JIS NEWS, Kingston: Jamaica’s youth will play a critical role in the execution of the seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP20), says Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie.
“It is critical that they are involved from a very early stage because what we discovered during the [Ministry’s] youth summer employment programme [is] that a lot of the information that we were able to collect on vulnerable areas and persons who would find it difficult to be relocated during a disaster, was prepared by the young people,” he noted.
He was speaking at a meeting in Panama City, Panama, on September 3 involving the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to discuss partnerships for RP20.
The three-day conference, scheduled for July 8 to 10, 2020 in Montego Bay, St. James, will review progress made on reducing disaster losses in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Regional Platform is being jointly organised by the Government of Jamaica, UNDRR and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Minister McKenzie said that youth volunteers will be drawn from the Social Development Commission (SDC) and existing school volunteer programmes to give input for various aspects of the conference.
“They have a vision in terms of what they see the future is, and I think their participation will be of great significance not just to the country but to the region in general,” he noted.
Mr. McKenzie underscored the Ministry’s continued engagement of young people not just through the summer employment programme but also through its junior mayor and youth council initiative.
UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Marita Perceval, echoed similar sentiments on the need to involve youth in disaster planning, noting that the young people “are not just victims; they are agents of change and we must begin to view them as such”.
Minister McKenzie is heading a delegation to Panama from September 2 to 6, to meet with the Advisory Council for the Seventh Regional Platform and develop the conference’s agenda.
The UN Regional Platforms bring together government officials and heads of disaster and emergency management agencies with key stakeholders in disaster risk reduction, to foster collaboration and the sharing of best practices and techniques.
The platforms aid countries in achieving the targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015.