A meeting of policy makers in Brunei-Darussalam has the potential to amplify the voices of millions of young people from across the Commonwealth.
Aimed at exploring solutions to the many challenges facing young people, including a global economic slowdown and rising unemployment, the Commonwealth’s seven Asian-member countries brought together senior officials, national youth leaders and representatives from international youth development organisations for three days in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan to discuss the theme Resourcing and Financing Youth Development: Empowering Young People.
At the end of the intense deliberations participants recommended policy options and agreed on a regional action plan to be delivered by 2021.
The caucus of National Youth Delegates proposed the development of a regional youth mechanism to better represent and coordinate youth issues and priorities in the region, such as peace, climate change, education, capacity building and entrepreneurship.
They stressed the importance of coordinating national youth development initiatives in some member-states and implementing programmes at scale to meet the needs of the regions with a large youth population. They also acknowledged that youth ministers could be better supported, to coordinate national youth policy implementation, reducing duplication and enhancing policy coherence across various government ministries and sectors.
The meeting underscored the challenge of youth unemployment and took note of the Heads recommendation for a multi-sectoral approach to tackling the issue. Senior officials reviewed policy options and strategies to promote youth entrepreneurship using Commonwealth guidance documents and agreed to review current actions to align with the guidance shared.
All stakeholders and development partners welcomed strategies to enhance regional cooperation and collaboration on youth development priorities in support of national youth policy implantation especially common priorities such as youth employment or nurturing future-ready Asia youth.
Closing the three-day event, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland re-iterated the need for a multi-sectoral approach to solutions.
“It is impressive to see participants devoting so much time to contributing at sessions throughout, and speaks highly of the level of commitment on which we are able to draw and through which we mobilise Commonwealth action for youth – collectively and at regional and national levels,” she said.
“Returning to base – at ministries and on the ground - there is much to be done at whatever level and wherever we engage in order to fulfil by 2021 the mandates and directions delivered to us by Heads of Government and Ministers.”
Brunei’s youth leader Awang Aidil Firdaus bin Jukin told the gathering that the only way to be effective and efficient is to create more options for young people.
“I believe with continuous cooperation, closer collaboration and sharing of information and best practices that we would be able to apprehend any issues and problems encounter within the set targeted timeline. Towards this, extra efforts in guiding and providing youth in terms of capacity building and providing various platforms that can cater their diverse needs and wants should be strengthened through cultivating youth involvement. Creating a safe and conductive environment should also be our priority in order to create a sustainable, stable and future ready youth,” he stated.