Young leaders from across the Commonwealth are meeting in London to consolidate and advance their goals and strategies for youth development.
The empowerment summit kicked off this week with more than 60 heads and representatives from the Commonwealth's 13 Youth Networks, which address a range of issues, including climate change, health, education, disability and inclusion, sports, and peace and security.
The summit is part of the Commonwealth's flagship Year of Youth - a special designation from a mandate by Commonwealth Heads of Government who met in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2022. There, Heads declared a focus on empowering young people, stakeholders and governments to accelerate progress on youth-focused issues in 2023.
During the two-week event, participants will focus on strategies to pool their ideas and collaborate effectively to achieve youth development goals such as more education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, and equal participation in policy and decision-making at national and global levels.
The young leaders will also receive training and access to tools and resources available at the Secretariat.
Leading the charge
"These young people are leading the charge on action and progress on some of our most important development goals. We want to ensure they are fully aware of the toolkits, opportunities and guides available at the Secretariat and that they have the full range of skills they need, for example, the ability to strategically negotiate and effectively contribute to a high-level forum and to build, strong development and advocacy initiatives," said Commonwealth Youth Advisor, Sushil Ram.
He added: "Most importantly, we want to give them the space to network and collaborate in a way that would strengthen their projects and support their goals."
Kim Allen, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, described the summit as critical to the success of the youth networks. He said: "We are here in London to represent the concerns, needs, voices and perspectives of the 1.5 billion young people who live in the Commonwealth – a responsibility we all take very seriously. Therefore, we aim to use this golden opportunity to hone our skills and collaborate to devise a robust and feasible strategy for youth development."
The summit opens a week ahead of Commonwealth Day on Monday, 13 March 2023, which marks the beginning of a week-long series of events and activities happening around the globe – including faith and civic gatherings, debates, school assemblies, flag-raising ceremonies and cultural events, in which the young leaders will participate.
Commonwealth Head of Social Policy, Layne Robinson, said: “Today we are still feeling the pain of a global pandemic that threw our world into economic turmoil, disproportionately affecting the lives and prospects of our youth. As a Commonwealth, we recognise the importance of addressing these enduring and emerging challenges facing our young people. That is why the Commonwealth Youth Programme was created and why we can now celebrate 50 years of working hand in hand with our development partners and our governments - who demonstrated their commitment to young people with their Year of Youth declaration at their 2022 meeting.”
He added: “As we continue to work tirelessly on our youth empowerment programmes, our aim in this summit is to give our young people the space, the tools and the capacity they need to work with us as equal partners in achieving our development goals.”
- Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat