International Youth Day this year brings to a close the International Year of Youth, dedicated to Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. Though out the year, young people in national youth councils, schools, youth clubs, faith and non-government organisations responded to the call to use their talent, energy and creativity to raise and address issues of development and democracy. The Commonwealth joins the rest of the world in recognising and saluting the commitment young people have shown through their work, promoting peace, human rights, tolerance and mutual understanding –values that are dear to the Commonwealth.
We, in the Commonwealth are making bold steps to tap the vast potential in our youth; we have sought to listen to the young people especially this year and are actively implementing the those priorities our youth have emphasised- ‘focus on youth employment’, ‘focus on strengthening the voice of youth in the Commonwealth’, ‘review the structures that support our work’– these were some of the priorities our youth have raised. The Commonwealth has done much since 1974 through the establishment of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, but we can and will do much more working together with our young people, for indeed we are a young Commonwealth with more than half of us, under 25 years of age.
So as we celebrate International Youth Day 2011- under the theme Change our World- we call on governments, private sector, civil society organisations and stakeholders to continue their emphasis on youth development and empowerment; continue building bridges that close the intergenerational gap, continue mainstreaming youth in all sectors of the society; continue to focus on solutions to youth unemployment; continue investing in youth, let the gains of the international year of youth continue and improve, for there will be no meaningful development without youth at the centre those processes.
To the youth this year- my message is simple- if you wish the world to change – let the change begin with you. CHANGE BEGINS WITH YOU. This is an individual and personal call to live and work – with purpose, knowing that perhaps the greatest want in the world today, is for young people who are willing to get involved, to commit, to give back and to support actions that will make our world better. The Commonwealth stands ready to work with and support you as part of the legacy of the International Year of youth. Continue to let your voices be heard
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