“Together we can achieve so much more” Malaysia’s Kishva Ambigapathy, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, told attendees on the opening morning of a CHOGM forum.
That set the tone for a busy afternoon schedule, which saw election hustings, plenaries and planning sessions all packed in before the end of the first day.
One discussion, titled ‘Co-Creating a more Secure future for all’ focused on how Commonwealth citizens can create an enabling environment to help promote peacebuilding, address violent extremism, and tackle security threats of the 21st century.
Ilwad Elman, Director of Programmes and Development at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, argued that the role of young people was crucial in helping to build peace. She went on to say that violent extremism was more than just terrorism and faith-based terror – it also accounted for issues such as gang violence and bullying.
In the second plenary, titled ‘Building a Prosperous Future For All’, participants addressed issues such as how young people can contribute to the Commonwealth’s inclusive and equitable development agenda.
The session also looked at how to create a stronger environment to promote gainful employment for young people and meaningful engagement in the labour market. Guest speakers, including President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo and President of Seychelles Danny Faure, also touched on areas such as how youth mainstreaming can foster holistic development outcomes for a prosperous Commonwealth.
During the course of the day delegates also heard from candidates who are standing in the elections for all nine of the executive positions in the Commonwealth Youth Council. The results will be announced on the final day of the Youth Forum on Wednesday.
In addition, delegates took part in action planning sessions which were structured around the four themes of CHOGM: prosperity, sustainability, security and fairness.
In one, President of Seychelles Danny Faure told participants, “60% of the Commonwealth’s population are under the age of 30. Youth empowerment is (therefore) critical in realising the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the aspirations of the Commonwealth Charter.”
President Faure also reinforced the need for youth and young leaders’ participation in achieving the SDGs, ocean sustainability and upholding the Commonwealth Charter.
Luke Oliver, UK Delegate from International Youth Taskforce, added, “I was in the security action planning session where we discussed the importance of cyber security and protecting young people online. It was inspiring to see young people identifying the real issues that affect them and creating action plans to make a difference. “
The events followed a packed opening morning, which saw newly-appointed Queen’s Commonwealth Youth Ambassador Prince Harry and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland address young delegates from across the 53 member nations.