The Youth Have Their Say


On the opening day of the UNCTAD 15 Youth Forum, the young organisers put on a display of Barbadian culture for the international participants. Mother Sally, stilt walkers, singers, poets, dancers and drummers displayed their skill and talent on the international stage.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

The opening programme included inspirational messages from Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and UNCTAD Secretary General, Rebeca Grynspan.

Ms. Mottley told the youth forum participants that, “One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is when I get a chance to interact directly with young people.” She said that they were change agents who dare to do things differently. Ms. Mottley urged them not to let the harsh realities of today make them doubt this. “Keep that passion and that enthusiasm alive”, she implored them, “even as you grow in experience and in years.”

She added that our world needs it now more than ever, “that commitment to the global realities that must reflect the best of who we are, the humanizing influence that would cause us not to have the kind of schisms and separations that have caused literally too many people to die, or to be literally sealed into deprivation and poverty and lack of opportunity.”

The Prime Minister said that the goal of all of today’s leaders has to be “to nurture a generation rooted in the culture and values of their nation, yet confidently global in their thinking and their outlook.”

UNCTAD Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan

For her part, Ms. Grynspan said that, “for those that have closed minds, I am happy to see that many of these subjects (such as) mental health, the digital transition, new production and value chains, entrepreneurship will be covered during the three days of this forum.”

She told them that the Youth Forum represents an opportunity for them to have their voices heard and for them to contribute to UNCTAD’s work in this most critical time.

Ms. Grynspan said that she looked forward to the Youth Declaration to the UNCTAD 15 conference, adding that she expected their contribution to go beyond this forum. “UNCTAD and the UN need you”, she assured the young people.

Youth Forum Lead Organiser Roshanna Trim

Youth Forum Lead Organiser Roshanna Trim also spoke to her global counterparts. She stated that, “As 2030 looms on the horizon, there is much work to do to go from inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all. Young people under the age of 30 account for more than half the world’s population, and over 80 per cent of people under 30 live in emerging and developing countries, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. Yet in many regions young people remain a largely untapped resource, underrepresented in national and global leadership, yet disproportionately impacted by poverty and unemployment.”

Ms. Trim said that, “The UNCTAD Youth Forum provides yet another opportunity for us to dream big, to innovate for change and do more.”

Then forum settled down to discuss the serious issues of the day.  Sessions covered the topics such as Where Are We Now? Equality, Prosperity, COVID-19 and THE 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Driving a Youth-Inclusive Economic Growth; Accelerating Digital Transformation.  

The theme of the Youth Forum is Pull Up: Change de Riddim.

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