By ILIESA TORA
(Sponsored by the COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION)
Dubai – June 17, 2022: 9.20pm (Nuku’alofa Times): The 12th Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) which begins in Kigali, Rwanda on Sunday, June 19 will kick-off a busy schedule for the main Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM).
The Commonwealth Secretariat has confirmed than 350 youths are scheduled to meet and discuss important issues relating to them at the three-day forum.
That will include those from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and other pacific Island Countries.
The meeting is a unique opportunity for young leaders to bring policy recommendations to their governments – asserting their role in shaping the future of the Commonwealth.
In a statement today the Secretariat said more than 60% of Commonwealth citizens are under the age of 30 – a demographic distinctly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated economic and social fallout. Many young people lost their jobs or were unable to access the labour market while millions more experienced disrupted education.
Commonwealth Secretary-General RT Hon Patricia Scotland QC said “there is no denying that the challenge before us is great. The disruptions and impact of Covid-19 pandemic casts a shadow that could stretch across the coming decades, threatening to rob us of the social and economic progress we have made and exacerbating existing weaknesses. But, in the Commonwealth we have a powerful advantage – a young majority who are brimming with talent, intent on innovation and eager to be part of the solution”.
She said youths have sent a clear message through the theme of their forum Taking Charge of our Future, and in Kigali they will sit together and consider the challenges.
“Looking at the evidence in our Youth Development Index, which measures how countries are performing on aspects such as youth employment and youth participation in politics, they will agree the solutions, the actions and the changes they want our Heads of Governments to consider when they meet.
“At this critical time in our history the Commonwealth recognises the critical importance of giving these powerful youth leaders a voice and a space, and we are excited to see what they will bring to the table.”
Youth leaders from all 54 member countries are expected to be at the meeting. They will network, exchange ideas, build skills, and generate solutions to the most pressing youth-related challenges. These include unemployment, gender inequality, crime and access to quality education and training.
They will also have an opportunity to meet heads of governments during an intergenerational dialogue.
This year’s forum will also address thematic areas such as governance and the rule of law, technology, skills, innovation, sustainability, health, Covid-19, and trade.
The meeting is being supported by the Government of Rwanda and co-ordinated by an International Youth Task Force, made up of 21 young people from around the Commonwealth and co-chaired by Darrion Narine of Trinidad and Tobago and Alodie Iradukunda of Rwanda. It is supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Government of Rwanda.
Darrion said the CYF taskforce has worked hard over the last few months to deliver a inspiring and productive forum that will get young people engaging in critical thought around the major issues impacting youths across the Commonwealth.
“We hope the next three days will provide an invaluable opportunity for the 350 youth representatives attending to have an input on building a future that benefits us all – paving the way to a stronger and more successful Commonwealth.”
Hon. Rosemary Mbabazi, Minister of Youth and Culture said the 12th Commonwealth Youth Forum is yet another opportunity for the Rwandan Government to honour its commitment to empowering and supporting young people.
“Giving youths a voice to shape the policy actions they want to see will lead to a brighter and more prosperous future for all. The government of Rwanda is committed to support the Youth led declaration towards a prosperous and inclusive commonwealth.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, Honourable Hu’akavameiliku, will lead Tonga’s delegations to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022.
The Tonga delegation includes the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Hon. Fekita ‘Utoikamanu, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu, Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet Mr. Edgar Cocker, Chief Executive Officer for Health Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola and the Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs (and Commonwealth desk officer) Mr. Leonaitasi Kuluni.
They will be joined by Tonga’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Hon Fanetupouvava’u Tu’ivakano.
Leaders’ wives have also been invited to the CHOGM, with sessions also planned for them.
That will also see the Hon Prime Minister’s wife, Fiona, making the trip across to Rwanda.
The week-long program includes the Commonwealth Youth Forum from June 19-21; the Commonwealth Women’s Forum, which takes place on June 20-21; the Commonwealth People’s Forum from June 21-22; the Commonwealth Business Forum, to be held from June 21 – 23, and the Ministerial and High Level Meetings, scheduled for June 22-23.
The Ministerial and High Level meeting will include the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting.
The official opening of Commonwealth Heads Of Governments Meeting takes place on Friday, June 24 and is followed by the main high-level meetings of the Heads of Government.
CHOGM was due to take place in June 2020 but was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ILIESA TORA is the Commonwealth Foundation’s Media Fellow for #CHOGM2022. He is providing coverage from the meeting for the Foundation and the media.