14 November 2007
The Sixth Commonwealth Youth Forum was opened in Entebbe, Uganda today, 14 November 2007, by the country’s President HE Yoweri Museveni.
Also present were Mrs Florence Mugasha, Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and the Hon Syda Bbumba, Uganda’s Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Dr Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Habitat, delivered the keynote address on how young people are now better equipped and educated to address the challenges and opportunities that urbanisation and globalisation present. She stressed that young people should be seen as a positive resource for development.
Young participants from 48 Commonwealth countries are gathering in Entebbe to discuss the key themes of Sustainable Development and Climate Change; Conflict Management; and Social Transformation and Health, including HIV/Aids and substance abuse. The theme for the 2007 Forum is ‘Breaking Barriers: Unleashing Young People’s Potential for Development.’
The Youth Forum is the first in a series of official Commonwealth summits in the lead up to the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which takes place from 23 to 25 November, 2007.
Dr Fatiha Serour, Director of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), said: “Young people account for over half of the Commonwealth population and are therefore an important group to take part in CHOGM discussions.
“This is in line with the basic principle of the CYP programme which is that youth issues are development issues and as such, no national development, peace and security can be achieved without the participation of young people.
“For the first time, the Youth Forum will take up issues related to conflict management and social transformation as well as one of this year’s key CHOGM themes, namely Respect and Understanding. We expect the discussions to be challenging, maybe sometimes painful, but overall, positive.”
The Forum will conclude on 20 November, 2007 with the adoption of the Final Communiqué, which is usually presented to Commonwealth Foreign Ministers and Heads of Government at CHOGM.
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