Commonwealth youth leaders gathered in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, today marking the start of a week in which youth development will take centre stage.
Around 70 young people attended the opening of the Commonwealth Youth Leaders Forum, a precursor to the ministers meeting, which takes place from 17 to 19 April, also in Port Moresby.
They will be putting the finishing touches on a proposal to form the first Commonwealth Youth Council, an independent, democratically-elected youth-led body, which is expected to be ratified by ministers this week.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Vice-President of the European Youth Forum, gave the keynote address in which he outlined the important role of the Commonwealth in supporting and strengthening the development of national youth councils, and in shaping the post-2015 debate to ensure that youth participation is at the heart of the new development framework.
The youth leaders also heard from Loujaya Toni, Papua New Guinea Minister of Religion, Youth and Community Development, and Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.
Earlier Noelyn Wagapu-Tuza, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Caucus, called on her peers to engage in meaningful dialogue over the two-day meeting. Speaking to the theme, she said: “This is our chance to make young people the centre of sustainable development. This is our chance to make the Commonwealth stronger and more relevant – not just for youth, but for all Commonwealth citizens.”