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Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, with ministers and students in brunei

Brunei meeting to boost Commonwealth youth development policies

23 August 2019

The role of young people in the development of Commonwealth countries will be the focus of a high-level meeting in Brunei from 27-29 August.

The Commonwealth Asia Region Senior Officials Meeting will allow participants to assess progress on agreed youth policy priorities and finalise a regional strategy aimed at improving the wellbeing and livelihoods of young people in the Commonwealth.

The event will allow representatives of member governments and other key youth development stakeholders, including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN partners to exchange ideas, share creative strategies and agree on common approaches to accelerate youth policy implementation in member states.

Sixty per cent of the Commonwealth’s population is under the age of 30. Under the theme, Resourcing and financing youth development: empowering young people, youth ministries, youth leaders and youth workers will identify the main issues, challenges and opportunities faced by the 1.7 billion young people under age 25, of which 525 million are aged between 15 to 29.

At the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018, leaders acknowledged that youth empowerment is critical in realising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the aspirations of the Commonwealth Charter.

Ahead of the meeting, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The 2030 targets are much more than boxes to tick in a global work plan; they are crucially important steps towards transforming the lives of the neediest and the most marginalised people in our countries and communities, which, unfortunately, often include the youth.

“If we don’t find a way to ensure our large population of young people are empowered, prospering and progressing towards a bright future, then we would have failed to deliver on the global commitments made under the 2030 Agenda.”

The meeting will include representatives from Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.

The Commonwealth’s head of social policy, Layne Robinson, says this is as an important opportunity to pause and reflect on what is working and perhaps more importantly what is not working since policy recommendations were agreed at the 9th Commonwealth’s Youth Minsters Meeting in Uganda in 2017.

He said: “The Commonwealth will continue to partner with and support our ministries and departments of youth because we recognise the benefits of harnessing the talent, ingenuity, and resourcefulness on offer from our diverse and powerful youth population.

“With many of our nations experiencing a demographic bulge of younger people, and in particular Asia having the largest youth population, partnering with young people becomes ever more important to our collective Commonwealth engagement.”

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