Young leaders to chart course for CHOGM at Asian regional summit

22 April 2024
Press release
Group photo of young leaders at the Commonwealth Asian regional summit

A landmark summit for youth leaders in Asia aims to rejuvenate and improve youth engagement, participation, and collaboration among youth leaders in the region, its organisers say.

The challenges and opportunities identified by the young leaders will inform recommendations to leaders at the Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Samoa in October 2024.

The Asia Regional Youth Leadership Summit & Senior Officials Meeting will bring together youth leaders from Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Maldives, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. The meeting, organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in partnership with the British Council and the Commonwealth Youth Council, will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 21 – 26 April 2024.

The Asia region, is home to one of the largest youth populations within the Commonwealth, contributing significantly to the collective voice of 1.5 million young people across the 56 member states.

The summit will allow the participants to share their experiences, challenges, and ideas as well as build their leadership capacities. The Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, Kim Allen welcomed this initiative to upskill young people and amplify their voices.

He noted:

“The Commonwealth Secretariat and the British Council have long supported the institutional development of our youth-led organisations and networks. Mainstreaming youth voices within institutional, policy, and development planning forms the core of meaningful participation.

“This regional summit will create a platform for youth leaders to exchange strategies for impact at national and community levels and motivate them to make a positive difference in their countries. Importantly, this experience will provide them with useful skills and a strong network that will provide continuing benefits.”

The youth leaders will engage in discussions on the fundamental principles guiding youth development and engagement in the Commonwealth. While at the summit, they will also establish a Commonwealth Asia Regional Youth Platform that will foster regional advocacy, engagement, and cross-cultural learning.

Sushil Ram, Youth Development Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat, delivers a presentation at the Asian regional summit in Malaysia
Sushil Ram, Youth Development Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat, delivers a presentation at the Asian regional summit in Malaysia

During the summit, senior government officials and focal points from youth ministries across the Asia region will also convene to evaluate progress on mandates outlined in the outcome statement from the 10th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting held in and the Marlborough House Commitments. They will also support and engage in the establishment of the Commonwealth Asia Regional Youth Platform. 

Sushil Ram, Youth Development Adviser for the Commonwealth Secretariat, describes the meeting as necessary and timely. He said:

"Despite progress in promoting youth participation, Asian youth encounter a dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape.  In their context, new opportunities coexist with major challenges worsened by the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these lead to limited access to opportunities for employment, self-empowerment, formal decision-making processes, and influencing policy.

"Their perspectives are therefore important as we help leaders with pertinent information to chart the way forward for the Commonwealth. With the Commonwealth Youth Forum scheduled for October 2024 in Samoa at CHOGM, it is particularly important to get insights from young people and to relay them to heads of government and other stakeholders.”

The youth leaders will collaborate on developing an outcome document that will contain key recommendations addressing the issues and challenges faced by young people in Asia, to be presented at the Commonwealth Youth Forum. The Asian summit underscores the pivotal role of young people in advancing peace, democracy, and development within the Commonwealth.

During this Commonwealth Year of Youth, there has been a strengthened focus on youth-led action for sustainable and inclusive development. For over 50 years, the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) has been charged with ensuring that the needs of young people are at the centre of the development programmes at the Secretariat and kept in sharp focus by member governments.

Media contact

  • Ijeoma Onyeator  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

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