JIS: International Youth Day (IYD) is observed globally on August 12 each year to raise awareness on issues that affect youth. The theme of this year’s IYD is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption.”

 

More than 500 million youth worldwide live in poverty and lack access to vital resources to secure their basic needs. Available data indicate that the Caribbean youth population is 25% overall and for Jamaica the population less than 24 years is 46%.

 

This cohort faces a number of challenges including high levels of unemployment, which not only inhibit national economic development but also have adverse social consequences including poverty, risky behaviours and concomitant negative outcomes.

 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Vision 2030 Jamaica require us to balance the needs of present and future generations, create economic growth without destroying natural resources and reduce consumption while enforcing well-being and dignity.

 

Essential to this is the realization of young people’s rights to participate in the political, economic and social life of their communities and countries, and to freely make informed choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health without discrimination, violence or coercion.

 

Countries need to invest in the health and education of their youth populations, particularly girls, and create opportunities for them to achieve their full potential. This will contribute to the realization of the demographic dividend, which can propel national economic growth.

 

These combined interventions are critical in order to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, strengthen the resilience of populations in the face of all challenges and seize the opportunities of the new economy.

 

Young people have the most to gain if we succeed in eradicating poverty, and the most to lose if we fail. They must be engaged and empowered as partners in achieving national sustainable development goals, as they are the generation that will inherit our planet.