Remarks by Ms. Renee Atwell, Dean of the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Corps at the commemorative activities at Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago, 4 July 2023
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, As we celebrate CARICOM’s golden jubilee, it is an opportune time to reflect on West Indian excellence and the legacy left by our forefathers. Today is a historic and momentous occasion. We congregate in Chaguaramas, the place where the founding fathers of CARICOM committed to economic integration and functional cooperation. This occasion evokes pride in our rich shared heritage and Caribbean identity. Though as a region, we have encountered numerous challenges, our passion, determination, and resilience have steered us to overcome them and we therefore have a lot to be proud of.
This is a critical time for reflection. A time to consider what more can be done to bring us closer together, who else can we involve to deepen our integration. Distinguished Heads, our youth, who constitute the largest demographic in the Community, must be involved in the integration movement. As the incoming Chair of CARICOM PM Skerritt said yesterday, the actions of our youth will determine where CARICOM goes in the next 50 years. I wish to assure you that the legacy of CARICOM and the path to regional integration formed by our predecessors is alive and well within, us, the young people of the region.
As we reflect on the past 50 years, we applaud the efforts made by the Community to facilitate youth development.
• We have contributed to regional decision making and policy development by making recommendations at HoG Conferences.
• We have been given opportunities to advance CCH in the region through technical training and financial investment for the implementation of national projects; and
• We have benefited from entrepreneurial initiatives such as the Aspiring Youth Empowerment Programme (AYEP).
However, there is indeed greater effort needed and significantly more to be done. As vested stakeholders in regional integration, the youth of the region are stepping up to the plate to work on furthering the goals of CARICOM and regional integration.
Looking to the future, regional integration is more critical now than ever before. The global paradigm is shifting, resulting in a far more vulnerable position for the region as a whole. To prosper despite this uncertainty, we as a region need to continue rejuvenated integration efforts, and in doing so, youth must be included, not only as participants but as facilitators.
Today, we call on you, our leaders, to draw on your spirit of resilience and take bold and decisive action to move CARICOM forward. In the words of the great Caribbean leader the late Marcus Garvey, ‘Up, you mighty race, accomplish what you will.’ We have the power to overcome our challenges, just as we have overcome many others in the past. Let us rise to the occasion, with determination and collective effort, to pass on to future generations an integration movement that has bloomed under our stewardship.