Friday, October 8, 2021 — Challenges facing the region’s youth were at the fore of an inaugural meeting with the World Bank and the OECS Youth Advisory Network held on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.
The World Bank delegation, led by Country Director for the Caribbean Country Management Unit Lilia Burunciuc, engaged the grouping of young people from across the region on a series of matters ranging from concessional financing to mental health concerns.
Data and Research
One of the main areas highlighted for deep discussion was support for improved statistical data and research in the areas of youth, development, health and environmental resilience in the region.
The World Bank delegation welcomed the open discussion and apprised the meeting of extensive research carried out in the OECS with plans currently underway to address areas experiencing data gaps.
Director Burunciuc noted that the lack of available data, or current data, was one of the areas that caught her attention when she began working in the Caribbean region and highlighted a new project, in collaboration with the OECS Commission, as a step in the right direction.
“I’m really excited about this regional data project that we’re doing together with the OECS on strengthening data collection and data processing systems and technology; and building capacity and knowledge. Hopefully, when you go to conferences some years down the road, you will not see missing data on the Caribbean,” Burunciuc said.
Another key area discussed was Climate Change. The disproportionate effects on the Caribbean as a result of global emissions were recognised, as well as the need for more action at home, especially in the areas of energy efficiency and waste management.
The World Bank Country Director called attention to the unique opportunities for innovation in the Caribbean, given the small size of countries, noting the creation of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF SPC) as an example, which has since been replicated in other regions.
Regional Youth Strategy
The delegation was briefed on the OECS Youth Strategy and several key related initiatives, such as the OECS Youth Assembly, the Youth Innovation Lab; the OECS-UNICEF U-Report Programme; the OECS Financial Management Crash Course for Youth; and the Youth Programme targeting employability in collaboration with the Prince Trust International.
The critical role of youth groups in the elaboration and implementation of projects, and the supporting part that the Commission plays in the achievement of these objectives, was also outlined to the World Bank team.
The delegation wholeheartedly welcomed the opportunity to discuss the challenges facing youth in the region, and noted the alignment of many issues raised with World Bank objectives for the Caribbean. The delegation also expressed keen interest to continue engagements with the regional youth grouping with a view to facilitate critical feedback on initiatives that target youth.
The Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules, also encouraged increased collaboration with the World Bank as knowledge experts in a number of critical areas.
In a closing statement on behalf of his peers, Chairperson of the OECS Youth Advisory Network, Kamalie Mannix, thanked the World Bank delegation for prioritising youth matters during their high-level visit and taking the time to engage with the Youth Network.
“As young people we are often not in the room, but being dictated to. It feels really good to be in the room and to be able to have a very frank, open conversation about the general state of affairs in the Caribbean,” Mannix said.
Other matters discussed at the meeting included access to development finance; poverty analysis; mental health support, innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises; youth unemployment; labour market demands and the education system.
The World Bank delegation comprised:
- Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Country Management Unit
- Javier Suarez, Program Leader, Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions for the Caribbean
- Timothy Johnston, Human Development Program Leader for the Caribbean
- Denis Boshkovski, Sr. Country Officer for OECS countries
Members of the OECS Youth Advisory Network present at the meeting were:
- Kamalie Mannix (Antigua and Barbuda) Chairperson
- Steven Phillip (St Kitts and Nevis) Deputy Chairperson
- Elon James (Grenada)
- Shadell Stafford (Grenada)
- Clarissa Williams (Montserrat)
- Kezia St. Brice (Saint Lucia)
- Marc Odion Hillocks (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
- Tiffany Pierre (St Vincent and the Grenadines)
- Shea Alexander (British Virgin Islands)
- Mikeela Skellekie (Anguilla)
- Soya Williams (Anguilla)
- Daniella Letal (Martinique)
- Melly Ufens (Guadeloupe)
- Mendy Kilo (Guadeloupe)
Members of the OECS Commission Delegation included:
- Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General
- Dr. Carlene Radix, Head, Human and Social Cluster