10 Reasons why the Commonwealth Youth Forum mattersNovember 20th, 2015
At the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Malta, 300 young leaders (aged 18-29) from across the Commonwealth will come together to explore the key issues facing their generation, and determine their role in implementing the Global Goals. The agenda will feature issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation, quality and fit-for-purpose education, peace-building and social cohesion, and youth employment and entrepreneurship.
Taking place in the lead up to the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Forum is a five-day gathering of official youth representatives from our 53 member countries, leaders of various pan-Commonwealth youth networks, and other outstanding young Commonwealth citizens. It is held under the theme ‘Adding Global Value…#WhatNext?’
We asked ten Commonwealth dignitaries, senior government officials, and youth leaders why they believe the Commonwealth Youth Forum matters.
H.E. Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General, Commonwealth Secretariat
The Commonwealth is special in its work as a champion for young people, empowering them to participate in decision-making processes. As young people will be the ones living with the decisions made today, they should help shape them. The Commonwealth has robust youth networks offering new platforms for collaboration to ensure that the voice of young people is heard on the international stage. The Youth Forum brings these together as vital contributors to our Commonwealth summit.
Hon. Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth, St. Kitts and Nevis
The Commonwealth Youth Forum gives credence to the fact that young people’s voices and abilities must be involved in the global development agenda. It is significant that the Forum precedes the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, as it shows that young people’s concerns and aspirations will be considered and included. Young people are the leaders of today and tomorrow. May their deliberations lead to a better and more peaceful world.
Hon. Chris Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport, Malta
The Commonwealth Youth Forum provides us with a platform in which we can discuss together, openly and frankly, the many realities, challenges and opportunities facing young people in today’s Commonwealth. Young people are the future of the Commonwealth: let us take this opportunity to work together and build a future that embraces and empowers all young people.
Ms Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth, Commonwealth Secretariat
‘Empowerment of young people’ has become a ubiquitous phrase, but often the reality doesn’t match the rhetoric. The Commonwealth Youth Forum is one of the very few international platforms where young people can lead and participate in genuine, informed discussions on issues critical to peace and prosperity, and then share their agreed priorities and recommendations with policy makers at the highest levels. They also have a brilliant time engaging with peers of different cultures from across the Commonwealth!
Ms Fatin Arifin, Chair, Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs-Asia
As a representative of over 25,000 young entrepreneurs in the Commonwealth Asia region, this gathering matters because it is a great opportunity for us to promote the role of entrepreneurship in lifting economic growth and youth unemployment in the region. It also gives us the chance to present our views on the challenges that prevent the development of youth entrepreneurship.
Mr Ahmed Adamu, Chair, Commonwealth Youth Council
The Commonwealth Youth Forum plays an important role in strengthening youth advocacy and engagement efforts. It is also a time for the young people of the Commonwealth to come together, share knowledge, and benefit from the rich diversity that makes the Commonwealth so unique.
Ms Ellie Seckold, Co-Chair, 2013 Commonwealth Youth Forum Task Force
The Commonwealth Youth Forum is one of the rare opportunities in which young people’s innovative ideas and solutions are seriously considered by Heads of Government. At the Forum, these incredible young leaders are able to demonstrate their strong leadership, initiative and dedication to drive positive change within their communities. It therefore reaffirms to leaders that they have the skills and ability to be equal partners in making decisions about their future.
Mr Jean Paul Affana, Chair, Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network
It is invigorating to see young people coming together to reflect on #WhatNext. What makes the Commonwealth Youth Forum special is that we share our common values, our diversity and our perspectives. It is where the next 15 years of global development, and beyond, will be discussed through a youth lens and in a way that involves and recognises the capabilities of young people to play an important part, such as ensuring climate change is addressed with concrete action. That is why this gathering matters and will make a difference!
Dr Khadeeja Khan, Member, 2015 Commonwealth Youth Forum Taskforce
The Commonwealth Youth Forum is a unique platform that doesn’t believe in indoctrination of the old ways and customs in the new. It believes that young people are, not future leaders but present. And as leaders they are capable of not only taking smart decisions about their future but also being the driving force to deal with challenges currently faced by the world. The Forum recognises the true potential of young people which in turn creates a sense of responsibility to strive towards the future we all want.
Ms Tarun Butcher, CARICOM Youth Ambassador and Youth Forum Delegate, Belize
Fifty-three member countries, over 200 delegates…The Commonwealth Youth Forum is one of the best examples of how the Commonwealth brings people together to discuss substantive issues and work towards real change. I feel privileged to be able to meet so many amazing youth leaders from across the regions, and I can’t wait to work with them on #WhatNext.