The 10th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM) opened in London yesterday, bringing together Government ministers, senior government officials, education stakeholders and young leaders from across the Commonwealth to agree on policies and initiatives aimed at supporting and empowering young people across 56 member states.
High-level representatives from over 46 countries and six UK overseas territories, including 35 Government Ministers, are attending the meeting at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters, Marlborough House. The meeting, which is held under the theme: ‘Aiming Higher: Delivering More for Young People in the Commonwealth’, is being chaired by the Government of Pakistan.
CYMM has four themes: education, employment, environment and engagement, along with cross-cutting themes, including human rights, transformative technology and disability.
The opening ceremony featured addresses from the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC; the meeting’s Chair, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, HE Jalil Abbas Jilani; and Mr Kim Allen, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council.
During her welcome, the Commonwealth Secretary-General set out a comprehensive vision for youth development, adding:
“Our world of change and challenge – bound by a tangled knot of economic, environmental and security challenges spanning global systems – insists that we continue to intensify the drive for youth empowerment. Because young people are not simply beneficiaries of our efforts: they are active agents of change, partners in development, and leaders – today and tomorrow.
Their energy, creativity, and determination can be the driving forces behind our collective progress. Their dreams, aspirations, and actions have the power to transform our Commonwealth and our world.”
This year marks 50 years of the Commonwealth Youth Programme and is an opportune time to set a new agenda for this generation of young people and those to come.
HE Jalil Abbas Jilani, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, reflected on CYMM’s theme, which was suggested by his government, noting:
“Aiming higher, delivering more for young people expresses the combined aspiration and commitment of the Commonwealth family to invest in and promote young people’s development, particularly through the creation of opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship, recognising that the future success of the Commonwealth rests with the continued commitment and contributions of young people in promoting and sustaining the Commonwealth, and its values and principles as enshrined in Article 13 of the Commonwealth Charter.”
Youth concerns and reflections were raised at the opening ceremony by Mr Kim Allen, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council, who also asked the ministers to prioritise young people in their planning and provide the budget necessary to support their development. Mr Allen and other youth leaders will contribute throughout the ministerial meeting.
Ms Sarah Kemp, Intel’s Vice President of International Government Affairs, delivered the keynote address. She urged the democratisation of technology and informed the over 400 delegates about the transformational power of artificial intelligence (AI). She also shared her views on its challenges, while highlighting the opportunities, with policymakers and stakeholders.
Senior Director of Government Partnerships at Intel, Ms Shweta Khurana, launched a partnership which will allow Commonwealth youth to have access to Intel’s AI for Youth course. The online training course offers young people, aged 13 to 19, the opportunity to understand artificial intelligence tools and methodologies, the technology’s impact on society and how to use AI to solve challenges and create opportunities.
Today, the Zalmi Foundation will unveil its latest initiative, the Peace and the Crease project, which aims to encourage peace and positive transformation by using cricket. The Pakistan-based, non-governmental foundation is committed to nurturing the potential of young people, emphasising the pivotal roles of both sports and education. The week’s activities will end on Friday with visits to youth empowerment projects curated by the UK’s National Youth Agency (NYA).
Decisions and initiatives agreed at the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting will then go before Commonwealth Leaders for deliberation and ratification at the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting to be held in Samoa in October 2024.