United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Didier Trebucq is not convinced that Barbados and other countries are on track to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) they are aiming for by 2030.
And he is calling on young people to help drive the necessary change.
Trebucq was addressing the Take #Oneaction for the SDGs Media Zone and Spoken Word Challenge at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) today, to mark United Nations Day, which is in its 74th year. UN Day is officially October 24.
“Today we wanted to hear from you about the future that you want, and what better way to do this than to talk about the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
“We know that we are not on track, and that is our main message. We are not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if we continue on the path we are on,” Trebucq insisted.
While congratulating the Mia Mottley led administration for its policies and progress being made in the area of youth development, and pledging continued support from the UN, the official said a lot more effort was needed.
“The work requires further action. The world requires, and each country requires the action of young people. So we need you to foster changes. And of course, the UN as an organisation is with you,” he said.
The SDGs are a set of targets agreed to by countries around the world in 2015 as it relates to human and country development.
They include the alleviation of poverty and hunger, gender equality, clean water and sanitation for all, good health and well-being, quality education, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, climate action, justice and strong institutions.
Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde agreed that young people had a major role to play in the country achieving the SDGs.
“As a country we cannot have a sustainable development goal and a policy unless it involves our young people. Whenever you talk about sustainable development you have to talk about our young people being the active players,” said Forde.
He said it was for that reason that Government has been developing and implementing various youth policies as it focused on tackling a range of social issues as well as challenges associated with climate change.
Pointing to the devastating impacts of climate change, Forde said it was critical that Barbados reduce its carbon dioxide levels and fossil fuel use, a mission he said government was working towards under the National Energy Policy for 2030.
He said government was keen on protecting its oceans, since this could affect the island’s bread and butter tourism industry.
“All of these things must inform how we as young persons threat to climate change,” said Forde, who put aside his prepared speech to “speak from the heart”.
“I know that the young persons we have in Barbados will do everything to protect the environment, their country. And I want to recommit as a government that we will also play our part.”
Director in the Office of Student Services at the Cave Hill campus Dale Lynch said global warming was threatening the existence of small economies in the region, adding that despite efforts, some gains were being eroded.
She said the university was playing its part in helping to ensure the sustainable goals were achieved through its education and social programmes and developing well-rounded individuals.
“The role of faculty in supporting national efforts to address societal concerns through research and projects is high on our performance agenda,” said Lynch, adding that the UWI’s social programmes provided a platform for students to give back to their communities.
Through the spoken word, representatives from the various organisations at the UWI shared their vision and put forward recommendations on how individuals, businesses and governments can take action against climate change and other issues in order to achieve the SDGs.
The Association of Bahamian Students emerged the winner in the spoken word challenge.