Young people will be one of the keys to the economic recovery of countries of the region.
And it is policies targeting such inclusion that will be the focus of the new UN Resident Coordinator, Stephen O’Malley.
In his first media briefing today since assuming office a month ago, the UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States acknowledged that although countries were doing their best to cope economically, there were still challenges.
For one, he said, the downturn was more severe and unprecedented than expected and furthermore had taken the world by surprise by the strength and persistence of the crisis.
“For the United Nations, where governments have really come to us and I would have to say, has been with assistance in areas where we look at the social impacts. So we have had a number of discussions with government and I’m talking here in the region and in other parts of the world on issues for example related to what will we do to encourage more inclusive growth.
“If you look at the data globally for this last period, one of the things that we have also seen is a rise in inequality. So even where the recovery has been strengthening in some cases, the inequality has been increasing and you’ve seen a bigger gap between the people who are doing well and the people who are doing less well,” said O’Malley.
The new head said they were therefore trying to focus governments on promoting equitable growth, and one of the areas they were focussing attention was on the youth.
“Here in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, one of the issues that we definitely would want to assist with is what are the policies that could be put in place to better include young people in civil society, in the full participation of governance, but also in economic life. What are the things that would need to be done to make employment more accessible for young people, whether it is through encouraging entrepreneurship or working on educational systems or working on pathways into formal employment. So that for us is a very strong interest and I also know a strong interest for the countries in the region. You want your young people to be really moving into productive economic life, into productive engagement with society and that is something we would very much like to assist with,” he said.
In his observations thus far, O’Malley said he had noticed the issues relating to the youth were a major focus for this region, along with climate change and the associated vulnerabilities for small island developing states. He said as well that that UN would explore issues of assisting with governance and civil security, programmes to bolster governments capacity and support to help reduce the risks in the region to climate change and other disasters. (LB)