Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley addressing the “Rapid Talk” Session session at Ilaro Court recently. She is joined by (left to right) UNCTAD Secretary General, Rebeca Grynspan; UN Secretary-General, António Guterres; and Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

FutureBarbados, a long-term public inspiration and innovation engine, has been created to fast track the transformation of this island into the best place in the world for young people to live, learn, create, do business, play, work, raise children, and dream.

That is according to Director at FutureBarbados, Tamaisha Eytle, who shared the background of the project, during a recently held “Rapid Talk” session at Ilaro Court with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley; Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, other high level delegates in for UNCTAD 15, and prospective candidates of Project CATAPULT.

Ms. Eytle highlighted that FutureBarbados – ‘The Future Starts Now’ – is an initiative conceptualised by Prime Minister Mottley and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, Jonathan Reid.

The first phase of FutureBarbados is Project CATAPULT.  In this phase, youth, aged 21 to 35, will be given an opportunity to submit their ideas on how to address a range of societal challenges facing Barbados, and an outlet to implement their solutions.

Ms. Eytle explained: “Project CATAPULT will be a six-month programme, and during the period, participants will work collaboratively, guided by strategic mentors, to investigate national problems and develop actionable solutions pivotal to our transformation. Participants will also have access to workspaces, subject matter experts, administrative support and an honorarium to research, design and blueprint high quality solutions to the challenges presented.”

The initial five intended areas of focus for Project CATAPULT are: to reduce childhood obesity; plastic pollution, carbon emissions and waste production; youth unemployment; as well as crime and violence, and to revisit education systems – one goal under this area is to have Barbadian students speaking a second language by 2026.

However, during the “Rapid Talk” session, Prime Minister Mottley disclosed that she plans to increase the areas of focus.

“I’ve quietly agreed to expand the challenges from five to seven.… I want to add mental well-being because I do believe that unless we can secure the mental well-being primarily of our children, that we cannot guarantee the best possible future for the majority of the society. And I want to know how we can secure that in a more meaningful way in the next five years….

“And challenge number seven relates to mastering the blue economy, not climate action, but mastering the blue economy, and the blue society in every way. I’m referring to swimming, water polo, fishing and all of the things that can be done to both sustain our action and our lives within the blue economy in a major tangible way,” Ms. Mottley revealed.

Within the coming weeks, the names of those recruits selected to be a part of Project CATAPULT will be announced.

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