Dozens of young people between the ages 13 and 18 from Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba have participated in the UNICEF ‘My New World’ project these past few months. Central to their advice was how their ideal world should look like in light of the corona crisis. The young people finalized the trajectory with an evaluation and reflection of the process. 86 young people from the six islands received ‘My New World’ certificates for their participation and the effort during the whole process.
The youth focused on the question: what topics should the government work on? This counts for both the local government on the island, and for the Caribbean Netherlands, the national government in The Hague. During the debate training, the young people learned how to make lobby plans and how they could explain and motivate their advice in a constructive manner.
“The training for the debate was extremely smooth and was loads of fun. This training set the standard of what needs to be done in a debate and how to debate on an international level. I felt that I was prepared for the debate and performed well”, #MNW participant from Sint Maarten.
Following the debate training, there was an interisland debate between the youth from Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, and Saba. At the same time, the youth from Bonaire debated with their peers from Curacao and Aruba. This way the debating skills the youth acquired could be put to practice right away.
“What I found went well was the interaction between the islands and the new information I learned”, said a participant from Sint Eustatius.
Conversations with the governments
On all the six islands, the young people had a meeting with their local government. Ministers, parliamentarians, commissioners, and island council members all had a moment to discuss the youth’s advice with them. Concrete topics were discussed such as the expansion of sports facilities, improvement of online education, and more possibilities for youth participation.
“I feel that we did get the opportunity to spread our ideas as youth and address our concerns”, said a participant from Sint Maarten.
Finally, the youth from Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba had virtual discussions with State Secretary Raymond Knops of the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations and with Member of Parliament Stieneke van der Graaf. Both discussed the advice and gave some practical tips such as for the young people to all to have a conversations with their schools and local newspapers to discuss their advice.
The ‘My New World’ project in the Dutch Caribbean is a cooperation between UNICEF, the governments from the different islands, and the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations. With the #MyNewWorld project, UNICEF and the governments want to emphasize the importance of giving children the opportunity to have their voices heard on topics that concern them both directly and indirectly.