Address by the youth at the closing ceremony of Youth Visioning for Island Living,
12th January 2005, Freeport, Mauritius
presented by Mr. Ronny Rengasamy on behalf of the youth from the AIMS region
Mr. Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, Mrs. Annan, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura,
Director General of UNESCO, distinguished Ministers and members of government:
We the ninety-six youth from 31 small island developing States and six other small island
nations have been meeting at the Pointe aux Sables recreational centre since 7th January
2005 for the ‘Youth Visioning for Island Living Forum’ which is a special event of the
UN International Conference on small island developing States, ‘Small islands, big
The Youth Visioning for Island Living initiative has been facilitated by UNESCO, in
partnership with the Government of Mauritius, UNICEF, the Indian Ocean Commission,
the Caribbean Community, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Secretariat for the
Pacific Community, Lighthouse Foundation and other strategic regional partners.
We would like to especially thank Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO
and his staff for initiating this process.
Our week has been exciting, has challenged our assumptions about development issues in
other small island states and, quite tiring. Our activities have included: panel and group
discussions and presentations, a field trip, and each evening we have had cultural nights.
We also participated in the launching of the Indian Ocean AIDS project – because, as you
know, youth are a major group vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Our delegates were also given
the honour of attending the official opening of the UN International Conference on small
island developing States at Domaine les Pailles. We appreciate this opportunity to link
into this important global decision-making forum.
The three themes discussed at the Youth Visioning meeting were: Life and love in
islands, My island home and Money in my pocket.
Our groups identified several important issues and projects as follow-up activities, which
we will carry out on our return to our home countries.
The forum has been really rich in terms of capacity building. But above all, this
tremendous sharing of experiences has enabled us to learn first hand about youth issues
and solutions in other small island states.
We know that we are very privileged to have been selected by our countries to attend this
meeting. For many, this has been our first international meeting, and we are committed
to sharing our experiences when we return home.
As a Mauritian youth, it has been a pleasure for me to welcome the youth from the
AIMS, Caribbean and Pacific regions to my country. I had so much fun trying to learn a
few words from the different languages and trying to teach Creole.
Now I have friends from all the islands around the world.
presented by Mr. Lyston Skerritt on behalf of the youth from the Caribbean region
As youth of small island developing States, we realise that we face a commonality of
challenges in environment, education, social and economic issues.
This has been our opportunity to unite and discuss our common problems such as:
Difficulties in balancing traditional and western cultural influences
Insufficient financing for youth-based projects
Brain drain of youth
Deficiency of entrepreneurial opportunities for youth
Need for more educational and technical projects
Security problems in a globalised world
Vulnerability to natural disasters
Our discussions have resulted in us sharing diverse and creative solutions to help address
these pressing matters.
Coupled with this has been the prospect to experience foreign cultures and norms, to
open parameters and broaden horizons as to the exact role of youth in society, our regions
and the world. This conference has provided small island youth with the capability and
capacity to return to our countries and be at the forefront in our countries’ journeys to
We understand that youth cannot bring about change independently. However, youth are
a vital resource that should be better utilised. The strong message that we wish to convey
is that our participation in decision-making is the key to good governance in small island
states and must in no way be marginalized.
(c) Where to now
presented by Ms. Fuarosa Tongi on behalf of the youth of the Pacific region
We, the youth of SIDS have shared among ourselves national issues and ways that
development is influencing our culture, environment and quality of life.
Our youth declaration for sustainable development of SIDS has been presented to the UN
International Conference on small island developing States, Small Islands – Big Stakes,
today. And we are thankful for this opportunity.
National commitments will be presented this afternoon by national delegates.
We are strong in our agreement that the strength of our cultural ways will be the
cornerstone for sustainable development and must guide the policies and actions which
will shape the future we want for our children and for our children’s children.
Some of the key challenges to youth emerging from our meeting are:
Transferring the commitments we have made into solid community based actions
Working to ensure the participation of youth at national-level decision making
forums, which is essential to achieve good governance. We believe that youths’
views and concerns must be taken into account in national decision-making
Providing for quality and relevant education for youth. We need the chance to
learn the knowledge and skills that are necessary if we are to work to ensure our
economic security. Achieving money in our pocket is a major step to reducing
the other negative effects relating to unemployment including crime, HIV/AIDS
and social instability
Creating and supporting youth employment opportunities in the work force or
private entrepreneurial activities. These will include small loans programmes for
youth and investment options.
Lastly, we the SIDS youth sincerely thank our host country Mauritius for making sure
that we had the best facilities for our meeting. Mauritius is indeed a beautiful country.
Our stay has been educational, culturally enriching, comfortable and very, very
interesting. Thank you, merci