Converging Pacific youth’s power for good governance and anti-corruption

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2521

Young people in the Pacific have proposed an action plan on how they can bring about change in society building on the Youth Vision for a Corruption-Resilient 2050 Blue Pacific.

They discussed strategies for gathering momentum for the Pacific youth anti-corruption movement through the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), the only legally binding global anti-corruption instrument, adopted by all Pacific countries.

At the regional seminar held on 06 April, at the Holiday Inn in Suva, the University of South Pacific Students’ Association (USPSA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) co-hosted the event with support from the Government of the United Kingdom (UK), as 80 young change-makers from eight Pacific countries namely, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu discussed the next step(s) to contribute to good governance and sustainable development in the Pacific, turning the Youth Vision into action.

Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere, President of Fiji while officiating the event, congratulated the University of the South Pacific and its Students’ Association for continuing to advance the Good Governance agenda in the Pacific with youths from across the region. He stated that, “among the other important regional commitments is the Pacific Unity Against Corruption called the ‘Teieniwa Vision’ adopted by Fiji together with 17 other Pacific leaders from the Pacific Islands Forum. By committing to the implementation of the Vision, Fiji has reinforced its anti-corruption commitments and values of anti-corruption.”

Professor Pal Ahluwalia, USP Vice Chancellor & President, while welcoming everyone at the event, encouraged them to be fully aware of the seriousness of corruption related issues and that the good governance agenda needs to be championed. “I am proud to inform you all that our Student Association’s Pacific anti-corruption initiative has informed and empowered a large number of educated and potentially influential young people regarding the impact of corruption on sustainable development, and how young people and other civil society groups can identify and combat it while also promoting the right to information as a powerful anti-corruption tool.”

Recognising corruption as the largest hinderance to sustainable development, good governance and peace and security, the Youth Vision for a Corruption-Resilient 2050 Blue Pacific was developed and endorsed by Pacific youths during the Pacific Youth Summit 2022 led by USPSA and UNDP.The Youth 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. The Youth Vision inspired global practitioners during the 20th International Anti-Corruption Conference held in Washington, D.C. in December 2022.

Tepola Lolohea, youth leader and Member of Youth Parliament of the Kingdom of Tonga, who took part in the Conference in 2022 stated, “The Pacific Youth Vision is our commitment to strengthen democratic and effective governance anchored in integrity and accountability in our Pacific Island countries. I confidently present our ‘Vision’ to global youth and leaders and ask to work together on this very key issue for our sustainable future”.

UNDP’s anti-corruption work in the Pacific, with support from governments, is framed around the international, regional and national anti-corruption commitments including notably UNCAC and the Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which encourages countries to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

Dr Brian Jones, the British High Commissioner to Fiji said, “Corruption and poor governance rob young people of the resources to achieve their potential and to succeed. It is therefore vital that young people engage in anti-corruption efforts, to secure their bright future. I’m delighted that with our friends at USP and the United Nations we can continue to champion and support young people in the Pacific igniting the flame of curiosity and acting as a positive force in society, against corruption, and for good governance.”

Dawn Del Rio, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative a.i. said, “By involving young people in the fight against corruption, we can build a more just and equitable society that benefits all citizens, especially the most vulnerable, which is at the heart of UNDP’s mandate.”

The discussions will inform the work of the youth for good governance and the structured and institutionalised policy dialogue in the leadup to the Pacific Conference on Governance in May 2023 which will spotlight critical issues that need to be prioritised in anti-corruption, such as climate action and gender equality.

Also in attendance at the event was the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Henry Puna and various heads of Pacific Island Countries diplomatic missions in Suva.The event is supported under the UNDP project, Strengthening Anti-Corruption, Transparency and Accountability in Pacific Islands Countries (Pacific Anti-Corruption Project) funded by the UK Government.

Contact information: USPSA: Shania Mani, Project Assistant; email: uspsa.projects@usp.ac.fj
UNDP: Tomoko Kashiwazaki, Communications and Advocacy; email: tomoko.kashiwazaki@undp.org

SOURCE: UNDP/PACNEWS