Representing Caribbean and Americas youth in policy development

Throughout the 2018-2021 tenure, I represented Caribbean and Americas Youth in different policy development processes. The concerns and views of youth were gathered through different consultative mechanisms including online dialogues, surveys and focus groups. Subsequent to consultations, the concerns and views of youth were then presented in different conferences, forums, online meetings, and research.

 

Regional Youth Dialogues and Caribbean Forum on Youth, Population and Development

I participated in the Regional Youth Dialogues along with other youth and representatives from grassroot, national and regional youth organisations in the Caribbean. The Regional Youth Dialogues were hosted by United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC), Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The dialogues took place from May 2018-July 2018. During the dialogues, youth were consulted on several issues including the status of youth policies across the Caribbean. I presented a review and assessment of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) national youth policy in youth dialogue session that focused on youth policies in the region. I also contributed to the youth policy reviews and recommendations for policy improvement in areas including establishing NYCs, increasing youth entrepreneurship, improving education, increasing opportunities for youth to be involved in governance etc. Similarly, I contributed to the development of recommendations based on feedback from youth in the Regional Youth Dialogue sessions to be presented to government officials and policy makers at the Caribbean Forum on Youth, Population, and Development.

The Forum was held in Guyana from July 24-26, 2018. At the forum, I presented on the panel that focused on “Challenges and obstacles hindering access to quality, relevant and appropriate education and training for young people”. I also contributed to the ratification of recommendations from the Youth Dialogue Sessions and overall recommendations from the forum. The need for more up to date youth policies, and more resources national youth councils were highlighted among the recommendations.  I also worked with the team of youth leaders and officials to successfully negotiate the acceptance of the recommendations by the different governments that were represented.

Work on this initiative ties in with the following thematic areas of the Caribbean and Americas Region Strategic and Operational Plan: Increasing partnership with regional youth organisations; Increasing partnership with NGOs, Intergovernmental Organisations etc; Institutional Strengthening; Advocacy for stronger youth frameworks.

Figure 1 Promotional Graphic for the Caribbean Forum on Youth, Population and Development

 

Figure 2 Franz George, Caribbean and Americas Region Representative (left) and other members of the panel

 

Figure 3 Franz George, Caribbean and Americas Region Representative making presentation on “Challenges and obstacles hindering access to quality, relevant and appropriate education and training for young people”

 

Figure 4 Group picture of youth leaders and policy makers at the Caribbean Forum of Youth, Population and Development

 

Caribbean Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions, and Caribbean Summit on Youth Violence Prevention

The Caribbean Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS) took place virtually from August 2018 – March 2019. I worked as a member of LYNCS Steering Committee; the committee consisted of youth leaders from different youth led and youth serving organisation in the Caribbean. As a member of the committee, I helped plan and deliver LYNCS online consultative sessions. The sessions were a series of online discussions that targeted Caribbean youth on different topics related to Youth Crime and Violence. I also contributed to the development of the Action and Advocacy Agenda (AAA). The AAA is a policy document based on feedback in sessions that outlines what youth want governments to do to address issues of Youth Crime and Violence Prevention]

Following the LYNCS Sessions, I assisted in the planning of the Caribbean Summit on Youth Violence Prevention. The summit took place in Georgetown, Guyana from January 15 – 16 2019. At the summit, I moderated session on “Positive Vibrations: Improving mental health among Caribbean youth. Also, I worked along the other members of the LYNCS Steering Committee to present the AAA to Summit Attendees. Afterwards, I worked with the LYNCs Steering Committee members to successfully negotiate the acceptance of the AAA by officials including ministers of government from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia; USAID Officials; and CARICOM Officials. Also discussed next steps and ways in which Govt can adapt the AAA in their countries.

After the summit I worked with the LYNCS Steering committee in assisting in the     planning and execution of post-summit LYNCS sessions. During those sessions, youth were updated on the events that took place at the summit, and the post summit activities that were expected to follow, including the implementation of the AAA.

Figure 5 Delegates and attendees at the Caribbean Summit on Youth Violence Prevention

 

 

Figure 6 News article featuring Franz George, Caribbean and Americas Region Representative and the session on Mental Health at the Caribbean Summit on Youth Violence Prevention. Published by the Department of Public Information Guyana

 

Figure 7 Franz George, Caribbean and Americas Region Representative (extreme right) along with other youth leaders of the LYNCS steering committee, and ministers from the St. Lucia, Jamaica and Barbados governments, after negotiations on the acceptance and implementation of the AAA

 

