Pacific Games Channels Youth Aspirations in the Solomon Islands

Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Economy & Trade, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, Sustainable Development Goals, TerraViva United Nations, Youth


Jovita Ambrose and Timson Irowane are two young athletes training to be part of the Solomon Islands national team at the Pacific Games. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, Nov 17 2023 (IPS) – The Pacific Games, the most prestigious sporting event in the Pacific Islands region, will open in the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific on 19 November. And it is set to shine a spotlight on the energy, hopes and aspirations of youths who comprise the majority of the country’s population.

Timson Irowane (25), who has been competing in triathlons for the past six years, is brimming with confidence and anticipation. “The Pacific Games is a big event because my people are here, and it is very special because this is the first time the Solomon Islands is hosting the Games that I’ve been involved in,” Irowane told IPS during an interview at the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport in the capital, Honiara. 

Every four years, a Pacific Island nation is chosen to host the regional multi-sport Pacific Games. And this year, about 5,000 athletes from 24 Pacific Island states, such as Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Fiji and New Caledonia, will arrive in Honiara to compete in 24 sports, ranging from athletics and swimming to archery and basketball.

The Solomon Islands has a high population growth rate of 2.3 percent and about 70 percent of the country’s population of about 734,000 people are aged under 35 years. Christian Nieng, Executive Director of the Pacific Games National Hosting Authority, told IPS that it will be a chance to showcase their talents and achievements. “It is the biggest international event ever hosted in the country. And as we are hosting, we want to compete for every medal chance,” Nieng said.

Not far from Honiara city centre, the new Games precinct includes a large national stadium, which can accommodate 10,000 people, as well as swimming and tennis centres. Eighty percent of the funding needed to build the facilities and organize the Games has been provided by international donors and bilateral partners, including Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Korea and Indonesia.

“One of the long-term benefits of the Games is that we now have a new sports city as a legacy of the event,” Nieng added. It will be one of the best in the Pacific region, he believes, and, if well maintained, will last for 25 years, providing world-class facilities for Solomon Islanders to pursue their development and ambitions in sport.

At the sports institute, about 1,200 athletes are in training, and their energy and excitement is palpable. Here, Irowane, who is from Western and Malaita, two outer island provinces, is one among many who are striving to be selected for the national team of about 650 athletes who will represent the Solomon Islands later this month. His dedication has already led to international success. He participated in the Pacific Games held in Samoa in 2019 and numerous regional championships before heading to the Commonwealth Games hosted in Birmingham in the United Kingdom last year.

But he said that there were many wider benefits of sport to young people. “Triathlon is a multi-sport which involves discipline. Sport is not just for training, for fitness and skills that you learn in a specific sport, but it trains holistically to be a better person and a responsible person,” Irowane said. “And it helps athletes and individuals to be good citizens.”

Another local star aiming high is 21-year-old Jovita Ambrose, also from Malaita Province. “I started athletics and running during school games when I was 17 years old. When I’m running, I know that I’m good at it. When you are good at sport, it keeps you busy; it helps you stay healthy and not get involved in negative activities, such as drugs,” Ambrose said. In the last two years, she has travelled to competitions overseas, including the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in the United States last year and in Budapest, Hungary, three months ago.

Many local businesses in the formal and informal sectors are hoping for increased visitors and business during the Pacific Games being hosted in the Solomon Islands in late November. Burns Creek Settlement market in Honiara. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Many local businesses in the formal and informal sectors are hoping for increased visitors and business during the Pacific Games being hosted in the Solomon Islands in late November. Burns Creek Settlement market in Honiara. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

The Solomon Islands has a rural majority population that is scattered across more than 900 islands where there is often limited access to roads, basic services and employment. And the younger generation faces significant economic and development challenges. In a country which is not generating enough jobs for those of working age, the government estimates that 16,000-18,000 youths enter the employment market every year, with less than 4,000 likely to gain a secure job. Estimates of youth unemployment range from 35 percent to 60 percent.

“There is a lot of unemployment and, also, under-employment, where young people get a job opportunity which does not match their skill set. It is a real frustration for them when they are educated and still waiting for a job opportunity,” Harry James Olikwailafa, Chairman of the Solomon Islands National Youth Congress, explained to IPS. “The important issues for young people today are economic opportunities, employment opportunities and educational opportunities.”

In the last two decades, Solomon Islanders have also grappled with the aftermath of a five-year civil conflict. ‘The Tensions’, triggered by factors including urban-rural inequality, corruption and competition for land and resources, erupted in 1998 between rival armed groups representing local Guale landowners on Guadalcanal Island and internal settlers from Malaita Province. Hostilities ended in 2003, by which time many people, including children, had experienced violence, atrocities and displacement and had been deprived of education.

Morrison Filia 936) and his wife, Joycelyn (32), grew up in the aftermath of the conflict. And now, through a new entrepreneurial initiative, are aiming to help grow economic opportunities in Honiara. In August, they launched a new tourism business, Happy Isle Tours and Transfers, which offers airport transfers for visitors and tourists to hotels, as well as tours of Honiara, its history and landmarks, and excursions to World War II memorial sites on Guadalcanal Island.

“In Honiara, there are a lot of young people, and employment is a problem. So, the main idea is that we try to create this business so that we can employ more young people. We are trying to give young people opportunities,” Morrison told IPS.

