Commonwealth Youth Forum Calls for Policies to Implement and Achieve SDGs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Youth Forum focused on four themes: prosperity; security; sustainability; and fairness.

The Forum resulted in a Declaration and an Action Plan with recommendations on achieving a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fairer future.

Young people called for prioritizing national and international policies that implement, monitor and achieve the 17 SDGs.

18 April 2018: The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Youth Forum agreed on a Declaration that reaffirms the potential of youth across the Commonwealth in “devising solutions for a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fairer future.” The Declaration recognizes the role of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in achieving these goals, and calls for prioritizing national and international policies that implement, monitor and achieve the 17 SDGs.

The Forum took places on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, UK, from 15-18 April 2018. The Forum focused on the theme, ‘Powering Our Common Future.’ The Youth Forum featured plenary discussions and breakout sessions around the Head of Government Meeting Forum’s four themes: prosperity; security; sustainability; and fairness. A Business Forum, People’s Forum and Women’s Forum also convened on the margins of the meeting.

On health, the youth signatories call on Commonwealth countries to, inter alia: promote universal health coverage (UHC) and education on sexual health and reproductive rights; and accelerate progress towards ending epidemics of malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases. These actions are in line with SDG 3 (good health and well-being), particularly SDG target 3.8 on UHC.

On gender equality, young people call on member states to empower girls and women, and to acknowledge the negative impacts of discrimination and violence against girls and women, in line with SDG 5 (gender equality).

On youth unemployment and underemployment, young people call on national governments to support collection of quality disaggregated unemployment data, prioritize the advancement of education and skills building, promote sustainable livelihoods, economic diversification and development, and establish youth-friendly entrepreneurship ecosystems, among other actions. The Declaration also addresses resourcing and financing for youth development to ensure that no one is left behind, including for national governments to consider establishing a Commonwealth Youth Development Bank to facilitate youth access to finance.

On climate change, the Declaration calls for “unified and comprehensive action” to stay within planetary boundaries, reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards. Young people identify key actions areas, including mechanisms for developing clean and efficient energy solutions, protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, promoting the conservation and restoration of biodiversity, terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and management and efficient natural resource use. Youth further call on national governments to: promote and finance youth engagement in climate negotiations; to invest in training young climate scientists, including to disaggregate climate research across the Commonwealth and especially small island developing States (SIDS); and to further develop the Global Youth Development Index to inform a Youth Vulnerability Index on Climate Change and Disasters. The Declaration calls for a number of additional actions related to vulnerability and disaster risk reduction (DRR).

On natural resources, young people call on all Commonwealth countries to commit to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2050 as a pathway. They further urge member states to, inter alia: formulate and implement national policies that enable sustainable ocean governance and the blue economy to address youth unemployment and job creation; and address complex ocean challenges. Young people call on national governments to facilitate a transition into green and blue economies and to facilitate sustainable agricultural programmes that promote technology transfer and organic farming.

Recommendations include advocacy for governments to adopt a Commonwealth-wide plastic tax.

On good governance, the Declaration reaffirms the importance of democracy, good governance, human rights, the rule of law and transparency, in line with SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). The Declaration further calls for actions to promote inclusion and equity, in line with SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), and for recognizing sports for development and peace as a proven strategy to contribute to the SDGs and to promote peacebuilding programmes, such as sports for peace and development. The Declaration further addresses: the role of young people’s inclusive participation and contribution to building peace and security, including implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security; and mainstreaming youth priorities in national development planning.

The Declaration includes an Action Plan with practical recommendations related to a prosperous future, a secure future, a sustainable future and a fairer future. On a sustainable future, recommendations include advocacy for governments to adopt a Commonwealth-wide plastic tax and adoption of a campaign to expand education about the causes, consequences and individually actionable solutions of climate change in national school curricula, among others.

The Youth Forum recognized 20 Commonwealth Youth Awards finalists, four Regional Young Persons of the Year and the 2019 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year. [Youth Forum Website] SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting]

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