Consultation on Entrepreneurship, and Empowerment

The consultation on Entrepreneurship and Empowerment took place in Roseau, Dominica on July 10, 2019. The consultation was organized to coincide with a personal trip that I made to Dominica.  The consultation was a collaboration between CSA, CYC and the NYC of Dominica. In mid-June 2019, I, along with representatives from the CSA and the NYC conceptualized the consultation and outlined what each organization would contribute to the planning and execution of the event. On the day of the consultation, I assisted in the execution of the event. The discussion focused on how Dominican youth are affected by issues in entrepreneurship and employment, how youth can be empowered through entrepreneurship and employment, and the steps youth can take to advocate for the govt to facilitate improvements in youth entrepreneurship and youth employment. Participants included 40 youth from youth led businesses, youth led NGOs, youth serving NGOs, personnel from government agencies. The input and recommendations from the participants were recorded by the government personnel present. At the end of the consultation, I used the opportunity to engage the participants on the work of the CYC and how they can get involved.

Figure 8 Jonathan Jones, Country Coordinator of CSA (first from left seated), Franz George, Caribbean and Americas Region Representative (second from left seated), Ms. Keery Ann Remie-Timothy, Coordinator of the Dominica Youth Business Trust (second from right seated), Mr. David Thornhill, Chairperson of the Dominica National Youth Council (first from right seated) along with youth entrepreneurs, and members of the Ministry of Youth, Dominica

 

Figure 9  From left to right: Members of the panel, Franz George, Caribbean and Americas Region Representative, Ms. Keery Ann Remie-Timothy, Coordinator of the Dominica Youth Business Trust, Mr. David Thornhill, Chairperson of the Dominica National Youth Council and Jonathan Jones, Country Coordinator of CSA

 

Brown Bag Session on Youth Response to Venezuelan Crisis in Trinidad

This event was held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on July 20, 2019. It was spearheaded by Hannah Katwaroo, and Glenroy McIntosh, Directors of Programme Implementation, of the Caribbean and Americas Region Committee. This event was birthed from an informal partnership that was formed with the Living Water Community and Trinidad and Tobago Venezuelan Solidarity Network in May 2019. Both organisations are NGOs that focus on migrant and refugee issues in Trinidad and Tobago. Hannah worked with both NGOs to conceptualise the event and identify additional stakeholders. Terms of partnerships were discussed, and a planning committee was then formed. The planning committee then promoted event via media and mobilised the resources and participants.

Both Hannah and Glenroy assisted in executing the event. The event consisted of sessions and focus groups. Approximately 70 participants, mainly youth, from a wide range of youth led, youth serving and community serving NGOs were engaged on their views of the Venezuelan Migrant Crisis in Trinidad and Tobago. Discussions were also focused on the issues faced by the migrants and refugees, and how stakeholders such as the government, development agencies, and youth can work to create and implement practical solutions. After the event, a report was written and submitted to the Living Water Community to create a map of practical responses. Hannah and Glenroy also engaged participants on the work of the CYC and how Trinidad and Tobago youth can get involved. Following the session, a report, and a toolkit of how to craft and implement responses to the crisis, were later disseminated to the organisations that were represented at the event.

Figure 10 Attendees of the Brown Bag Session engaging in discussion

 

Figure 11 Facilitator from the Living Water Community  facilitating a session

 

 

 

Figure 12  Artwork produced by a Venezuelan attendee during a session called “Gallery Walk Exercise”

 

 

IAmAble 2 Conference

The IAmAble 2 Conference took place at the Five Island Village, Antigua and Barbuda from December 3 – 5, 2019. The conference was spearheaded by Michelle Thomas, the CYC’s Special Interest Representative. At the conference, I coordinated volunteers from the Antigua and Barbuda NYC in areas such as note taking, reporting, and ushering. I also assisted in facilitating and moderating sessions. At the end of the sessions, the feedback and inputs from participants were passed on to Michelle to be compiled into policy recommendations.

Figure 13 Group picture of delegates and attendees of the IAmAble 2 Conference

 

 

 

Figure 14  Franz George, Caribbean and Americas Region Representative (extreme left) with other members of the CYC Executive and members of the Antigua and Barbuda National Youth Council at the IAmAble 2 Conference

 

 

UNECLAC research on the “Impact of Covid-19 on education in the Caribbean”

I participated in an interview and relayed information gathered from the Commonwealth Action Series. The Commonwealth Action Series was ComSec’s online consultation with youth across the Commonwealth during the summer of 2020. The consultation was held virtually on September 14, 2020. It focused on youth’s perspectives and experiences in areas including education, employment, employment, and the like, especially in the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

UNECLAC Virtual Dialogue on Population Impacts and Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Caribbean

The UNECLAC Virtual Dialogue on Population Impacts and Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Caribbean on December 8, 2020. In the dialogue I presented on a panel that focued on “Adapting policy responses and services to pandemic affected societies”. In my presentation, I relayed information that was gathered during the Commonwealth Action Series. I outlined how the pandemic had affected the mental health of youth,  how the pandemic exacerbated intergenerational inequalities, and  how youth can be assisted in navigating the disruptions to their education, training and employment. I also made policy recommendations on how the issues identified in the presentation could be addressed through the collaboration of youth, governments and development agencies such as the UN.

