‘Talk, youth’

Jamaica Gleaner - - CLASSIFIEDS - Pwr.gleaner@gmail.com

AS JA­MAICA grap­ples with pol­lu­tion and as­so­ci­ated im­pacts, in­clud­ing a re­cently flooded Mar­cus Gar­vey Drive in the cap­i­tal, youth are to get their say on waste man­age­ment on the is­land.

This is cour­tesy of the Ja­maica Youth En­vi­ron­men­tal Ad­vo­cacy Pro­gramme (YEAP) launched ear­lier this year.

Stu­dents from 10 schools in the west are to gather at The Man­ning’s School next month to hear from rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Na­tional Solid Waste Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity, the Min­istry of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment, the Na­tional En­vi­ron­ment and Plan­ning Agency, and one re­cy­cling en­tity on the topic – and pro­vide feed­back.

“We want to raise the aware­ness of the youth so that they can take in­formed and con­struc­tive ac­tions now and in the fu­ture. They should be able to ad­vo­cate for them­selves what it is they want, rec­om­mend what ap­proach should be utilised and share with us their ex­pe­ri­ences,” said Gil­lian Guthrie, se­nior direc­tor of the En­vi­ron­ment and Risk Man­age­ment Divi­sion at the Min­istry of Eco­nomic Growth and Job Creation, which has re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate-change is­sues.

YEAP is in­tended to pro­vide a plat­form to youth ages 11 to 19 years old, for in­ter­ac­tive di­a­logue with pol­i­cy­mak­ers and other stake­hold­ers on na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

“We want a youth voice to in­form the de­vel­op­ment of na­tional pro­grammes and poli­cies,” Guthrie said.

“Nor­mally when we do con­sul­ta­tions on na­tional poli­cies, there is no con­certed ef­fort to con­sult the youth, but the youth, we re­alise, have an in­ter­est and they have ideas and rec­om­men­da­tions, which could be use­ful in fi­nal­is­ing th­ese na­tional poli­cies and which would be more tai­lored to ad­dress their is­sues and con­cerns,” she added.

The min­istry, Guthrie said, is also in­ter­ested in help­ing to cul­ti­vate ad­vo­cates for the en­vi­ron­ment.

“We are hope­ful that with rais­ing the aware­ness and hav­ing this in­ter­ac­tive di­a­logue with the youth, they will be able to ad­vo­cate for en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues of con­cern and in­ter­est to them. We are also hope­ful that the youth will be able to pro­vide in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions, op­tions that may not have been con­sid­ered to solve some of Ja­maica’s en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges,” she said. YEAP was of­fi­cially launched by Min­is­ter Daryl Vaz at Holy Child­hood High School in Kingston in July, with the plan to have three to four re­gional events each year – the event at The Man­ning’s School be­ing the first. On en­sur­ing that out­comes from the dif­fer­ent en­gage­ments bear fruit, Guthrie said: “Nor­mally, there is a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment pre­sented, and that doc­u­ment is posted for the wider com­mu­nity to view. We will have as part of that doc­u­ment now the youth com­po­nent.”

“How we go to the youth with th­ese doc­u­ments will be dif­fer­ent from how we go to every­body else. We will have to find a way to break down the draft doc­u­ment,” she added.

Stake­hold­ers out­side the min­istry will there­fore be en­listed.

“The min­istry does not have all the com­pe­ten­cies. Many agen­cies are in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of na­tional poli­cies and pro­grammes and de­pend­ing on the topic, we will in­vite the rel­e­vant pub­lic sec­tor agency rep­re­sen­ta­tive at a se­nior level, academia, and non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions to as­sist us in hav­ing this di­a­logue with

the youth,” Guthrie said.

At the end of the day, the pro­gramme – cur­rently funded from gov­ern­ment cof­fers – should be what­ever the youth make of it.

“What­ever they want it to morph into, it will morph into so that it re­sponds to them.”


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