Ronelle King, Gender Rights Advocate and Founder of the regional Life In Leggings movement, recently delivered civil society remarks during Barbados’ Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York City recently.
During the VNR, Ronelle offered praise to the Government of Barbados for its steadfast dedication to promoting and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), even in the face of challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and climate crises experienced in the past three years.
Speaking under the Women’s Major Group (WMG), one key concern raised by the Barbadian Youth Leader, was the need for gender-responsive approaches to national climate policies and actions. She emphasized that women and girls bear the greatest impact of climate change because it exacerbates existing gender inequalities and presents unique threats to their livelihoods, health, and safety. She noted that these concerns are often overlooked when striving to achieve climate change goals.
She also inquired about the Barbadian Government’s commitments to protecting the rights of migrants and refugees and ensuring they are safeguarded from abuse, given their plans to encourage migration to address labor force deficits.
Additionally, Ronelle served as a youth panelist in a side event titled, “Youth engagement for systemic transformation at the SDG-Summit: Implementing the Global Sustainable Development Report call to action”. The event was hosted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and UN DESA on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In the youth panel discussion, the UN Young Leader for the SDGs and UN Youth Advisory Group Member for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean highlighted the underutilization of young people as resources by Caribbean governments.
The Barbadian Youth Leader acknowledged that young people are conscious of the current global and local challenges, and many have responded by initiating impactful campaigns, initiatives, and organizations to address the SDGs, often with limited resources. These youth-led efforts have either taken the lead in driving progress on certain SDGs or have filled gaps in local efforts. Thus, she advocated for Caribbean governments to recognize young people as collaborative partners and meaningfully engage them in sustainable development initiatives, not tokenize them.
In her concluding remarks, she spoke to how youth can utilize the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) to actively contribute to monitoring progress and holding stakeholders accountable. She highlighted how youth can monitor the actions taken by governments, businesses, and organizations in response to the recommendations and assess their effectiveness. She stated that by actively participating in monitoring mechanisms, youth can ensure transparency, accountability, and the improvement of sustainable development practices.
The United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is the central United Nations platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level. The Forum meets annually under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council for eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment and every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the General Assembly for two days.
The HLPF’s theme was “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels“. The HLPF in 2023 reviewed in-depth SDGs 6, 7, 9, 11 and 17. It was a pre-summit for preparing the SDG Summit to be held in September 2023.