Representatives of the 11 youth groups who are convening the Youth Summit on Crime and Violence, pose for a group shot holding SDG 16 - the highlight goal for the 2 day event.

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A virtual Youth Summit on Crime and Violence is scheduled for World Peace Day September 21 to 22, with a spotlight on youth-led crime prevention efforts targeting citizen safety and security.

The Youth Summit was announced last week on International Youth Day by youth leaders and the United Nations Development Programme Multi Country Office in Jamaica. Registration is now open to youth, youth groups, development professionals and all other interested persons, at www.readysetgreatja.com.

The event is supported by UNDP under the auspices of its Amplifying Youth Voice and Action (AYVA) project in partnership with UNESCO Caribbean, Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, Planning institute of Jamaica and RISE Life Management Services.

Youth leaders will showcase citizen safety and security solutions spearheaded by their organizations with UNDP grant funding through the AYVA project and make the case for greater inclusion of young people in the development and implementation of policies addressing crime and violence.

Youth groups scheduled to present include: I-SEEED Youths; Youth Inspiring Positive Change Ja. Ltd | YIPCJA (Positive ORG); Bully Proof Kids International (BPKI); National Police Youth Club Council Of Jamaica (NPYCCJ) Total Health Services; Norwood Community Development Benevolent Society (NCDCBS); The Every Mikkle Foundation; Called to Lead Jamaica; The Jahmekya Project and Youth For Development Network; Young Women/Men of Purpose (YWOP/YMOP). They are joined by Youths For Excellence, a regional youth NGO headquartered in Jamaica.

In a joint statement issued on International Youth Day to announce their Summit, the youth leaders said they can and do play active roles as agents of positive and constructive change and believe that youth should be more involved in crime prevention and mitigation strategies. “Don’t just consult us for our ideas. Involve us in implementation and execution,” they declared. Recalling United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, the youth reminded policy makers of the resolution’s assertion that “young women and young men have a critical role in promoting and maintaining international peace and security.”

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio said UNDP is privileged to be working with the young people on testing their citizen safety and security approaches with an eye to upscaling promising projects. She said the Youth Summit was an excellent platform for showcasing the capabilities of youth innovation through the AYVA project and uncovering other youth initiatives that tackle crime and violence from its foundations. “The challenge of crime and violence needs the inputs of the future generation who stand at its epicenter. We must facilitate and nurture the creative energies of our young people to secure a viable future and to ensure fulfilment of Sustainable Development Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” she said.   

In underscoring the need for the Summit, UNESCO Caribbean’s Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences, Paula Isturiz Cavero, noted that 63% of population in the Caribbean are under the age of 30 making youth the key demographic that needs to be heard and meaningfully engaged.  “Unfortunately, young people in the Caribbean face increasing levels of violence and crime which are also considerable bottlenecks towards achieving sustainable development. But when youth are provided with opportunities for engagement and participation they can capitalize on their resiliency and become invaluable assets for peacebuilding and agents of positive change,” Ms Cavero noted.

In a message delivered on behalf of the PIOJ, Programme Administrator, Jovi Williams noted that the PIOJ readily endorses the AYVA project and the Youth Summit because of the vulnerability of young people to many challenges including crime and violence. She said there is anticipation that the youth organizations will succeed in their mission to demonstrate innovative approaches to addressing citizen safety and security.

In representing RISE Life Management, managers of the on-granting process of the AYVA project, Programme Manager Shawn McGregor said his organization is excited by the prospective impact of the 10 ten projects on their communities and was committed to ‘hand-holding’ and guiding the groups through to successful implementation of their projects.   

The two-day event will culminate with UNDP’s annual Development Challenge for tertiary students from Jamaica, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands – nation states served by the UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica. The Youth Summit is the 2021 staging of UNDP’s annual Ready Set Great initiative, an annual showcase of youth doing great things to develop their country. The first Ready Set Great was staged in 2020 focusing on youth response and recovery in the era of COVID-19.

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