Norit Luio is clearly passionate about his new role working for the youth of Papua New Guinea as the country's acting youth commissioner. He is also frank about the need for governments to take young people seriously.
Speaking ahead of the 8th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting, which begins on Wednesday, 17 April, he explained why this summit is so important to his country, and to the young people of the Commonwealth: “Papua New Guinea is proud to be hosting this meeting. It’s going to be an historic event for us and one that will take youth work to a different level in this country,” he said yesterday.
Stressing that the time for action had come, Mr Luio said he is looking forward to meaningful discussions at the youth ministers meeting, where young people are the central focus.
Mr Luio also highlighted the significance of investing in young people: “We normally talk about the future – who is the future?” he asked. “The bridges, the infrastructure, the economic investment – they are not the future. The future is the people. We have to increase the level of investment and provide for the young people so we have a better future,” he said.
The issues facing young people in Papua New Guinea, including unemployment, drugs and alcoholism, are no different to that of youth in other countries, Mr Luio explained. These challenges can only be met if there is support at the highest level.
Mr Luio, who is also deputy chair of the national taskforce organising the summit, said it had been a new challenge for him, and that he is looking forward to interacting and learning from his peers – experienced people from different backgrounds.
Looking ahead, he noted the value of partnerships and collaborations to strengthen advocacy and action: “The Commonwealth is doing a great job bringing a level of awareness to youth development. We would like to work closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat, neighbouring countries and other regional members of the Commonwealth to share concerns and opinions and to come up with a grand strategy to combat the issues and challenges facing young people today.”
Over the three days of the meeting, delegates will deliberate issues of youth development, including the economic empowerment of young people, the promotion of values-based leadership and the integration of young people into the design and execution of development strategies.
There will also be sessions where young leaders participate in the ministerial discussions. The ministerial meeting runs alongside a Youth Leaders Forum, which begins today, and a Youth Stakeholders Forum for civil society representatives, which starts tomorrow.