YOUTH must be positioned to innovate and co-lead accelerated action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in preparation for the leadership roles they are destined to assume in 2030, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Denise E Antonio has advised.
She urged stakeholders to go further than consulting youth for their ideas, insisting that youth must be prepared to "helm innovative projects that break new ground, test new theories and push the envelope on how we confront the pressing issues of our time".
The charge was made on her behalf by Assistant Resident Representative Ava Whyte during the opening ceremony of UNDP's Ready Set Great Youth conference at the Jamaica Pegasus on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17.
Whyte said with a changing of the guard inevitable over the next seven years to 2030, youth must be prepared to take over.
"In the near future some of you will be captains of industry. Some will innovate new ways of solving persistent challenges. Some will have a hand in shaping people-centred policies. Your training must start now, backed by financing, supported by mentorship, powered by your progressive national youth policy and the UN 2030 Youth Strategy which was launched locally last week," she stated.
She called on youth to offer their skills and talents in support of Jamaica's national targets for ending extreme poverty and reducing poverty to less than 10 per cent by 2030, focusing on dimensions of youth poverty that resonate with their talents.
In the grand finale of the conference, a team of three university students was declared winners of the 2023 Development Challenge after pitching their solution 'Opportunify' before delegates and judges. The three, who called their group 'Team Youth Poverty Fighters', are Whitney Waysome and Jada Powell of The University of the West Indies and Jada Francis of Northern Caribbean University. They won paid internships at the UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica.
The Ready Set Great conference was convened in-person for the first time following two years as a virtual event.
The youth demographic is one of several groups targeted for services under UNDP MCO's Country Programme 2022-2026, having been identified as requiring urgent support to strengthen their social resilience and inclusion.