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Youth forum ends with call for development fund

27 October 2011
"We are the dynamic drivers of progressive change in the Commonwealth" - says Chair of CYF Planning Group, Alan Huynh

Commonwealth youth leaders have called for the establishment of a youth development fund to implement core recommendations from the Youth Forum which ended in the Western Australian city of Fremantle on 27 October 2011.

The proposed fund would enable young people to take action on key issues including on governance, human rights, health, youth enterprise and environmental sustainability.

Among the 16 recommendations drawn up during the four-day Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) is also a request to governments to support the drafting of governance guidelines for national youth structures within a year.

“The Commonwealth of Nations has a responsibility to develop youth as one of its most valuable assets in the best interest of the Commonwealth and to ensure our future prosperity,” said the youth delegates in a statement released in Fremantle today.

“In order for the Commonwealth to be relevant and accountable to the needs of its 1.2 billion youth, it is critical that youth directly participate in all levels of decision-making and budget allocation, not only in policy and programme design, but also in implementation and evaluation,” they added.

Around 130 young people representing a cross-section of Commonwealth countries met in the days leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which begins in Perth tomorrow, from 28 to 30 October.

Core recommendations which emerged from the youth meeting include a charter on good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights to which member countries must be signatories.

Echoing the wider Commonwealth debate, the youth communiqué states that: “An independent body without any political affiliation and one which includes youth representation must ensure compliance of member states in upholding these principles.”

On health, the statement called for peer education programmes on healthy sexual practices and the strengthening of access to services for victims of violence.

It also called for governments and civil society to commit to a time-frame providing minimum access to ICT and to engage young people in decision-making processes on environmental issues.

In her speech to mark the end of the CYF, Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, who oversees youth affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “We consider and take your inputs very seriously as a way forward. The Commonwealth stands ready to work with and support you.”

Addressing delegates, Alan Huynh, Chair of the CYF Planning Group, thanked delegates, saying: “We are the dynamic drivers of progressive change in the Commonwealth.”

On Sunday, 30 October, the final day of CHOGM, ten youth delegates will meet with leaders for a dialogue to present their recommendations.