Fiji government and youth connect around Rio+20 outcomes
Suva, Fiji, 20 July 2012 – Government officials from Fiji and youth representatives met on 18 July in Suva to connect on the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference. It is the first time that such an official inter-generational dialogue takes place in Fiji directly following a high-level international meeting on sustainable development.
During the meeting, Mr Iosefa Maiava, Head of the Pacific Office of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), emphasised the need to ensure engagement of young people in regional plans for the green economy and in the development of the Sustainable Development Goals – the successor to the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Youth advocates present pointed to the need for young people to have access to information and education on climate change and sustainable development issues, required to enable their meaningful engagement in consultations and activities promoting sustainable development.
Government representatives pointed out that the issue of climate change already has been incorporated into the Fiji school curriculum and agreed to the call for increased engagement to create awareness and share information especially with youth already out of school. Acting Permanent Secretary for Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Mr Krishna Prasad, reiterated the Government of Fiji’s commitment to involve and respond to the contributions from the youth of Fiji: “The focal point within Government is the Department for Youth, which was represented on the Rio+20 Committee. The planning and implementation mechanisms for greater youth involvement are in place and just need to be utilised and strengthened.”
Official Government Youth Delegate, Kelvin Anthony, encouraged youth everywhere to move beyond what some have described as limitations of the Rio +20 Outcome Document and to take individual responsibility to take action: “The fact that we are here today in the same room as the Government, civil society and youth representatives is a ‘win’ for Fiji. We now need to move forward from here and start taking action collectively and as individuals.”
The dialogue meeting was hosted jointly by UNICEF Pacific and the Fiji Ministry of Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, and is a first step towards strengthening youth inclusive planning on national sustainable development priorities. Such priorities include the need to strengthen youth networks and participatory structures, raise awareness on climate change and sustainable development issues, and facilitate national consultations to guide implementation.