IOM ‘Conversations on Migration in the Caribbean’ empowers youth to tackle the intersection of climate change and migration

Day 1 of IOM  youth panel, photo: IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Caribbean Coordination Office recently convened its fourth episode of “Conversations on Migration in the Caribbean” on February 28, 2024, at the Torarica Hotel in Paramaribo, Suriname. This panel discussion, featuring youth leaders from six diverse Caribbean civil society organizations (CSOs), engaged both live and online audiences to delve into the theme of empowering youth through more meaningful engagement in discussions on climate-induced migration.

Representing various CSOs from Suriname, Guyana, Dominica, and Jamaica, the young panelists shared insights, experiences, and suggestions on promoting youth involvement in climate-induced migration discussions. The event, moderated by Iulia Duca, Programme Officer at the Climate Action Division of IOM Headquarters in Geneva, aimed to shed light on the challenges youth face in influencing climate actions related to migration.

The conversation commenced with Chermain Pansa, SDG Youth Ambassador in Suriname, and Ivette Patterzon, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Climate Change in the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment, setting the stage for a robust dialogue. Ms. Patterzon highlighted the Surinamese government’s commitment to integrating youth voices into critical discussions, emphasizing the need for diverse representation and inclusive decision-making processes.

The panel discussion revolved around three key questions:

  1. Promoting Youth Engagement: The importance of tailoring communication to youth and involving them in decision-making processes was underscored. Nuravni Sallons, Managing Director of the Aurae Opus Foundation, emphasized the need for awareness campaigns in relatable language and contexts.
  2. Utilizing Youth Skills: Panelists discussed leveraging youth skills in entrepreneurship, digitalization, and innovation for climate action. Christine Samwaroo, Founder of The Breadfruit Collective, stressed the significance of consulting affected communities, highlighting the abundance of diverse solutions from those closest to the issues.
  3. Building Strong Leadership: The necessity of nurturing strong leadership among youth to address climate-induced migration was emphasized. Joel Simpson, Founder of SASOD Guyana, advocated for the inclusion of vulnerable youth in decision-making processes, ensuring equitable representation and protection of their rights.

Throughout the discussion, the panelists reiterated the importance of incorporating traditional knowledge, particularly from indigenous communities, into climate resilience strategies. Shylina Lingaard, representing VIDS (Bureau Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname), emphasized the vital role indigenous peoples play as guardians of nature and holders of invaluable traditional knowledge.

Judy Sango, President of the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities Inc., stressed the need for educating youth about climate change and actively involving them in shaping solutions, stating, “Providing education and creating awareness about climate change and its impact on mobility among youth and vulnerable groups is crucial. This can be done through workshops, seminars, campaigns and educational programmes focused on climate change and sustainable transportation. Inclusion in decision-making processes comes secondly; ensuring the active participation of youth and vulnerable groups in decision-making processes related to climate mobility is important. Their voices and perspectives should be heard and considered in shaping policies, strategies and innovative solutions.”

Dahvia Hylton, co-lead for the Research, Advocacy, and Policy Development Committee within the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council, highlighted the challenges of timely engagement and the importance of providing adequate space and support for civil society participation in legislative processes.

The panel discussion was organized alongside the “Regional Conference on Environmental Migration and Disaster Displacement for Caribbean CSOs,” currently underway in Paramaribo, with support from IOM Suriname. Attended by government representatives, UN agency officials, youth parliamentarians, students, and Caribbean CSO representatives, the exchange demonstrated the collective commitment to empowering youth in climate action. The event was broadcast locally on STVS television channel in Suriname.

Additional assistance was provided by the French government, as part of the “Implementing Global Policies on Environmental Migration and Disaster Displacement at the Regional Level” initiative, underscoring the aim of amplifying the agency of the youth in matters of climate action and migration, moving forward.

Forthcoming opportunities, such as the 4th Conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Antigua and the ongoing CARICOM-led process on migration policy, offer avenues for further collaboration and action.

 See live stream of panel discussion here, credit STVS Suriname:

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