Young people across the Caribbean will have a rare opportunity to directly state their concerns to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon when The University of the West Indies (The UWI) hosts a UN youth symposium at Cave Hill campus next Friday.
The UN Chief will be in Barbados for the 36th CARICOM Heads of Governments Summit and will engage university students and representatives of youth organizations across the region under the theme, Caribbean Youth Speak: The World We Want Post -2015.
Ban, the UN’s eighth Secretary-General, is looking forward to a lively engagement with young citizens of the Caribbean.
“2015 represents an opportunity for transformation and young people are in the driving seat of this change,” he said.
“I am very much looking forward to listening to the views of the youth of this region on how we can ensure a life of dignity for all.”
Crime and violence, youth unemployment, climate change and gender-based violence are among issues likely to be discussed during the live interaction.
Hundreds of high school and tertiary level students have been invited to be part of the audience at Cave Hill, with others assembled at The UWI’s Mona, St Augustine and Open Campus sites via video conference. The 90-minute town-hall-styled meeting, which starts at 10 a.m. will also be broadcast on dozens of television channels to regional countries and the Caribbean Diaspora. It will also be streamed live via www.cavehill.uwi.edu/videos/livestream.asp.
Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, considers the symposium an historic occasion. He noted that it would represent the second visit to the UWI’s Cave Hill Campus by a UN dignitary in the past three years, following that of Director General of UNESCO Madame Irina Bokova in June 2012.
Sir Hilary, who was appointed to a UN Scientific Advisory Board in late 2013, said UWI’s hosting of the event underscored the close collaborative ties between the two institutions and augurs well for future joint undertakings. He pointed to longstanding support and research funding which the UN has provided to UWI enterprises such as the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies and the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies.
Commenting on the initiative, he stated: “Hosting His Excellency is an honour, in my academic capacity as a member of his recently established Science Advisory Board, and as Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies that is recognised within the United Nations as a key strategic partner in the attaining of his strategic goals as Secretary General. As we pay respect to his outstanding service to the United Nations we will celebrate his recognition that Caribbean students and youth have a voice and visions worthy of his attention and engagement.”
Principal of Cave Hill campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau, said it was a special honour to be asked by the UN to facilitate the upcoming dialogue which she saw as an ideal opportunity for young people across the region to express their concerns with a view to having them placed on the global agenda.
“There are many global issues of immediate concern to Caribbean countries, global warming and food security are two of them. I am looking forward to a fruitful dialogue between His Excellency, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the region’s next generation of leaders,” she added.