Nominations are now open for the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work, which recognise outstanding young people who have made a significant impact in improving the lives and livelihoods of others.
Young people aged 15 to 29 from Commonwealth member countries are eligible to apply for the awards, which focus this year on celebrating young people’s contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Past awardees have included young social entrepreneurs, human rights defenders, and climate change activists.
A total of 16 finalists will be shortlisted from four Commonwealth regional categories: Africa and Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, and Pacific. A winner will be selected from each region, and one exceptional entrant will be recognised as the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year at a formal awards presentation in London in early 2017.
Speaking on International Youth Day on 12 August 2016, Deodat Maharaj, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General, said: “Young people have a critical role to play in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. In the Commonwealth and across the world, we have seen incredible examples of young people who are leading change and driving development. Their participation is essential to ensuring a prosperous future for all.”
He added: “It is important that we celebrate the already considerable impact that young people have had in all fields of work and as trailblazers in their communities. These awards demonstrate to leaders and other policy-makers the importance of young people’s role in delivering positive change.”
Last year’s Commonwealth Young Person of the Year was Christian Achaleke Leke, a young peace activist who has trained over 8,000 young people in his native Cameroon. Reflecting on the award, he stated: “It was a dream come true. The award opened a new dawn in my career, the Cameroonian population and young people across the world. It has given me a platform to develop my skills, advocate for young people, showcase my work and share experience, and most especially expanded my reach out to young people within the Commonwealth and beyond. This is an opportunity that young people cannot afford to miss.”
Nominees must have been engaged in development work for more than 12 months either in a professional or voluntary capacity. Entries must be received through an online entry form before 31 October 2016. Entrants can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone who is not a relative and can testify to their work.
The finalists will receive cash grants of GBP£1,000 to continue their development work, and will each be awarded a trophy and certificate. Each regional winner will receive a cash grant of GBP £3,000, while the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year will receive GBP £5,000 to support an ongoing project or initiative.
Awards and shortlisting will be decided on the basis of the impact of the individual’s work, the level of innovation and problem-solving, and the quality of achievements, the sustainability of the work, and supporting evidence provided.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to link their development work and its impact to the 17 SDGs, which were agreed to by the international community just under a year ago. For more information about the Commonwealth Youth Awards, and to apply or nominate someone, please visit: commonwealth-youthexcellence.awardsplatform.com
Featured image: Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2015 Christian Achaleke Leke with Deputy Secretary-General Ojiambo