 

United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Caribbean Future of Education Webinar: “Work and Economic Security”

The webinar was held on January 26, 2021. I participated as a discussant. In my presentation I outlined information that was consolidated from previous consultations and reports such as the Commonwealth Action Series, Regional Youth Dialogues, and the Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS). I provided input on how new technologies in education can be used to flexibly prepare Caribbean citizens for the rapidly changing labour market, especially considering the increasing trend of automation of work and the growing dominance of the “gig economy”

 

Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Youth Forum on Education

The forum was held virtually on January 28, 2021. I presented on the topic “Education System and the Future of Work”. In my presentation I outlined information that was consolidated from previous consultations and reports such as the Commonwealth Action Series, Regional Youth Dialogues, and the Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS). I specifically outlined the difficulties that young people have experienced in their education before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as how such challenges have an impact on young people’s ability to create and transition into meaningful work. Lastly, I outlined recommendations for policies and projects that can be created and implemented to remedy the identified issues.

 

UNECLAC Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Selected Online Learning Experiences in the Caribbean during Covid-19

The expert group meeting was held virtually on February 4, 2021. Prior to the meeting, I reviewed the draft study on “Selected Online Learning Experienced in the Caribbean during Covid-19”. In reviewing the study, it was compared to the findings from the Commonwealth Action Series. During the meeting, I participated as a discussant and provided feedback on the education frameworks, and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in selected Caribbean countries. I also outlined analysed the Covid-19 response in the education and ICT sectors within the selected countries. Similarly, I highlighted the challenges and successes of the implementation of online learning within the selected countries, as well as the best practices and recommendations that can be adopted by countries wishing to pursue similar programme or policy actions. Other general findings of the study were also discussed.

 

Caribbean Youth Dialogue Session and United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC) Youth Forum

I worked as a member of the planning committee for Caribbean and Latin American Session at UNECOSOC Youth Forum. The committee was formed in January 2021 and the committee consisted of representatives from United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) UNESCO, UNECLAC, CRYC, and CYC. As part of that committee, I successfully negotiated the contributions of the different stakeholders, then assisted with planning and executing a survey to determine priority areas for the Caribbean and Latin American sessions. Also, I assisted in conceptualising and planning and executing the Caribbean Youth Dialogue Session, the preparatory and consultative session that for the ECOSOC Youth Forum. The session took place in March 2021 and was held virtually. During the session, I gave opening and closing remarks, and participated as a discussant. Caribbean youth were engaged on several issues and were able to voice their concerns and make recommendations. Additional consultation was done using surveys and social media engagement. Their concerns and recommendations were then discussed and represented at the Caribbean Session of the ECOSOC Youth Forum. After the session, raw notes of the Caribbean Youth Dialogue Session to ECLAC were submitted to UN ECLAC and prepared into a report.

Prior to, and after the Caribbean Youth Dialogue Session, planning for the ECOSOC Youth Forum occurred. The forum was held virtually and took place in April 2021. At the ECOSOC forum, sessions were held based on themes and regions. I assisted with conceptualising, planning, promoting, and executing the Caribbean Session at the ECOSOC Youth Forum. The Caribbean Session was the session where the outcomes and recommendations from the consultations were presented and discussed. It was held on April 8, 2021. During the Caribbean session, youth from the Caribbean and policy makers were engaged and given the opportunity to add to the policy recommendations to be produced out of the session.

During the session, I outlined the planning and process, and recommendations of the consultations. from the consultative process and discussed the outcomes and recommendations. I then participated as a panellist in the session and discussed the different themes that were relevant to the region. 

After the Caribbean session, the raw notes were submitted to UNECLAC. Once the raw notes were reviewed, I assisted with the development of the reports and key messages that were submitted to the President of ECOSOC, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY), the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (UNIANYD). The report was also fed into the 2021 UN High-level Political Forum (UN HLPF) which was also held in April 2021.

Figure 15 Promotional graphic for the Caribbean Youth Dialogue Session which served as a preparatory and consultative session for the ECOSOC Youth Forum

 

 

 

Figure 16 Picture of Franz George, Caribbean and Americas Region Representative (centre bottom row) and other panellists at the Caribbean Session of the ECOSOC Youth Forum

 

 

 

Figure 17 Promotional graphic for the Caribbean Session at the ECSOC Youth Forum

 

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