Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. (PMO/FP)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has underscored the importance of empowering young people to become global citizens.

Ms. Mottley stressed this point today as she delivered an address at the opening of the three-day UNCTAD Youth Forum, under the theme: Pull up: Change Di Riddim. The forum focuses on innovation, inclusion and youth empowerment for developmental transformation.

The Prime Minister said: “I speak often about the need for us to empower our young people to become global citizens, with Barbadian roots.  I believe that that has to be the goal of all of today’s leaders, to nurture a generation rooted in the culture and values of their nation, yet confidently global in their thinking and their outlook. That is my fervent aspiration … for all of our young people.

“Our world needs it now more than ever – that commitment to the global realities that must reflect the best of who we are; the humanising influence that will cause us not to have the kind of schisms and separations that have caused too many people either to die, or to be sealed into deprivation and poverty, and lack of opportunity.”

Acknowledging that these are difficult times, especially for young people, Ms. Mottley encouraged the youth not to become dismayed. She suggested that their resilience, hope and passion would help the world to rise beyond this point.

She reminded all that a century ago our grandparents went through the hardships of World Wars I and II, the Spanish Flu and Great Depression, but their resilience assisted them in overcoming the challenges. 

“It is the resilience and that capacity to think positive, that will make the difference. This unique moment in time tells us all to pause and to reset, to pull up, to change ‘di riddim’.  It may be hard to appreciate, but … there has never been a better opportunity for you to step up and to be that change.

“We should not want to build back better, we should always want to build forward differently. Differently in a way that is more equitable and capable of providing greater opportunities and greater protection for those most vulnerable, and indeed the nurturing of our environment within which we live…,” she said.

Ms. Mottley proffered that the great disruption caused by the climate crisis and pandemic had opened doors for transformative action.  

She told the young people that as they brainstormed and networked over the three days, they should think deeply on what were the greatest threats, and how they would act together to prevent them from endangering the world.

Additionally, she indicated that technology was at their disposal to spread ideas, agitate, educate and build movement for change, and encouraged them to use it to become activists in shaping the future of national and international governments.

The forum will continue during UNCTAD15, from October 3 to 7, where forum participants will be offered the opportunity to share their views with global leaders and present their Youth Declaration.

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