On June 21, the halls of the Intare Conference Arena were filled with celebration and dancing as delegates at the 12th Commonwealth Youth Forum wrapped-up months of hard work and negotiations at a closing ceremony.
Their achievements include the installation of a new Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) executive and the creation of a strong, action-oriented declaration on youth-led development, which will be considered by heads of government at their summit this week.
The next day, their work began. Youth ministers and youth leaders who are part of the Commonwealth Youth Ministerial Taskforce sat together to discuss how they could collaborate on youth empowerment in the Commonwealth.
Engaging young people
Opening the meeting, Hon Sarah Nyirabashitsi Mateke, Chair of the Taskforce and Uganda’s Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, said:
“The purpose of the Commonwealth Youth Ministerial Task Force is to encourage a genuine exchange of views and bring together our expertise to monitor and track progress made to shape Commonwealth-wide youth policy. We will have a lot to do having just heard from the youth leaders in the CYF and from the heads on the commonwealth-wide policy.”
Presenting the points of the youth declaration to the Ministerial Taskforce, which has two representatives from each Commonwealth region and provides advice on the design and delivery of youth programmes, newly installed Commonwealth Youth Council Chairperson, Kim Allen, stressed the importance of engaging with young people.
“The Commonwealth Youth Forum statement provides priorities for governments and stakeholders to take action. Youth is a cross-cutting agenda and needs partnership and a collective approach from all stakeholders to address the issues that not only impact young people but also our communities. To understand youth issues, there must be an inclusive representation of young people across the Commonwealth in decision-making processes.”
Together the ministers and the young people charted a clear course for cooperation to achieve the goals of the youth declaration, which covers critical areas such as climate change, youth employment and entrepreneurship, Covid-19 and health.
Keen to build on the work of the outgoing CYC executive they reviewed the previous committee’s final term report.
Delivering the report of the last four years, outgoing CYC chairperson Tijani Christian said:
"What makes this report so ideal, is not just that it is a consolidation of programmatic activities over the past three years of the present Executive’s tenure, but rather, an organisational assessment of the Council’s mandate, in order to determine whether it is fit for purpose, since CYC’s establishment in 2013.
"Therefore, at this Commonwealth Youth Ministerial Taskforce Meeting, the CYC is able to offer insights into how their role can best serve young people and be aligned with the mandates of the ministers and heads of government."
During the meeting ministers and youth leaders also had consultative meetings with global youth organisations, including Volunteer Service Overseas International, World Association of Girl Guides and others. The organisations are due to sign an agreement to form an alliance, which will support programmes focused on soft skills such as leadership, and confidence-building and will complement formal education systems.
Ministers, youth leaders and members of the soon to be formed alliance left the meeting with a hope for greater coordination and partnerships to tackle the challenges in education, employment, and youth empowerment.
On Saturday young people will present their declaration and action plan to Heads of Government during a much-anticipated Intergenerational Dialogue.
- Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat