The 8th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting ended in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, today with a commitment by ministers to push for the inclusion of young people in development planning and ensure their contributions and needs are prioritised, at the highest levels of government.
Their recommendations, after three days of deliberations, are outlined in the final communiqué, which will be submitted for consideration to Commonwealth Heads of Government when they meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in November.
Delegations from 30 countries attended the meeting. Two parallel forums: a Youth Leaders Forum and Youth Stakeholders Forum for civil society representatives, took place alongside the ministers meeting.
Two major outcomes from the week were the launch of an autonomous Commonwealth Youth Council and a proposal to reserve special seats in parliaments and other governance structures for young people.
The Council, a democratically constituted, youth-led organisation, will replace the current Pan-Commonwealth Youth Caucus and become the representative voice of young people in the Commonwealth. Ministers recommended the creation of a special fund to serve as a mechanism for the Council to mobilise and raise money to meet its needs.
The Commonwealth Youth Programme also presented the first global Youth Development Index to ministers, for review over the next two months. The Index will be used by policy-makers to monitor progress and determine investment priorities in youth development. Ministers agreed to take steps, where necessary, to boost capacity for the collection of quality, youth-specific data and thereby further strengthen the index.
On youth employment and enterprise, ministers committed to strengthening over the next two years economic policies to promote youth employment and enterprise and financial inclusion.
Ministers proposed that government ministries of finance, trade, commerce and labour, as well as central banks be involved in this process. Ministers endorsed the Commonwealth Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs as a model of good practice, to be considered for replication in other regions of the Commonwealth.
They further recommended that the Commonwealth Secretariat takes steps to ensure that youth development is adequately represented in the post-2015 global development framework, currently being negotiated at the United Nations, and that the framework includes a specific goal on youth empowerment and participation and that there should be youth-related indicators for all goals.
Ministers will recommend to Heads of Government that values-based leadership, human rights, anti-corruption and entrepreneurship should form part of Commonwealth countries’ education curricula.
The next Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting will be held in 2016 in Uganda. Ministers committed to meeting at a regional level in the interim.