Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The decision by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis to provide focused attention to the Federation’s youth, the elderly and differently-abled population was applauded by Cosbert Woods, United Nations Country Coordinator for St. Kitts and Nevis.
Mr. Woods’ comments were made at the official launch of the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities on Monday, February 20, 2023. In delivering the feature address, the UN representative credited the formation of the new Ministry.
“The formation of a dedicated Ministry to tackle the developmental and sustainable needs of the most vulnerable in our society is extremely critical at this time when we are grappling with global conflict, climate change, food insecurity and financial hardships,” said Mr. Woods. “More specific to our national context, St. Kitts and Nevis as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), is highly susceptible to a wide range of socio-economic shocks which place a huge burden on our limited capacity as a country.”
Mr. Woods noted that the goals of the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities are in line with several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We believe that the strategies and proposed activities outlined… are closely aligned to several UN SDGs geared towards achieving equality, preserving well-being and ensuring that no one is left behind,” he said. “Our recent work in the Federation has revealed that there are strong expectations from the youth, elderly and persons with disabilities regarding the work to be undertaken by the government to support them.”
He noted that the UN Secretary-General António Guterres stresses the need for transformation in 2023, which is grounded in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As such, the UN encourages the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities to “adopt a human rights-based approach to their work which recognizes the importance of addressing different segments of the population in vulnerable situations and unlocking socio-economic opportunities for development which considers factors such as age, disability, ethnicity, health status and place of residence.”
The United Nations Country Coordinator added that the organization is very pleased to support the Ministry and to “build on the recent work undertaken in the Federation.” Mr. Woods pledged the UN’s continued support in providing technical support for activities such as the “development of a Youth Engagement Strategy and Action Plan Climate Change which will also feed onto the new Youth Policy, as well as the disaster risk management work programme.”