developing a workforce that is adaptable to a rapidly-changing environment, then acceleration of progress across all Sustainable Development Goals is possible.
In addition, the preparation of the National Youth Policy of Barbados, under Ministry of Youth and Community Development’s leadership, is noteworthy as it gives a voice to the youth in shaping a national direction. I also wish to commend UNICEF for their contribution in this policy.
The Generation Unlimited project is another flagship initiative of UNICEF supported by the EU among others, in cooperation with Government and multiple partners, which seeks to ensure that young people acquire the right skills for employment and decent work, and also promotes girls empowerment.
The UNFPA has also been instrumental in providing sexual and reproductive health messaging to the BYDC and in supporting other civil society organizations in this area.
Finally, the UN Secretary General in his message for International Youth Day cautions us that we are facing a learning crisis as schools “are not equipping young people with the skills they need to navigate the technological revolution.” He further argues that education “should advance gender equality, human rights and a culture of peace.” We are fortunate that we have forged strong partnerships in Barbados to make this a reality, and I truly encourage you all to sustain these efforts.
In closing, I would like to reiterate our commitment. The ongoing reform of the UN Development System will help to respond more coherently to national priorities, as ONE UN breaking its silos to support the achievement of the SDGs and create better opportunities for future generations.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a very successful International Youth Day event.
UN agencies involved in this initiative
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children's Fund