Saint Lucia
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CDB Launches Youth for Innovation and Resilience Programme to Support Inclusive and Equitable Development

THE Caribbean Development Bank, (CDB) on June 13, launched its 2023 Youth for Innovation and Resilience Programme aimed at supporting inclusive and equitable development in the region through youth empowerment and engagement. The launch was held at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.

Held from June 13 – 16, the programme included a Youth FIRE Forum, a one-day event targeting young persons, aged 15-35, the inaugural meeting of the Bank’s Future Leaders Network (FLN), where the 17 Network members and two advisers took part in two days of personal and professional development and capacity building, and a Youth FIRE Expo, which showcased the work of young innovators and entrepreneurs across Saint Lucia at Constitution Park, in Castries yesterday.

The Youth FIRE Programme forms a core part of the CDB’s strategy to reach youth, support strategic career guidance and life skills training, and gather insights from young people regarding its programming and policy for youth development and broader sustainable development.

Speaking at the launch, CDB’s Director of Projects, Daniel Best emphasised that the Bank remains committed to creating seats at the table for youth.

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“While many young people excel, far too many continue to face uncertainty. Across CDB’s programming and through the work informed by our 2020 Youth Policy and Operational Strategy, we have increased our youth engagement and our focus on ensuring that all investments -in areas including education and training, citizen security, and agriculture among others, recognise, utilise, and support the building of young people’s capacity,” he said.

“In these trying times for us as Small Island Developing States, we must take the future into our hands.  We must be bold and augment or refashion solutions to fit the Caribbean’s reality. Our young people have the ingenuity and creativity for this mission. You remind us that you are not just the future, you are the now,” Best added, noting that “throughout the week we will engage with and be engaged by our young people who are serving as participants, panelists, moderators, presenters, innovators, entrepreneurs and critically as agents and advocates for positive change.”

Minister of Youth Development and Sports Kenson Casimir noted that the country had taken the lead in the region in youth innovation and inclusive empowerment for young people, instituting a Youth Economy Agency to deal with every social ill within communities in the Caribbean nation.

“It is a novel idea that says to young people that we believe in you.  A novel idea that says to young people that your ideas can change the landscape of Saint Lucia. With this idea, we have seen over 200 applicants in less than six months of the establishment of this agency (and) it says to us that young people were ready and waiting, wanting to be productive to the economic development of their country,” Casimir said.

“Programmes such as these… assist in building and strengthening our youth leaders and innovators across the region… youth are able to educate, develop and express themselves on various aspects of life which helps foster holistic development. I applaud the Caribbean Development Bank for… creating empowering spaces such as this to enlighten and educate the youth and most of all for investing in the region’s future,” Chairperson of the Saint Lucia National Youth Council Yaniqueca Jean-Bart William stated at the event.

The CDB’s youth engagement programme was rebranded ‘Youth for Innovation and Resilience (Youth FIRE)’ in 2022, with a greater focus on inclusion of participation by, perspectives of, and support to capacity building to ensure meaningful participation of, youth with disabilities, youth from underserved communities, migrant youth and indigenous youth and reflect the Bank’s commitment to respond to recommendations from young people regarding branding, content, and methodology.

The 2023 programme formally introduces the Bank’s FLN – an institutional mechanism for youth engagement and empowerment and to promote youth mainstreaming in the Bank’s Operations.