Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 12, 2016 (SKNIS): The establishment of a Federal Youth Policy in St. Kitts and Nevis will open additional doors for young people to “have a voice” at global forums which would enhance the country’s reputation and ensure that the positions of citizens are recorded internationally.

Consultant, Dwynette Eversley, said the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis was on the right track as it works to further empower the largest segment of the population. She referred to the recent Caribbean Youth Leaders’ Summit forum in Belize and noted that “she was proud” of the way the participants from Nevis acquitted themselves while addressing the gathering of approximately 200 youth and youth officials.

“There is scope for young people in St. Kitts and Nevis to take a more prominent role on the regional and global agenda and the [youth] policy is a space for that,” she said.

On Tuesday (October 11), the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis launched the National Youth Policy Initiative and Strategic Action Plan in order to review, validate, update and finalize the draft policy document which was created in 2013. Once completed, the strategic action plan will guide the work of the Department of Youth Empowerment as it addresses the outlined priorities of the youth population.

Some issues on the global agenda are captured in the draft policy and there is an expectation that areas outlined for action under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be addressed. One area highlighted in the SDGs which require attention by small island developing states (SIDS) is Climate Action.

“If we examine national youth policies of the Caribbean, less than 50 percent in the past had any policy strategies relating to the environment,” Ms. Eversley stated. “But now we know things have changed. The world is mandating us in SIDS to say yes; we have to keep abreast of what is happening; we have to see how climate change impacts us; we have to see how our own actions as consumers and citizens impact the sustainable development agenda. So I hope that through the policy, there will be a bigger platform for young people to enunciate, engage, advocate and take the lead on climate change and certainly on issues of employment, health etc. All of the issues in which they should be engaged and which impact them in a very significant way.”

Ms. Eversley, technicians from the Departments of Youth in St. Kitts and in Nevis, as well as volunteers will be consulting with stakeholders, capturing their feedback and adding it to the draft policy. Persons have been encouraged by government officials to be welcoming to the researchers and share candidly.