Youth perspectives are key to finding solutions to most of the big challenges facing countries of the Commonwealth – and the Commonwealth collaboration and innovation can accelerate global progress towards a fairer, safer and more inclusive world. This is the message that rang loud and clear as Secretary-General Patricia Scotland hosted a group of exceptional young leaders, selected to be honoured by Her Majesty The Queen for their significant contributions to their communities, at the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London today.
Representing the full breadth of the Commonwealth, the leaders stressed the need for the youth to be given a stake in decision making processes. “The young people are not only the leaders of tomorrow but also the leaders of today,” said Mujtaba Zaidi.
Zaidi and 59 other young people are participants in the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders programme. Each of them is driving bold efforts to bring positive changes to their communities on a wide range of issues. One of the young leaders has already helped to save 1,000 lives by developing a smartphone application for emergency response, while another has developed a platform to teach youth about mental health issues.
The Secretary-General welcomed the sixty young people selected for the last of the four planned annual residential programmes, alongside Commonwealth High Commissioners and delegates from the Royal Commonwealth Society and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.
The Queen’s Young Leaders network of 240 award winners is now complete. Building on the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 2012, they are creating a lasting legacy in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s service to the Commonwealth as they connect, collaborate and continue to change lives for years to come.
In her opening remarks, Secretary-General Scotland said, “As exemplars of co-operation and innovation, and from the experience you are gaining through the Queen’s Young Leaders programme, you are showing each other - and all those with whom you come into contact - how we are able to achieve far, far more together than would ever be possible if we were acting alone.”
“As representatives of the vast range of talent and promise of our young people in every continent and ocean, you have a vital part to play both in setting and in realising our Commonwealth goals and ambitions,” she added.
The Secretary-General also encouraged the young leaders to embody and promote the commitments expressed in the Commonwealth Charter.
Following the opening address, the young leaders generated ideas on how member countries could take practical action to implement and advance the values of the Commonwealth Charter. They presented their recommendations to the Secretary-General and the High Commissioners.
Recommendations included a platform for Commonwealth youth ambassadors, a centralisation hub of entrepreneurs and innovators, a media toolkit for the promotion of the Charter, social media campaigns and integration of the Charter into school curriculums.