Commonwealth meet concludes with commitment to mobilise actions for youth

James Kon

Any journey, however long, begins with a single step – and then another, and another, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said.

In her closing remarks at the Commonwealth Youth Senior Officials Meeting (Asia Region) yesterday, she highlighted that the magnitude of the challenge is matched by the altitude of ambition.

She said, “As we travel along the way together, we urge each other forward – scanning the horizon for pathways of hope that will enable us to gain ground more swiftly towards our common objectives of a better, safer and more equitable future for all young people.

“We move towards more sufficient and sustainable funding; to provide and protect capacity; to enrich the resources available and to enhance empowerment. With faith in the young people, we serve and the companionship of counterparts, the road becomes less rugged and the obstacles less challenging.”

Scotland added, “It is impressive to see participants devoting so much time to contributing at sessions throughout. This speaks high of the level of commitment on which we are able to draw and through which we mobilise Commonwealth action for youth – collectively and at regional and national levels. There is much to be done at whatever level and wherever we engage to fulfil by 2021 the mandates and directions delivered to us by heads of government and ministers.”

The Commonwealth is made up of 53 nations, countless communities, myriad clubs for young people and projects for youth participation, she said.

“We are 2.4 billion people – and as we have heard so many times, 60 per cent is below the age of 30. Those are the individuals with whom you work, to whom we are all responsible, and for whose welfare you now return to work. We have all experienced the infectious buzz of their energy and creativity – and indeed we have transmitted much of that dynamic ‘can-do’ attitude to each other during our time together.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland speaks at the ceremony. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“Re-energised we are inspired afresh to be transformational in our work. We know that it is imperative that we press on to achieve by 2030 those Sustainable Development Goals related to youth development.”

Scotland explained, “To do so means going beyond mere treating of the symptoms, and being bold enough to challenge the social, political, environmental and economic root causes that are generating the youth development challenges and the malaise that is so prevalent among those we serve”.

“The Commonwealth Secretariat teams are ready to work alongside our member governments and national agencies, and with our partners and collaborators including SAARC, UNDP and ADB. I wish you every success as you return to your important work in ministries and departments.”

The Commonwealth Secretary-General also expressed her appreciation to all members of every delegation and partner organisation representative for coming up with the agendas and action plan which will be put forward to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2020 in Kigali.

Scotland said, “Your presence here over the past three days shows how very genuinely committed you are to raising our performance ever higher and making our impact ever deeper. It is by working together and sharing perspectives that we shall make lasting and sustainable progress towards tackling the youth development issues and challenges that are of such pressing concern for all our nations and in all our communities.”

Held at the Goldstone Ballroom of The Centrepoint Hotel, Permanent Secretary (Administration, Finance and Estate) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Haji Mahmud, chair of the meeting, was also present along with heads of delegates.