Advancement of governance agenda in the Pacific finds a new and powerful youth voice.
Over 1,000 Pacific youth leaders, students and young professionals convened at the Pacific Youth Summit 2022 to highlight the connections between anti-corruption and sustainable development and boost the ambitions of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent to address regional disaster risk reduction efforts and the global climate emergency.
The Pacific Youth Summit 2022: Stepping up for Corruption-Resilient 2050 Blue Pacific, which was opened by Simon Kofe, Minister for Communications, Foreign Affairs and Justice of Tuvalu, builds on the integrity and anti-corruption partnership established in 2021 between the University of the South Pacific Students’ Association (USPSA) and UNDP Pacific Office.
The event expands and strengthens youth engagement on integrity and anti-corruption which resulted in the first Pacific Youth Summit on 07 December 2021. It represents further important consolidation of the growing Pacific youth movement, and a Youth Summit is now expected to become an annual event.
The day-long event kicked off with an Anti-Corruption March of Nations by the Pacific Youths from all three sub-regions of the Pacific and welcoming remarks from USP Students Association President, Mani Mate. Participants were also addressed by the following dignitaries: The British High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji, Dr Brian Jones; the New Zealand High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji, Charlotte Darlow; USP Vice-Chancellor & President Professor Pal Ahluwalia and UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative, Levan Bouadze.
While welcoming everyone to the Summit, the President of the USP Students Association, Mani Mate reminded everyone of the transformational power of good governance for achieving the 2030 Agenda. “I sincerely hope that our youths today will become important partners and engage with everyone here through inter-generational dialogue and integrate their voices with each other for building a resilient blue Pacific.”
A series of sessions were framed around foundational regional documents such as the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy, the Teieniwa Vision (Pacific Unity against Corruption) and the Boe Declaration on Regional Security. The centerpiece of the discussions was the transformational power of good governance and anti-corruption in achieving progress on the climate change and disaster risk reduction agenda in the Pacific. Following these discussions, talanoa sessions and workshops, the Summit culminated in a high-level discussion addressing the role of young people in advancing the values of the 2050 Strategy and the Teieniwa Vision. These resulted in the formation and adoption of the ‘Youth Vision for a Corruption-Resilient Blue Pacific’. This Vision reflects the youth commitment to shape their future and have their voice on good governance and anti-corruption heard in a structured and sustainable manner in close partnership with Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and other Council of Regional Organisation agencies in the Pacific (CROP) for ensuring coherent, sustainable and long-term results.
Participants in the afternoon panel included the Samoan High Commissioner to Fiji, Aliioaiga Elisaia, the Pacific Resilience Partnership Youth Working Group Chair, Sevuloni Rokomatu; and Tepola Lolohea, the Youth Parliament Member of the Kingdom of Tonga. The session was moderated by the Deputy Secretary General, Aneet Kumar of the USP Students Association.
The event focused on climate change and disaster risk reduction because the Pacific Region, especially low-lying atoll nations, face an existential threat from the consequences of global climate change. Concrete action, including to build integrity and fight corruption are required to increase resilience and secure a sustainable future for the region. It recognized that progress against corruption, i.e. against the commitments of the Teieniwa Vision at national and regional level is a prerequisite for achieving progress in the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy. The High-level panel recognised that the advancement of the good governance agenda can help unleash resources for realising the full potential of the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy. This will also enable an accelerated progress in achieving the long-term vision and aspirations of the 2050 Strategy in all seven key thematic areas including climate change and disaster – which the Summit also focused upon.
Simon Kofe, Minister for Communications, Foreign Affairs and Justice of Tuvalu said, “When I turn towards the topic of youths and the role, they play in helping us shape the future of this region, I must commend the organizers of this Summit and its partners that are creating the youth movement, providing a platform and committing to finding innovative solutions together for the advancement of good governance agenda in the Pacific. This goes without saying that such unprecedented movement calls for the creation of structured dialogues through which youths of our region can contribute towards the advancement of the good governance agenda and cooperate with one another.”
Dr Brian Jones, British High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji said, “The growing youth integrity movement in the Pacific powerfully demonstrates the continued commitment of young people to identify the vital issues requiring action. Today, they are reconfirming that they are the strongest force for creating corruption-free and environmentally sustainable future for themselves and others. I congratulate USPSA and UNDP for this great success. The UK government remains committed to working with UNDP and all partners to support this unprecedented youth anti-corruption and right to information movement in the Pacific.”
Charlotte Darlow New Zealand High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji said, “As well as directly engaging a significant number of young people from across the region, this event has continued the tradition of the Youth Summit building important new partnerships. The Government of New Zealand, working with UNDP, is delighted to be part of this important process that this year goes a step further to link environmental sustainability and climate action with integrity and anti-corruption. All these issues are high on New Zealand’s priority issues to support in the Pacific.”
Levan Bouadze, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative said, “We are all painfully aware that rising sea levels caused by climate change pose a pernicious threat in the Pacific. Corruption does not yet seem to have the prominence it should in the context of climate change responses and today’s Summit represents an important step forward on that front which I am sure will have resonate beyond the Pacific region. This message clearly resonates with the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Action Now and is very timely as the world is preparing for COP27 in November in Egypt.”
The Pacific Youth Summit 2022: Stepping up for Corruption-Resilient 2050 Blue Pacific is organized by the University of the South Pacific Students’ Association (USPSA) in partnership with UNDP Pacific Office under the United Nations Regional Anti-Corruption Project (UN-PRAC) funded by the New Zealand Government, and Strengthening Anticorruption, Transparency and Accountability in Pacific Island Countries (Pacific Anti-Corruption Project) funded by the Government of the United Kingdom.
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