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Commonwealth youth – the ‘gems’ at the heart of CHOGM 2018

20 September 2017

Young people will be at the heart of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London next April. That’s according to the UK prime minister, Theresa May, as she launched the theme for CHOGM 2018, ‘Towards a Common Future’.

She set out four main goals for the biennial meeting: prosperity by boosting intra-Commonwealth trade; security by greater cooperation to tackle global terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime; fairness through promoting greater diversity and good governance; and sustainability by building resilience among small, developing and vulnerable states to deal with climate change.

“For the Commonwealth to have a future as vibrant as its proud past, it must remain relevant to its youngest citizens and answer their ambitions for a better life,” said Mrs May. “That is why we will put young people at the heart of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London and Windsor next year. The message of that summit, ‘Towards and Common Future’, encapsulates our ambitions for that event.”

The reception for Commonwealth leaders, on the margins of the United National General Assembly in New York. was co-hosted by the current CHOGM chair in office, Malta.  Sixty per cent of the Commonwealth are youth under the age of 30.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said, “We have the most wonderful opportunity here together as a Commonwealth family. We live in troubled and troubling times, and one of the most wonderful opportunities we have is to share our common values, our common future and our common determination to have a world which is worth living, for our children.”

Among the guests were youth representatives from across the Commonwealth. They will help to deliver the Commonwealth Youth Forum at next year’s CHOGM.

One of the organisers is the Forum’s co-chair, Angelique Pouponneau, vice-chairperson for Inclusion and Engagement at the Commonwealth Youth Council, said “We are living through an era where the chaotic state of affairs is slowly becoming the norm. But despite that, young people and member governments continue to make significant contributions towards making the Commonwealth safe, fairer, more prosperous and more sustainable. In this room alone, you are in the company of some gems of the Commonwealth.”

The forum will be a three-day event just before CHOGM. Among the topics to be discussed are equality, child poverty and climate change.  

“The Commonwealth Charter, signed by The Queen and endorsed by all member states recognises the potential of the Commonwealth to act as a force for good,” said the Forum’s co-chair Leon Ward. “To protect our Commonwealth, we have to change it. To make our Commonwealth relevant, states must start pushing one another to change and to improve. It is in the interests of all Commonwealth states to do this. The UK is particularly keen on using CHOGM 2018 to bring the Commonwealth back into relevance. I call on all of you across our Commonwealth to be bolder and truly to be a force for good. Your Commonwealth, my Commonwealth and our Commonwealth are waiting on you to deliver.”

CHOGM takes place between 16 and 20 April 2018. 

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