Several Eastern Caribbean countries and the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission are poised to benefit from a new joint United Nations programme aimed at improving the region’s social protection systems and preparing youth for work or entrepreneurial endeavours.
The US$2.9 million Joint SDG programme entitled “Resilient Caribbean: Engaging & Training Youth, Strengthening Integrated Social Protection Sector Delivery”, was launched yesterday. The event took place in St. Kitts and Nevis at the Solid Waste Management Corporation, with remote participation from the other beneficiary countries Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Grenada, as well as the sub regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
The two-year Project, will seek to respond to current challenges facing Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including limited contributory social protection coverage, access for high numbers of workers in the informal sector, and lack of coherent and gender-responsive labour market programming.
Through enhancing access to social protection, the initiative will reduce the vulnerabilities of households and increase their capacity to respond to climate-related risks, increase the social safety net for workers in the informal economy, particularly young workers, and support the transition to formal employment by empowering youth to enter the labour market through entrepreneurship and skills development pathways.
It is being led by the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
Addressing the Project launch, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Didier Trebucq, said the Joint SDG Fund provides US$3 million, including more than US$ 700,000 in contributions from partner agencies - UNICEF, WFP, ILO, and UNESCO to make the objectives of the Joint Programme a reality. He noted that the initiative was one of seven Joint Programmes in the Caribbean and one of 200 being funded by the UN Joint SDG Fund in its portfolio on integrated policy support to Leave No One Behind.
“As we continue to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this programme’s main tenets – social protection and youth empowerment & training – all enable action on the SDGs which aim to reduce poverty, enable gender equality, facilitate education, and promote climate action,” he added.
Pledging her government’s full support, Junior Minister and Minister responsible for Youth Empowerment and Social Development in St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Isalean Phillip, welcome the initiative aimed at expanding universal social protection and youth empowerment in the region, noting that it was in full alignment with the Government’s goals and priorities.
“We are critically aware that the COVID-19 pandemic eroded previous gains for young people and that the unequal recovery risks permanent scaring of economies and societies with serious implications for our youth’s future, particularly in low and middle-income countries,” she maintained, pledging the commitment of Government and key stakeholders to support the UN’s efforts to ensure access of social protection to the most vulnerable, who depend most on these social safety nets.
Addressing the launch, Carlene Radix, Head of the Human and Social Cluster at the OECS Commission, one of the implementing partners, said the SDG joint fund mechanism has given the OECS an entirely new way to collaborate across UN agencies and to accelerate progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Regional Integration is the raison d’etre of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean State. As Small Island States or Large Ocean States vulnerable to natural disasters and global economic shocks we have long understood the power of togetherness.”
“The World and our region are facing unprecedented times, as we recover from the economic and social impacts of COVID19. Here in the Eastern Caribbean, we understand that Intentional togetherness and the contribution of youth are essential to our recovery. Let us continue to work together to support the youth to be able to make their best contributions as we move forward.”
Also addressing the ceremony were other implementing partner Government representatives Senator the Honourable David E. Andrew, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture in Grenada, the Honourable Dee-Ann Kentish Rogers, Minister of Social Development, Education, Youth, Culture and Sports in Anguilla and the Honourable Marlon A. Penn, Minister of Health, and Social Development the British Virgin Islands.