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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland speaking at the Commonwealth Youth Senior Officials Meeting in Ghana

Commonwealth needs ‘transformational’ young people, says Secretary-General

1 November 2019

The Secretary-General has called for “transformational leadership” in youth development across Africa and the Commonwealth.

Speaking in Accra, Ghana at a meeting of senior officials responsible for efforts to harness the potential of millions of young people, Patricia Scotland stressed the importance of close collaboration between member states and intergovernmental institutions.

The meeting was convened by the Commonwealth in partnership with the government of Ghana, to provide an opportunity to focus on the emerging regional and global youth development landscape and help identify priorities for action and track progress of actions agreed in 2017.

The meeting brought together senior officials responsible for youth, national youth leaders, youth workers and key regional stakeholders from across the Africa region.

Thanking delegates for their commitment to tackling youth development issues in their countries, the Secretary-General said there was still a lot of work to be done to fulfil the mandates of Heads of Government before they meet in Rwanda next year.

At CHOGM 2020, leaders will decide tangible policy actions on youth leadership, youth employment and entrepreneurship and human capital development, with a focus on the health and education of young people.

Noting that three out of every five citizens of the Commonwealth are under 30, the Secretary-General said significant challenges remain in how youth development is resourced, supported and financed at all levels.

The Secretary-General said: “We dare not become disheartened. The job we have to do is far too important to rely on our feelings. We must have faith in the young people we serve.

“Whenever the road ahead seems difficult and the challenges too many to count, go to a young person, share and discuss ideas and allow them space to contribute.”

Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Curtis Perry Okudzeto, said: “I’m hoping the different governments will take into consideration all that we have discussed during this roundtable.

“I believe this is a very potent platform created by the Commonwealth for us to come and share ideas on youth issues. I hope this creates more opportunities for our young people.”

The Secretary-General concluded her address with a passionate plea to young people, saying: “Today we need transformational youth leaders - young people who are responsible and committed.

“Transformation means not merely treating the symptoms but being bold enough to challenge the social, political, environmental and economic root causes that are generating the youth development challenges in our day.”