It was no coincidence that youth leaders from all over the Commonwealth were given the opportunity to come to London to network, collaborate and be inspired at the Commonwealth Youth Leaders' Summit, held in March 2023. This year has been designated as the Year of the Youth by the Commonwealth Heads of Government at the last CHOGM in Rwanda.
Those leaders asked for a year that is, "dedicated to youth-led action for sustainable and inclusive development and called on all stakeholders at all levels to renew and strengthen their commitment to youth engagement and empowerment".
As one of the milestone activities during the year, the Commonwealth Secretariat's Social Policy team ensured leaders from across the 13 youth networks were placed at the centre of events surrounding Commonwealth Day.
From a reception at Buckingham Palace to training events to equip them with usable skills, youth leaders were empowered with experiences that they say will last them a lifetime. Sixty young people were able to have conversations with Government officials and other leaders as well as learn from talented professionals. They also were given presentations about the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat and met with Division leaders and their teams.
Learning and growing
Over the two weeks, they received training in:
- Policy Development
- Strategic Planning
- Mobilising Resources
- Building Partnerships
The young people were also given talks and training by experts such as Prof Luis G Franceschi, Assistant Secretary General, Commonwealth Secretariat, Stephen Twigg, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Dr Anne T. Gallagher AO, Director General of the Commonwealth Foundation and Jennifer Jones, President Rotary International, among others.
One of the highlights of the Summit, was the launch of a refreshed website, yourcommonwealth.org. The website will give each of the networks improved tools to amplify their work and to share their thoughts.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, delivered a passionate speech where she charged them to use it as part of a toolkit to build meaningful projects and to collaborate for greater impact. The Secretary General said:
"Power comes from your collective interactions and the brilliance that is in your heads and hearts."
‘My life has changed’
Many of the youth leaders spoke about how the Summit has transformed them. They left London with new friendships, a solid framework for their work programmes and a wealth of knowledge.
The sharing will no doubt continue after the Summit as the youth leaders pledged to pass on the learning to other young people within their networks.
- Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat