Youth envision the future they want


The participation of youth was long-time in the making: dedicated individuals responded to the “My World, My Sids: Y.E.S.” (Youth, Empowerment, Sustainability) call of Unesco/Unicef a few months ago, and some selected ones were sent to be trained as facilitators in Fiji (Pacific) in June this year.

Last week, youth delegates of Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Maldives, Mauritius (including Rodrigues) joined Seychelles to kick off their regional conversation.
Armed with country presentations on environmental, social and economic challenges of their respective countries (from a youth perspective), they shared information and insights about each other’s islands, seeking to identify common issues and potential solutions across the region.

Beyond these presentations and open dialogue, the meeting was facilitated strategically in order to bring the best out of this group that had never worked together – the many team-building exercises of the first two days created a vibrant atmosphere between participants, which was crucial for effective team work.

Various small group working sessions also enabled them to think in many different ways: making a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) in world-café workshop format, envisioning and action plan exercise, ongoing mapping of key issues following country presentations, elaboration of regional projects, and working groups on their outcome document ensured a productive meeting over the six days.

Cultural exchange was a great aspect of coming together. Many participants had never been to Seychelles, and few had already met people from each country. The presence of Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau from the other side of the African continent sparked joyful curiosity among the young people. They learned some of each other’s languages and dancing styles, and the Seychellois and Mauritians enjoyed speaking creole together while noticing the intriguing differences between them.

All appreciated the support of the Seychelles government throughout their activities.
The youth meeting was opened and closed by ministers Rolph Payet and Jean-Paul Adam, and the Ministry of Environment and Energy ensured all their needs were met during the meeting. After the first three days of intense work, the ministry even provided the chance of visiting the island of Mahé, which was very much appreciated.

On July 17 most of the delegates left Seychelles tired but full of memories, and knowing they now had good friends across the region. A small group stayed to represent them at the regional high level meeting of July 17-19.

It must be noted that the youth’s work was well noticed and highly praised, including by the President of Seychelles, the Minister for Environment and Energy, as well as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and subsequently by many country delegates and agency representatives, as the youth were given the opportunity to speak in all sessions of this high level meeting.

The youth are grateful to the Seychelles government and look forward to continue their good work as important partners of the sustainable development process.

The main outcome of the presence in Seychelles is the commitment to creating a regional youth network, which will partner with each country and many organisations to bring the youth’s unique creativity, energy and experience in sustainable development activities.

These may include exchange programmes for students and volunteers to build the youth’s capacity in the field, projects that restore ecosystems and the social fabric while laying important educational foundations for the future generations.

In their vision of a sustainable future, “we are living in a world where we can walk together, tall and proud of a peaceful and thriving society. The living environment is our greatest ally, while our spiritual, cultural and intellectual riches are shared without bounds”.

Youth presented concrete recommendations, under the following categories:
1. Strengthening capacity-building and the quality of education
2. National and regional youth mechanisms for economic opportunities
3. Promote volunteering
4. The active inclusion and participation of youth in decision-making processes
5. Technology and enhanced connectivity inter-SIDS and SIDS-international community
6. The phasing out of global fossil fuel subsidies
7. Creating a SIDS specific SDG
8. Economic resilience
9. Integrated Land-Ocean management
10. The creation and implementation of Environmental Fiscal Reform as a framework for a green economy
11. Integrated waste management becoming a national priority across the region
12. Health and safety
13. Facilitating communication and traveling within the AIMS region