Opening session of the CARICOM Advisory Group on Statistics, Regional Data Collection and Citizen Security Indicator Technical Review Meeting, a USAID / UNDP CariSECURE Project

(CariSECURE – Strengthening Evidence Based Decision Making for Citizen Security in the Caribbean)

U.S. Ambassador Edwin R. Nolan

June 19, 2017

As prepared for delivery

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to represent the United States Government at today’s opening ceremony of the technical review meeting being supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

This meeting will address a number of important matters that will enable us to better understand, and design appropriate responses to, the growing incidences of crime and violence in the region.

These acts disrupt daily life and negatively affect development efforts.  They are one of the primary challenges faced by countries throughout the region.

As many of you are already aware, today’s meeting is part of USAID’s broader Youth Empowerment Services Project – or the “YES” program.  YES, as part of the larger initiative to create a safer and more prosperous Caribbean, promotes social justice and supports youth crime and violence prevention efforts in the region.

The YES program focuses on youth, aged 10-29, and will actively engage them as full partners in our efforts.  YES will enable policy makers to partner with community members in order to design and implement practical, transformative, and unique solutions for each community.

In conjunction with you, our partners, we will generate lessons learned that will improve our efforts to reduce crime and violence throughout the region.

Strong partnerships are the foundation upon which successful programs are built.  They enable us to improve our understanding of the challenges faced and to widen the expertise available to address them.

Prior U.S. Government programing in Suriname, such as the KARI Yu project – which improved youth livelihoods and supported juvenile justice reform efforts in Suriname – owes its success to these partnerships.

In collaboration with a number of governmental and non-governmental partners, some of whom are here today, the U.S. Government has worked to ensure that our citizens’ security programming is appropriate and responsive to the region’s needs.

Today, we will discuss ways to strengthen data collection so that it can be applied to designing future programs aimed at reducing youth crime and violence.

Access to reliable data is critical to gaining a better understanding of the crime and violence problem in the region.  For our partners to be effective they require a better understanding of where crime is occurring, the frequency at which it is occurring, and who the perpetrators and victims are.

Through the U.S. Government funded CariSECURE project, USAID, the UNDP, and other partners will strengthen a country’s capacity to collect data, support analysis to better understand data trends, and ensure the use of the information generated informs policy making and programming decisions.

One of CariSECURE’s main objectives is to support a culture of evidence-based decision making in the region.  In the coming days, you will discuss how to improve the collection of citizen security data, determine the appropriate indicators of measurement, and identify what data and products could enable you to strengthen youth crime and violence prevention programming.

By working together as a region on this shared challenge, I know we will benefit from lessons learned and see value in developing individual, and more importantly, common approaches to address obstacles that each country faces.

In a region that promotes strong freedom of movement and enjoys so many similarities, it makes sense to have shared descriptions for common occurrences and to develop uniform characteristics for how problems are defined.

Such an approach will allow partners across the region to jointly develop appropriate responses, share experiences, expertise and tools, and to address the challenges they face at a country level.

I’m pleased that through USAID’s CariSECURE Project, the U.S. Government can support a program that contributes to better data for informed decision-making.

I hope that your discussions today and tomorrow are fruitful and provide a useful and productive path forward.

Thank You.