Youth set the stage for the Americas and the Caribbean Regional Platform – World
JAMAICA – Young people in the Americas and the Caribbean have called for a greater role in preparing and implementing policies to reduce disaster risk in one of the most risk-prone regions of the world.
The Youth Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction – The Americas and the Caribbean was an opportunity for some of the 106 million young people in the region to share their priorities, concerns and make proposals over the course of four hours of presentations, plenary sessions and panels. The online meeting took place a week before government and civil society representatives gathered, again virtually, for the VII Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The platform, which like the forum is hosted by Jamaica, aims to “build resilient economies in the Americas and the Caribbean” and raise awareness of the special challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This is the first time that a regional platform for the Americas has been organized in the Caribbean.
“Today is a real example of what young people can accomplish … we need to give them proper space around the table,” said Robert Nesta Morgan, Minister of State, Department of Education, Youth and Information.
For geological and geographic reasons, disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, are commonplace in the Caribbean, which is why building resilience – the ability to resist and recover quickly from disasters. – is so important, said the minister. “This conference is a step forward” in this process, he added.
Small island developing states in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, generate a negligible share of greenhouse gases blamed for rising global temperatures and accelerating climate change, but they are disproportionately suffering from the events. extreme weather resulting from this change, said Minister Morgan.
Climate and disaster resilience consultant Aria Laidlow of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where more than 20,000 people were driven from their homes in April when the La Soufrière volcano erupted, said the Caribbean were seven times more disaster prone than other regions. The frequency of disasters in the Eastern Caribbean has resulted in “astronomical costs” which in some cases have even exceeded a country’s GDP, she said.
“Why is it important for young people to participate (in climate change action)? Precisely because young people can bring new options to the table, ”climate activist Natalia Gomez from Costa Rica said during one of the panel sessions.
The Covid-19 pandemic has added to the region’s woes, with young people bearing much of the burden. “Education has been the silent victim of this fight against Covid,” said Jamaican Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie, referring to the fact that schools and universities in the Caribbean have closed as governments sought to stop the spread of infection.
“It is imperative that disaster risk reduction actors work together to pay special attention to the risks facing young people,” UNICEF Representative in Jamaica, Mariko Kagoshima, told the meeting. during which youth groups continued to work on a declaration to be presented to government ministers at the next Americas and Caribbean platform.
The first plenary session of the forum shed light on the perspectives of young people, including those from marginalized, indigenous and vulnerable groups, on the challenges that disasters pose to the Americas and the Caribbean. Covid affects the mental health of students and young people, often leading to high levels of depression and stress, a Caribbean activist said. Disaster risk management should be mainstreamed across all sectors of activity, including education. It should be gender sensitive and reflect the needs of indigenous and rural communities.
The second session focused on the role of young people in disaster risk reduction. He heard the views and experiences of young climate activists on how to increase resilience and be innovative in disaster prevention and response.
Among the innovations presented is the “One Million Youth Action Challenge (1MYAC)”, which aims to mobilize young people around the world to implement one million concrete and meaningful actions in support of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. United for Sustainable Development. An ocean farm project in Jamaica aims to capture carbon to reduce greenhouse gases by harvesting algae and oysters, which sequester gases from the ocean and the atmosphere.
Finally, the participants split into small groups – English, Spanish, French and Portuguese – to discuss specific additional proposals for the draft “Youth Declaration” for the regional platform. The new suggestions included better funding at the local level for disaster risk reduction and greater long-term stakeholder involvement.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction at the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, called young people “a powerful agent of change” and called on them to get involved in all levels of disaster risk reduction work. “The voice of young people has been a powerful voice leading many countries to develop plans to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050” to contain global warming, she said.
Speaking via video link, Mizutori added, “World leaders must listen to you and will be held accountable by young people if plans for fossil fuel use remain at levels that make it impossible to achieve this goal and developing countries do not get the necessary resources. . “
The youth forum was held in collaboration with the Jamaican Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, UNICEF, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent (IFRC), UNESCO and the Global Network. civil society organizations for disaster prevention (GNDR).