The Commonwealth Youth Forum opened last Saturday in Malta, attended by over 200 young people from across the Commonwealth.
The Youth Forum, which ends today, is the first of four events which precede the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting also to be held in Malta. The other three events include a People’s Forum, a Business Forum and the first-ever Women’s Forum.
The Youth Forum was opened by the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, with guest speakers such as the Founder of the African Youth Initiative Network and co-Chair of the Royal Commonwealth Society’s youth network, and the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network.
With 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s population of 2.3 billion under the age of 30, youth affairs were a major focus of this meeting as a force for change. Key themes included security (in light of the recent terrorist attacks), climate change, and gender equality.
The Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network as well as the Queen’s Young Leaders, a program run by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and Comic Relief, also had a significant presence at the forum.
On Sunday, Nov. 22, the second day of side events, civil society groups met to discuss justice and the new 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The main emphasis was on access to justice and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The event highlighted the similarities with the core values of the modern Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, CIVICUS, Integra Foundation, and The Royal Commonwealth Society have been discussing how Goal 16 of the newly agreed SDG’s can be achieved by civil society and governments working collaboratively. Goal 16 of the Global Goals commits all governments to effectively combine development and justice.
The 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will officially begin on Friday, Nov. 27. The theme for this year’s meeting is “The Commonwealth: Adding Global Value.”