By Samantha Semoso – EMTV Online
Representatives from Australia, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have agreed on strategies to ensure youth empowerment and development priorities are included in national and regional development frameworks.
Youth Ministers from Commonwealth countries in the Pacific have vowed to champion a greater focus on young people in decision-making processes, in order to achieve new global sustainable development goals.
The declaration was issued at the end of the Pacific Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting, which was convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat and hosted by the government of Samoa.
Ministers also resolved to work together to strengthen national youth policy frameworks and action plans across the region, and to provide greater support for the Pacific Youth Council and national level youth platforms.
The issue of climate change loomed large in discussions, with ministers heeding a call by youth representatives at a parallel Youth Leaders’ Forum to recognise young people as champions of climate change action.
“Young people are at the frontlines of climate change and already affected by its impact in their daily lives; and should be included I decision-making and action on climate change issues,” said one of the panel members.
“We will provide greater support to ensure that young people are empowered and equipped with the necessary information and skills to act as equal partners in the global and regional response to climate change,” they added.
The ministers agreed to “foster a culture of youth entrepreneurship” by including entrepreneurship skills curricula in both formal and non-formal education and training institutions.
Jimson Fiau Tanangada, Minister for Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs in the Solomon Islands, added “It has been important for us to all meet and work together this week to empower our young people.
“The opportunity to share examples of good policy and programs creates a domino effect. It has also been encouraging to note the youth leaders’ assurance that they want to partner with us. As Nelson Mandela said ‘we must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right’.”