BARBADOS / ST LUCIA – As the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Bank launched its 53rd annual meeting focused on marshalling finance for development and safeguarding access to adequate and affordable financing for its membership, the prime minister of Saint Lucia and current the chairman of CDB’s board of governors, Philip J. Pierre, highlighted a need for greater engagement of youth in development plans.
According to the prime minister: “Our young people are the primary agents of change and a key to reform and rebuild our region. They possess unmatched levels of innovation and creativity and in them we can find the solutions to some of our development challenges and emerging opportunities.”
The meeting which will be hosted in June 2023 in Saint Lucia is CDB’s flagship event.
At the launch, CDB president Dr Hyginus “Gene” Leon, encouraged the future leaders to become more actively engaged in the region’s advancements. CDB’s president spoke to the multi-faceted nature of development emphasizing:
“Development is a holistic process that is social, financial and environmental and addresses the needs of the people, the country and the planet.”
The need for partnership and relationship building was key especially with young persons since they are not only engineers of hope but would inherit the rewards of the work currently being undertaken. The bank recognises that young people are the primary agents of change and as societal building blocks possess unmatched levels of innovation, creativity, and technological aptitude and continues to work to achieve positive youth development in its borrowing member countries.
Ajani Lebourne, chairperson, Saint Lucia National Youth Council (Interim) and Earlyca Frederick, mobilisation officer, Saint Lucia National Youth Council (Interim) expressed a need for economic restructuring, where young people are actively supported as the drivers of emerging industries. They renewed their call for the reorganisation of local economies to better serve youth as key contributors.
“Strategic investments in young people offer the returns of sustainable and resilient economies,” they stated.
According to the new CDB chairman: “It is important that an environment is created for young people to be allowed the opportunity to engage in activities that they enjoy. Our education system must be adjusted to reduce the mismatch between the skills required for the workforce. Despite greater access to education and health care than previous generations, our young males and females, across the Region, are among those who disproportionately bear the burden of poverty, marginalisation, and exclusion.”
The CDB is increasingly advocating for new approaches to resolve longstanding development issues faced regionally to address and accelerate meaningful development. The board of governors is the highest policy-making body of CDB and meets annually in one of the member countries of the bank to shape the work and agenda of the regional financial institution.
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