Youth leaders share lens time with Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

Young leaders urged to make achievement of SDGs a reality

YOUNG PEOPLE IN the Commonwealth are being mobilised to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges, and their counterparts in the Caribbean appear to be up for the task.
The movement was set in train with the July 8 launch of a new youth empowerment and leadership initiative at The UWI Regional Headquarters in Kingston.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland officially launched the 33Sixty initiative in collaboration with Common Purpose, an international leadership development organisation, and The UWI, which hosted the event.
The name 33Sixty has to do with the fact that 33 per cent of the world’s population lives in the Commonwealth, and 60 per cent of them are under age 30. The programme therefore aims to equip aspiring Commonwealth leaders with the skills and the networks to make a difference in their communities. A group of talented young people got a chance to experience this when they participated in a series of workshops and other activities at The UWI from July 5 to 8. The group, which included university students and young professionals, visited organisations and also worked in teams to develop workable solutions to the challenge: “What can our generation of the Commonwealth do now to make our cities more inclusive and safe by 2030?” This challenge reflects Goal 11 of the UN’s SDGs: “To make cities and human settlements inclusive, resilient and sustainable.”
The four-day event ended with a Town Hall meeting, and young people from the wider Caribbean got a chance on participate online.
The group posed a number of questions to the Commonwealth Secretary-General ranging from the likely impact the recent vote by the UK to leave the European Union (Brexit) will have on the Commonwealth to the vexing issue of domestic violence.
For her part, Scotland urged the young people to play a role in helping the 53-member states achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This was adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit and came into force on January 1 this year. These SDGs seek to build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and ultimately aim to end all forms of poverty. The new goals call for action by all countries — rich, poor and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. The targets are expected to be met over the next 15 years.
“Make sure those SDGs are owned by each of you and delivered by each of you,” Scotland challenged. “I want us to remember that what each of us does make a difference and everything starts with you,” she told the gathering during the Town Hall meeting.
Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancellor of The UWI, briefly introduced Scotland and informed the gathering that the task to chart a post-Brexit Commonwealth rested with her. “This will require political sophistication, intellectual clarity and good judgement, but she has already demonstrated all of those characteristics,” he remarked.
In the meantime, it is hoped that the young leaders will be motivated to use what they have learned under 33Sixty to advance the 2030 agenda.
Scotland visited Jamaica after attending the Conference of Heads of Governments of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in Guyana where some of the same issues raised by the young people at the Town Hall meeting were discussed.