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Commonwealth workshop amplifies young Pacific voices

30 November 2018

Pacific Regional Youth Leaders gathered in Fiji to explore new strategies to strengthen youth engagement in tackling issues such as unemployment, inequality and education disparity.

A Divisional Manager for the Minister of Youth and Sport in Fiji, Valami Naloga, opened the workshop and thanked the Commonwealth for its commitment to youth development.

“We appreciate the Commonwealth’s continued investment in a meaningful engagement of young people, opening spaces for them to engage with decision makers while also giving them the skills, training and expertise to be effective in their work,” he said.

During the workshop, participants focused on climate change.  Their ideas included a model to replace plastic bags with traditional baskets to support livelihoods and environmental sustainability. 

Welcoming the participants, Sushil Ram, with the Commonwealth’s Social Policy Unit, said: “This training comes at a time when the Pacific is facing critical youth development challenges. It will give an overview of the Commonwealth’s work on youth policy issues, skills to realise the full potential, organise better and advance youth agenda in countries and region.”

The International Labour Organization’s Director for Pacific Island countries, Donlin Li stressed the “crucial role entrepreneurship can play in helping achieve decent work for young people”.  He said that entrepreneurship contributes to strengthening economic growth and realising the sustainable development goals.

Participants came from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu as well as from national, regional and Pan-Commonwealth youth councils.

Tahere Siisiialafia, from the Pacific Youth Council, spoke about the need to “advance and sustain youth development efforts in the Pacific region” by building the capacity of national youth councils.

The training concluded with a regional launch of the policy guide on youth entrepreneurship in the blue and green economy. 

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