Youth ambassadors to unite in Russia

Jamaican Tijani Christian and Russian counterpart shake on MOU agreement at the United Nations.

A delegation of youth ambassadors from Jamaica are readying to travel to Russia where the 19th Festival of Youth and Students will unite more than 20,000 young people from all over the world for active participation in addressing a global sustainable development agenda.

Tijani Christian who is chairperson of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council (CRYC) and Youth Ambassador of Jamaica to the Commonwealth and a Member of the CARICOM Single Market & Economy (CSME) will lead the group.

Two months ago, during the 6th United Nations Economic and Social Council Youth Forum, Christian — along with Grigory Petushkov, his Russian counterpart — signed a memorandum of understanding on youth cooperation and development.

“The MOU seeks to strengthen the role of young people in social inclusion, cultural diversity and multilateral cooperation in capacity building and partnership for educational and employment opportunities to facilitate the offering of capacity building, cultural exchanges, scholarships, internship and job opportunities in building higher levels of cooperation between the Caribbean and Russia.”

Both sides agreed that the signing “implies tighter integration in preparation of the festival, recruiting participants in the countries and promotion of the festival movement.”

Guided by the desire to develop closer cooperation in the field of preparation of the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students, Christian also vowed to facilitate the establishment of a National Preparatory Committees in the Caribbean to form national delegations for participation in the festival. In addition the agreement insured that the delegation would promote the festival at various events in the Caribbean by distributing information about its aim to being among the biggest non-governmental, international organizations, educational institutions.

The partnership agreement signed on Jan. 30 sealed an agreement to ensure greater participation of Caribbean youths as well as secure input for development of an agenda for discussion during the festival.

“Feel the future! Be leader!” formed a summation of the purpose and agreement on cooperation between the two councils.

In the presence of members representing CRYC, National Youth Council of Russia (NYCR) and the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations the two youth leaders inked an agreement of partnership for the festival slated to be held in Sochi from Oct. 14-22.

Approximately 700 delegates, including more than 35 ministers of youth policy, deputy ministers and heads of agencies of the UN member state participated in the forum.

Annually held since 2012, forum participants comprise membership from the Caribbean’s Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Montserrat, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Kitts & Nevis, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica.

Several UN agencies including UNESCO endorsed Russia’s initiative to host the international festival.

It will unite the community of young leaders in various fields – representatives of NGOs, youth, achievers in science, art, sports, pedagogy, IT, politics and some of the best representatives of the student community as well as youths who are interested in Russian culture.

Reportedly, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the youth gathering saying: “Aspiration to the future and desire to work on a new level in a new capacity” should underline the purpose of the Sochi gathering.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added that holding such events at the proper level “will contribute to the consolidation of an atmosphere of trust and understanding in the international arena, in promoting an objective image of our country, strengthening its position as a great cultural nation.”

The XIX World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi will be the largest event in the field of international youth cooperation and will bring together more than 20,000 young people from 150 countries.

According to Russian organizers, the festival will provide “a platform for dialogue, global form of communication: through discussions, cultural programs, sports, through free communication to find ways to confront the challenges that younger generation is facing today.”

Head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs Sergey Pospelov drew attention to the importance of including not only Russian youth and student organizations but also youth leaders from other countries, in the process of preparing and working on the event.

“The World Federation of Democratic Youth was immediately created after the Second World War with the support of UN agencies. The organization, based on the idea to unite the youth of the world and to struggle against fascism, dictatorship, pursues its policy in the framework of the activities of the youth policy of the United Nations. The festival is really important and significant event for young people around the world.”

The Caribbean council described the festival “as a strategic youth governance and advocacy movement with one voice working towards regional representation, integration and co-operation as a platform for youth development.”

Twenty-four-year-old Christian was among 60 young people from across the Commonwealth recognized last year as exceptional leaders in their community. He received a prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Queen Elizabeth II.

Prior to that in 2013 he won the Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Excellence. Christian championed the coveted prize in the leadership category. Acknowledgement on the web portal for the Jamaica Information Service notes that he is currently working on an initiative called Plant Jamaica, a non-governmental organization (NGO), which aims to promote sustainable livelihoods through community farms.

His NGO was formed to encourage people to grow healthy produce for their families.

Christian is also trying to launch an initiative called Commonwealth Emerging Leaders Connect, which will bring young leaders from across the commonwealth together to share knowledge and ideas.

The Caribbean council that he chairs was established in 2013 and unites 13 national councils of youth in the region.

Its mission is “to secure itself as a strategic youth governance and advocacy movement with one voice, working towards regional representation, integration and cooperation as a platform for youth development.”

It is supported by the Youth Division of The Commonwealth Secretariat.

Representatives from Jamaica are under the auspices of The Jamaica Youth Ambassadors Program (JaYAP) which was established in 2000 by the Ministry of Youth and Culture. Mobilized in accordance with a strategy to promote youth advocacy and facilitate youth participation in decision-making processes the organization has produced several youth leaders. Many of them have ably presented the island’s youth issues at the national, regional and international levels.

Participation in the Russian festival guarantees visa-free entry, hotel accommodation, fees for ground transportation, meals and cultural programs.

For more information about participation log on to or check the official Facebook page at

Anyone interested in sharing in this partnership may contact the secretariat of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council (CRYC) via email at [email protected]

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