The Commonwealth sees young people aged 15-29 as assets to a country’s development who should be empowered to realise their potential, because they have a proven capability to lead change, and are a vital and valuable investment for now and the future.
The Commonwealth’s 53 member countries have a combined population of more than 2 billion, of which more than 60% are under 30 years of age.
On the backdrop of the aforementioned was birthed the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP).
The CYP is aimed at working towards a society where young men and women are empowered to develop their potential, creativity and skills as productive and dynamic members of their societies and participate fully at every level of decision-making and development, both individually and collectively, promoting Commonwealth values of international co-operation.
CYP advocates the effective participation of young women and men in the development process and for social transformation and values their full engagement at all levels of decision-making.
However, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s youth development work is delivered through the Commonwealth Youth Programme, which has been supporting member countries for over 40 years.
In order to be transformational in their work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals related to youth development by 2030, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, underscored the need for transformational leadership skills in youth development across Africa and the Commonwealth.
She explained that, there are significant challenges in how youth development is resourced, supported and financed at all levels. Quoting Kofi Annan, the first UN Secretary-General from Ghana, who said “Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.”
Patricia Scotland, said this in her closing remarks at the Commonwealth Senior Officials Meeting for the Africa Region, with all efforts to harness the potential of millions of young people, which was held in Ghana at the Tang Palace Hotel in Accra, on 31 October, 2019.
Convened by the Commonwealth in partnership with the government of Ghana, the meeting was aimed to provide an opportunity to focus on the emerging regional and global youth development landscape and help identify priorities for action and track progress of actions agreed in 2017.
The meeting brought together senior officials responsible for youth, national youth leaders, youth workers and key regional stakeholders from across the Africa region.
The Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, emphasized that, there was still a lot of work to be done to fulfil the mandates of Heads of Government before they meet in Rwanda next year.
Meanwhile, She said, at CHOGM 2020, leaders will decide tangible policy actions on youth leadership, youth employment and entrepreneurship and human capital development, with focus on the health and education of young people. Indicating that, three out of every five citizens of the Commonwealth are under 30.
The Secretary-General, further disclosed that, there are still significant challenges in how youth development is resourced, supported and financed at all levels.
“We dare not become disheartened. The job we have to do is far too important to rely on our feelings. We must have faith in the young people we serve.
Whenever the road ahead seems difficult and the challenges too many to count, go to a young person, share and discuss ideas and allow them space to contribute,” She stated.
Intimating that, “Today we need transformational youth leaders – young people who are responsible and committed. Transformation means not merely treating the symptoms but being bold enough to challenge the social, political, environmental and economic root causes that are generating the youth development challenges in our day.”
She however said, “I believe in this senior officials meeting you have examined home grown solutions to these issues that Heads can have a rich set of policy options to decide upon.
Going back home there will be a lot of work to be done at the national and provin