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CDB Launches Youth for Innovation and Resilience (Youth FIRE) Programme 2023 to support inclusive and equitable development in the Caribbean

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: The Caribbean Development Bank, (CDB) on June 13, 2023, launched its 2023 Youth for Innovation and Resilience (Youth FIRE) Programme aimed at supporting inclusive and equitable development in the Region through youth empowerment and engagement. The launch was held at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in Saint Lucia.

Scheduled to run from June 13 – 16, the Programme includes the Youth FIRE Forum, a one-day event targeting young persons, aged 15-35; the inaugural meeting of the Bank’s Future Leaders Network (FLN), where the 17 Network members and two advisers will take part in two days of personal and professional development and capacity building; and the Youth FIRE Expo, which will showcase the work of young innovators and entrepreneurs across Saint Lucia at the Constitution Park, in Castries on Friday, June 16.

The Youth FIRE Programme forms a core part of the CDB’s strategy to reach youth; support strategic career guidance and life skills training and gather insights from young people regarding its programming and policy for youth development and broader sustainable development. Speaking at the launch, CDB’s Director of Projects, Mr Daniel Best, emphasised that the Bank remains committed to creating seats at the table for youth.

“While many young people excel, far too many continue to face uncertainty. Across the CDB’s programming and through the work informed by our 2020 Youth Policy and Operational Strategy, we have increased our youth engagement and our focus on ensuring that all investments -in areas including education and training; citizen security; and agriculture; among others, recognise, utilise, and support the building of young people’s capacity,” he said.

“In these trying times for us as Small Island Developing States, we must take the future into our hands. We must be bold and augment or refashion solutions to fit the Caribbean’s reality. You, our young people have the ingenuity and creativity for this mission. You remind us that you are not just the future, you are the now,” Best added.

Saint Lucian Minister of Youth Development and Sport, Hon. Kenson Casimir, noted that the country had taken the lead in the Region in youth innovation and inclusive empowerment for young people, instituting a youth economy agency to deal with every social ill within communities in the Caribbean nation. “It is a novel idea that says to young people that we believe in you. This a novel idea that says to young people (sic) that your ideas can change the landscape of Saint Lucia. With this idea, we have seen over 200 applicants in less than six months of the establishment of this agency (and) it says to us that young people were ready and waiting, wanting to be productive to the economic development of their country,” Minister Casimir said.

The CDB’s youth engagement programme was rebranded ‘Youth for Innovation and Resilience (Youth FIRE)’ in 2022, with a greater focus on inclusion of participation by, perspectives of, and support to capacity building to ensure meaningful participation of, youth with disabilities, youth from underserved communities, migrant youth and indigenous youth and reflect the Bank’s commitment to respond to recommendations from young people regarding branding, content, and methodology.

The 2023 programme formally introduces the Bank’s FLN – an institutional mechanism for youth engagement and empowerment and to promotes youth mainstreaming in the Bank’s Operations.