IOM "Conversations on Migration in the Caribbean" supports deeper youth participation in dialogues on migration and climate change

Paramaribo, Suriname, 29 February 2024 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Caribbean Coordination Office held its fourth episode of "Conversations on Migration in the Caribbean" on 28 February 2024, at the Torarica Hotel in Paramaribo, Suriname. The panel discussion, with youth leaders from six diverse Caribbean civil society organizations (CSOs) engaged a live and online audience and explored the topic of empowering youth through more meaningful engagement in discussions on climate-induced migration. 

The young panelists represented the Aurae Opus Foundation and VIDS (Bureau Association of Indigenous Village Leaders) from Suriname; The Breadfruit Collective and SASOD from Guyana; the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities Inc., and the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council.  Iulia Duca, Programme Officer at the Climate Action Division, and Focal Point for CSOs and Youth at IOM Headquarters in Geneva, moderated the Conversation.   

The Conversation was led by three topic questions:  

  1. How to promote youth engagement in climate-induced migration discussions, so youth can be part of the solution? 

  1. What skills of youth in entrepreneurship, digitalization and innovation, can be harnessed for climate action? 

  1. How to build strong leadership, for youth engagement to address climate-induced migration? 

Judy Sango, the youngest ever President of the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities Inc, emphasized that “Providing education and creating awareness about climate change and its impact on mobility among youth and vulnerable groups is crucial.  Inclusion in decision making processes comes secondly; ensuring the active participation of youth and vulnerable groups in decision making processes”.  Nuravni Sallons, Managing Director of the Aurae Opus Foundation in Suriname, suggested speaking to youth in their own language: “What if we create awareness in the language that they understand? For example, you can involve the youth [with a] bottle made of biodegradable material for the party.”   

Shylina Lingaard representing VIDS (Bureau Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname) noted that “Indigenous communities are known to be guardians of nature. So, therefore, they also have their own traditional knowledge and mobility and way of living how to maintain and protect the forest.”  Joel Simpson of SASOD Guyana noted: “It’s very important that vulnerable youth are included and are a part of the conversation, young people whose socioeconomic circumstances make them more susceptible to human rights violations.” 

Christine Samwaroo of The Breadfruit Collective reminded that “When you’re thinking about everybody that's where you get the diverse solutions, and people who are closest to the problem, they are the ones that actually have the solutions.”  Dahvia Hylton, co-lead for the Research, Advocacy and Policy Development Committee within the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council noted the engagement must be timely and recognize the voluntary nature of CSOs “The processes have to change, they have to include a lot more time, and then include a lot more space for civil society to speak.” 

The lively exchange of perspectives and experiences took place with an active audience including government representatives from Suriname, IOM and other UN agency representatives, Youth Parliamentarians, students, and other Caribbean CSO representatives, plus close to 100 online participants.  It was also broadcasted locally on STVS television channel in Suriname. 

Conversations on Migration in the Caribbean Episode 4 underscored the critical role of youth and other under-represented groups who are affected by climate-induced migration, in shaping effective responses and building a more inclusive and sustainable Caribbean region.  The IOM Caribbean team and all CSOs involved hope that the outcome will be tangible actions to include Caribbean youth more meaningfully in decision-making that affects their present and future.  

The panel discussion was coordinated by the IOM Caribbean Coordination Office on the fringes of a “Regional Conference on Environmental Migration and Disaster Displacement for Caribbean CSOs” being held on 29 February and 1 March 2024, in Paramaribo.  Both events are funded by the French government as part of the Caribbean component of the "Implementing Global Policies on Environmental Migration and Disaster Displacement at the Regional Level" project.  IOM Suriname also provided support to this activity. 

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