Africa Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers (AR-CYMM) will meet next week in Yaoundé, Cameroon for a three-day conference to address regional and global youth development challenges and opportunities.
Convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat and hosted by the Government of Cameroon, this first-of-its-kind meeting brings together ministers with responsibility for youth affairs, senior government officials and youth leaders from Commonwealth countries in Africa, to look at ways to improve the lives of young people across the region.
Under the theme, ‘Young people building a stable and sustainable future’, delegates will concentrate on a number of priority issues such as youth employment entrepreneurship, recognition of young people in national policies and the post-2015 development agenda, youth participation in decision-making processes, and the professionalisation of youth work.
Deodat Maharaj, Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, who will attend the meeting, emphasised that creating better opportunities for young people would contribute significantly to sustainable social and economic development across the region.
He said: “Investing in young people, ensuring decent employment and education prospects, and creating an enabling environment where creativity, leadership and energy can flourish, will invariably lay the foundation for more prosperous, healthier and stronger societies.”
He further noted that, “The Commonwealth has played a long and important global leadership role in advocating for young people. The continued and high-level commitment to youth is best exemplified by our theme for 2015, which is, ‘A Young Commonwealth’”.
In the Africa region, around 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30 and this is expected to grow even further in the foreseeable future.
The meeting, which will take place from 8 February to 10 February 2015, provides an important opportunity for leading voices in the youth sector to take stock of current trends in youth development in Africa and identify strategies and priorities for future action to advance youth empowerment in the Commonwealth.
Katherine Ellis, Director of the Youth Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat, described the meeting as “a significant and important step to build strategic partnerships between policymakers, youth leaders and youth development experts from African Commonwealth countries, and to stimulate commitments to build better futures for younger generations”.
She added: “Young people often bear the brunt of crises, be they related to finance, food security, climate change or conflict. With stronger structures and better resources, they can make a real difference to their communities and take a lead in development.”
The Youth Leaders’ Forum, organised by the Commonwealth Youth Council in partnership with the National Youth Council of Cameroon, will take place on 8 February, and the young people will then join the Ministers for their meeting on 9-10 February.
Since its early beginnings, the Commonwealth has pioneered global initiatives on youth development. This meeting follows the 8th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting held in April 2013 in Papua New Guinea, which brought together Youth Ministers, senior government officials and young leaders from across the Commonwealth to discuss youth policy priorities. The Commonwealth’s global Youth Development Index, the first of its kind, was launched at that meeting.