Address by the youth at the closing ceremony, 12 January 2005

Youth VisioningAddress by the youth at the closing ceremony of Youth Visioning for Island Living, 12th January 2005, Freeport, Mauritius

(a) Introduction
presented by Mr. Ronny Rengasamy on behalf of the youth from the AIMS region

Mr. Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, Mrs. Annan, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, distinguished Ministers and members of government:

We the ninety-six youth from 31 small island developing States and six other small island nations have been meeting at the Pointe aux Sables recreational centre since 7th January 2005 for the ‘Youth Visioning for Island Living Forum’ which is a special event of the UN International Conference on small island developing States, ‘Small islands, big stakes’.

The Youth Visioning for Island Living initiative has been facilitated by UNESCO, in partnership with the Government of Mauritius, UNICEF, the Indian Ocean Commission, the Caribbean Community, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Secretariat for the Pacific Community, Lighthouse Foundation and other strategic regional partners.

We would like to especially thank Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO and his staff for initiating this process.

Our week has been exciting, has challenged our assumptions about development issues in other small island states and, quite tiring. Our activities have included: panel and group discussions and presentations, a field trip, and each evening we have had cultural nights. We also participated in the launching of the Indian Ocean AIDS project – because, as you know, youth are a major group vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Our delegates were also given the honour of attending the official opening of the UN International Conference on small island developing States at Domaine les Pailles. We appreciate this opportunity to link into this important global decision-making forum.

The three themes discussed at the Youth Visioning meeting were: Life and love in islands, My island home and Money in my pocket.

Our groups identified several important issues and projects as follow-up activities, which we will carry out on our return to our home countries.

The forum has been really rich in terms of capacity building. But above all, this tremendous sharing of experiences has enabled us to learn first hand about youth issues and solutions in other small island states.

We know that we are very privileged to have been selected by our countries to attend this meeting. For many, this has been our first international meeting, and we are committed to sharing our experiences when we return home.

As a Mauritian youth, it has been a pleasure for me to welcome the youth from the AIMS, Caribbean and Pacific regions to my country. I had so much fun trying to learn a few words from the different languages and trying to teach Creole.

Now I have friends from all the islands around the world.

(b) Findings
presented by Mr. Lyston Skerritt on behalf of the youth from the Caribbean region

As youth of small island developing States, we realise that we face a commonality of challenges in environment, education, social and economic issues.

This has been our opportunity to unite and discuss our common problems such as:

- Difficulties in balancing traditional and western cultural influences
- Insufficient financing for youth-based projects
- Brain drain of youth
- Deficiency of entrepreneurial opportunities for youth
- Need for more educational and technical projects
- Security problems in a globalised world
- Vulnerability to natural disasters

Our discussions have resulted in us sharing diverse and creative solutions to help address these pressing matters.

Coupled with this has been the prospect to experience foreign cultures and norms, to open parameters and broaden horizons as to the exact role of youth in society, our regions and the world. This conference has provided small island youth with the capability and capacity to return to our countries and be at the forefront in our countries’ journeys to sustainability.

We understand that youth cannot bring about change independently. However, youth are a vital resource that should be better utilised. The strong message that we wish to convey is that our participation in decision-making is the key to good governance in small island states and must in no way be marginalized.

(c) Where to now
presented by Ms. Fuarosa Tongi on behalf of the youth of the Pacific region

We, the youth of SIDS have shared among ourselves national issues and ways that development is influencing our culture, environment and quality of life.

Our youth declaration for sustainable development of SIDS has been presented to the UN International Conference on small island developing States, Small Islands – Big Stakes, today. And we are thankful for this opportunity.

National commitments will be presented this afternoon by national delegates.

We are strong in our agreement that the strength of our cultural ways will be the cornerstone for sustainable development and must guide the policies and actions which will shape the future we want for our children and for our children’s children.

Some of the key challenges to youth emerging from our meeting are:

-Transferring the commitments we have made into solid community based actions
-Working to ensure the participation of youth at national-level decision making forums, which is essential to achieve good governance. We believe that youths’ views and concerns must be taken into account in national decision-making processes
-Providing for quality and relevant education for youth. We need the chance to learn the knowledge and skills that are necessary if we are to work to ensure our economic security. Achieving money in our pocket is a major step to reducing the other negative effects relating to unemployment including crime, HIV/AIDS and social instability
-Creating and supporting youth employment opportunities in the work force or private entrepreneurial activities. These will include small loans programmes for youth and investment options.

Lastly, we the SIDS youth sincerely thank our host country Mauritius for making sure that we had the best facilities for our meeting. Mauritius is indeed a beautiful country. Our stay has been educational, culturally enriching, comfortable and very, very interesting. Thank you, merci


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Publication Year: 2005

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