Theme: “Preparing for the future through empowerment, growth and long-term sustainable development.”
It is a great pleasure for me to extend warm wishes to all Grenadians on the occasion of the 46th anniversary of our country’s independence. We have moved into the 21st century as a confident and proud people.
Over the past 46 years, we have grown as a nation; our people have become increasingly empowered, and we have embarked on a path to sustainable development. We are witnessing an important period in our history as the world has changed dramatically in the span of 46 years. It is incumbent upon us to keep abreast of changes that are occurring at lightning speed if we wish to ensure our continued success as a nation and also to recognise that much work still remains to be done.
To safeguard the progress made, we must make the necessary investment in our youth as they hold the future in their hands. We must also adopt suitable measures to protect our environment if we wish to ensure that our development as a sovereign nation is viable and sustainable.
We must prepare our youth for the world of tomorrow. Many are showing great potential and are clearly well on their way to leading highly successful and productive lives as they combine sport with academic achievement, excelling on both fronts.
To cite a few examples, Anderson Peters put Grenada on the world stage on 6 October 2019 at the IAAF Championships in Doha, winning a gold medal in the javelin throw, an outstanding feat of which Grenadians were justifiably proud. Congratulations to Anderson, his parents, coaches and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment and Sport! The Grenada National Swim Team was once again victorious in the recent OECS tournament in Antigua in 2019 and our bodybuilders continue to excel, with Damien Daniel emerging victorious in the International Federation of Body Builders Elite Pro Diamond cup in St Martin. Our netballers are also steadily improving their ranking internationally. I would like to commend all our successful athletes and sports personalities and to thank the coaches and all who play a part in shaping the lives of our young people through sport — one of the greatest builders of character and discipline.
Every year, over 2,000 young Grenadians graduate from our schools and colleges. While the importance of academic training should never be underestimated, our country urgently needs skilled personnel. This is an area on which we all need to focus, as possessing the right skill will ensure future employment. Skilled personnel are vital to support all sectors of our economy, particularly to bolster our growing tourism sector and boost our agro-processing and emerging manufacturing sectors. Our current efforts to develop strategies to facilitate job creation for our youth must be stepped up.
Young people should keep abreast of cutting-edge technology by embracing training opportunities in this area. The recently constructed furniture-making centre in Snell Hall, St Patrick is a step in the right direction and the Ministry of Education must be commended and this initiative expanded to facilitate additional skills training centres in various specialities in other parts of our country.
I must congratulate our young entrepreneurs who have taken the bold step of starting businesses in a variety of areas — from the production of fashion items and creative agro products to educational and IT support services. While our young men are leading in this area, it is indeed heartening that many of these young entrepreneurs are women. Empowering women is central to our growth and long-term sustainable development. This is especially important in a society such as ours, which has historically been patriarchal and will help us complete the process of true and meaningful independence.
Over the past few years, the adverse effects of climate change such as rising sea levels, short periods of excessive rainfall, and coral bleaching have become a reality for our country. The initiative to relocate the coastal community in Soubise affected by rising sea levels was timely and highly appreciated by all affected. Torrential rain in December 2019 caused severe landslides in the Birchgrove area, underscoring our vulnerability to changing weather patterns attributed to climate change.
With the ramping up of development in our country, particularly in the tourism sector, we have a responsibility to forge a path that is sustainable in the long term and to develop our infrastructure in an environmentally conscious manner. The recent slippage of a portion of the Western main road in Molinere, resulting in its closure, is a stark reminder of the need for proper planning and sound engineering policies and practices in order to minimise damage to our vulnerable coastal roads as well as those that run through our mountainous terrain and to reduce the inconvenience and loss faced by our citizens. We are an independent nation and the responsibility for our country’s development rests with each and every one of us.
Fellow Grenadians, we are a strong, resourceful and resilient people. Over the past 46 years, we have made tremendous strides on many fronts. Educational opportunities have increased and are being seized, our athletes and sportsmen and women are doing us proud, our tourism sector is expanding and our agriculture sector has been given a boost. However, much remains to be done if we are to complete the process of independence. In a spirit of unity and patriotism, let us strive to work together as one people and join hands and thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on us as we continue on a path of positive growth and sustainable development.
Happy Independence to all!