Youth Visioning for Island Living

Among the UNESCO-facilitated activities associated with the Barbados+10/MIM process and with the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy, 'Youth Visioning for Island Living' provides a means for young people to articulate how they want their islands to develop in the future and how they plan to help make this happen. Discussion and action are organized around three main themes:

  • 'Life and love in islands' – Island lifestyles and cultures;
  • 'My island home' – Safeguarding island environments;
  • 'Money in my pocket' – Economic and employment opportunities.

The project has three stages. First, during the twelve-month period starting January 2004, preparatory activities among island youth included local meetings and discussions, fund-raising activities, media promotion of the visioning activity, and web-based discussions.

Second, youth participants from island countries met in Mauritius in January 2005, to discuss concerns, share information about activities, and shape their vision. Taking part were 96 young people from 31 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and six island territories with other affiliations. Conclusions of the Youth Visioning event are encapsulated in a four-page Declaration that includes commitments for follow-up action by the youth, and was presented to the Plenary of the main United Nations meeting on 12 January. A number of the commitments related to 'Life and love in islands (island lifestyles and cultures)', including:

  • Promotion of healthy lifestyles and habits to heighten local culture among
    youths (British Virgin Islands)
  • Intergenerational cultural dialogue and documentation (Cook Islands)
  • Promotion of local Creole language in schools and communities (Dominica)
  • Promoting local culture as a means of enhancing youth identities (Dominican Republic)
  • Promotion of local culinary culture (Montserrat)
  • Addressing the generational drift in culture and communication resulting from the rapid modernization of Singapore.

Third, and most importantly, after the UN meeting young delegates reported back to their local groups about the results of the Mauritius youth forum. Youth groups gave priorities to actions at a national and local level, and began implementation. Mini-grants are being made available to youth groups, based on a competitive selection process, in support of implementing their projects. A major challenge is that of involving poor, marginalized, disaffected youth in the overall process and in individual projects.

The whole Youth Visioning for Island Living event is one that involves many partners. Within UNESCO, units involved are primarily the Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) Platform, the Bureau of Strategic Planning's Section for Youth, the Social and Human Sciences Sector and staff based in the Apia and Kingston Field Offices. From the Mauritian government side, key bodies involved in the event in Mauritius in January 2005 included the National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Social Security. A range of other regional and international partners are also involved, including the Lighthouse Foundation, Indian Ocean Commission, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Caribbean Community, UNICEF, and the international youth NGO TakingITGlobal.

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