#WhatNext: Social media campaign for young people to influence CHOGM 2015

16 May 2015

Young people from all over the Commonwealth are being asked to help set the agenda for CHOGM 2015 by participating in a social media campaign.

Young people from all over the Commonwealth are being asked to help set the agenda for CHOGM 2015 by participating in a social media campaign entitled #whatnext, launched at the official launch of the Commonwealth Youth Forum yesterday.

The social media campaign which will continue until November was unveiled at Smart City, in Malta, where a number of young organisation representatives were addressed by Education Minister Evarist Bartolo and Parliamentary Secretary for Youth Chris Agius.

The aim of the campaign is for young people to have their say on what issues should be tackled by the Commonwealth during the biennial summit. Participants will automatically also be enlisting themselves for the chance to secure free attendance to the Youth Forum and other CHOGM events.

The theme of the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Forum will be, 'Adding Global Value...#whatnext'. Following closely the main CHOGM theme, this Youth Forum aims to challenge the role of the Commonwealth in adding global value and more importantly it will discuss the role that young people will have in achieving this vision.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who offered a video message for the launch, said that the Commonwealth Youth Forum holds special significance this year. “The presence of youth leaders at CHOGM affirms the Commonwealth’s broader theme for 2015, ‘A Young Commonwealth’, which recognises the capacity, contribution and potential of young people in all fields as pivotal to securing our collective future. As a contemporary, dynamic community of nations and peoples, we understand that our continued success rests on the ideas, energy, perspectives and participation of young people.”

The Commonwealth Youth Forum, co-organised by the Maltese Government, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Youth Council, is one of the four fora held just before CHOGM to help set the agenda for the actual meeting between heads of government.

Education and Employment Minister Evarist Bartolo said that youths should not be the viewers of change, but the catalysts. “Today more than ever youths can reshape the world around them and be catalysts for the change that is needed in their own societies. Through increasingly wider educational uptake across the world, as well as technologies that gives a platform to their voice, never have youths become more empowered to shape policies as well as create the change they’d like to see in their communities."

The Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport Chris Agius said that this forum will act as a platform where national youth leaders from across the Commonwealth listen to what young people have to say.  It is of utmost importance that young people are given space to discuss and share their views on issues that interest them most.  Politicians need to be the driving force who present more opportunities to young people since their revolutionary ideas are instrumental in changing the world.

“Young people under the age of 30 make up 60 per cent of the Commonwealth’s population so these are arguably the most important voices that need to be heard. We want to harness the power of social media to start engaging young people from now until November, so that their messages can come across to the governments which will be participating. This is a chance for young people to come together and make their mark,” said Christopher Formosa, Co-Chair of the Youth Forum International Taskforce.

Mohamed Husni, Vice Chairperson (Inclusion & Engagement) of the Commonwealth Youth Council said: “We are glad to see a successful official launch of the 2015 CYF and CYC general assembly in Malta today, we want to thank the government of Malta for all the support it has been given to the young people. This year is a great year for young people when young people will renew our declaration, elect our new leaders, and set forward a new commitment for youth development in the Commonwealth. We look forward to receiving all the youth delegates in November in Malta. As we launch the Commonwealth Youth Forum we also announce the Commonwealth Youth Council Election for the Executive to take place during the forum."

The main themes already outlined for the Commonwealth Youth Forum include education, youth employment, entrepreneurship, sustainable development, climate change, ICT, health, human rights, youth policy and youth work. For the first time, the outcome document from the forum will feature concrete policy proposals which can be readily adopted by the National Youth Councils, Commonwealth countries themselves, or by the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Youth Forum will take place at the San Antonio Hotel in St Paul’s Bay between the 21st and 25th of November.

For more information about the Commonwealth Youth Forum, including information on how to register, please visit www.chogm2015.mt or send an email to [email protected].