They have also opened their business in time for the Games. “One of the other reasons why we started the business is that we noticed tourists and visitors coming [to the Solomon Islands], but they find it difficult to find transport,” Joycelyn said. “We are excited and looking forward to the Games because we are expecting more tourists. It will bring other different people to the country, and we are expecting increased bookings. I think it will also increase employment in the country and help us in our economy,” she continued.

The Pacific Games will continue for two weeks and finish on the 2 December. And like Morrison and Joycelyn, Timson Irowane has long-term goals. “I wish to be a role model, to introduce the sports and motivate more young people to be involved in any sport they are interested in. I love to encourage them because we have the advantage of the facilities here beyond the Games,” he declared.

IPS UN Bureau Report


Silent Struggles: Unraveling Korea’s Startling Elderly Suicide Surge

Active Citizens, Asia-Pacific, Development & Aid, Headlines, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Population, TerraViva United Nations, Youth, Youth Thought Leaders


In this, the fourth of IPS’ Youth Thought Leaders series, the author looks at suicide rates in older persons and concludes we should break barriers and celebrate the diversity each generation brings.

An image illustrating the ‘No-senior zone’ in a Korean café. Credit: The Nation

An image illustrating the ‘No-senior zone’ in a Korean café. Credit: The Nation

SEOUL, Oct 13 2023 (IPS) – Growing up in a culture that values respect for elders, I was acutely aware of the importance of caring for our aging population. However, my journey to understanding the gravity of this issue truly began with a personal anecdote. I watched my grandmother, a pillar of strength throughout my childhood, gradually withdraw from the vibrant world in which she once thrived. The cheerful twinkle in her eyes began to dim, replaced by an eerie sense of isolation.

This experience opened my eyes to a stark reality: a disturbing surge in elderly suicide rates hidden beneath the facade of cultural reverence for seniors in Korea and Japan. In 2021, these rates reached 61.3 deaths per 100,000 people in Korea, primarily driven by profound social isolation.

Suicide deaths in Korea. Credit: Statista

Suicide deaths in Korea. Credit: Statista

Some may argue that these figures are insignificant, but the persistence of a high suicide rate cannot be dismissed. Moreover, they are poised to become even more critical as we approach a world where, according to WHO, the elderly population over the age of 60 is expected to double by 2050, and those 80 years or older are projected to triple.

So how severe are the elderly suicide rates due to isolation in Korea and Japan? Well, research highlights that this is due to the significant rise in the elderly population. Such an increase has been concurrent with the rising elderly suicide rates. The Global Burden of Disease study emphasizes that the global elderly suicide rate is almost triple the suicide rates across all other age groups. For example, in South Korea alone, there has been a 300% increase in elderly suicide rates.

If the world’s elderly population has increased overall, why is it that the elderly suicide rates within Korea and Japan have been especially severe? This was particularly confusing as I believed that due to cultural and social standards of filial piety and respecting your elders, such suicide rates would be low. However, I found the answer to my own question when I visited Korea in July this year.

When I arrived in the country, one of the first things I did was to visit a cafe to meet with a friend. However, as I was about to enter the cafe, I saw a group of elderly men and women leaving the cafe while comforting each other, saying, “It’s okay; it’s not the first time we’ve been rejected.” As I later found out, this was because the cafe was a ‘no-senior zone.’

Similar to how some places are designated as ‘no-kid zones,’ this cafe, and others, did not allow people over the age of 60 to enter.  According to Lee Min-ah at Chung-Ang University, “The continuous emergence of ‘no-something zones’ in our society means that exclusion among groups is increasing, while efforts to understand each other are disappearing.”

I also discovered that age discrimination is also present in other aspects of the elderly’s life, more specifically, in the workplace. According to a survey by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, in 2018, 59 percent of the Korean elderly found it difficult to be employed due to age restrictions, and a further 44 percent experienced ageism within their workplace. The increase in discrimination against the elderly has heightened their sense of isolation, eventually leading to cases of suicide in extreme circumstances.

Jung Soon Park, the Secretary General of World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGo) with the author Hyunsung (Julie) Lee.

Jung Soon Park, the Secretary General of World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGo) with the author Hyunsung (Julie) Lee.

Interview with Jung Soon Park, the Secretary General of WeGo at the Seoul Global Center

Interview with Jung Soon Park, the Secretary General of WeGo at the Seoul Global Center

I wanted to learn more about the current action being taken to help the elderly feel more included in our society, as I believed this would be key to preventing isolation-related suicide cases. To gain further insight, I decided to interview Jung Soon Park, the Secretary General of the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGo).

WeGo is an international association of local governments, smart tech solution providers, and institutions committed to transforming cities worldwide into smart and sustainable cities through partnerships. I believe that by interviewing the Secretary General of WeGo, I would be able to learn more about the specific solutions that governments and organizations are implementing collaboratively.

Through my interview, I gained an understanding that the South Korean government and social organizations are currently focusing on addressing age discrimination, recognizing it as a key factor in isolationism.

Park mentioned that one specific approach to resolving this issue involves the use of ‘meta spaces’ and technological wristbands. She emphasized that in today’s technology-driven world, enabling the elderly to adapt to such technology could bridge the generation gap between the younger and older generations. She further explained that meta spaces, allowing for anonymous communication, and technological wristbands, which could include features like a metro card and direct access to emergency services, would facilitate the elderly’s integration into modern society. Park concluded that enabling the elderly to adapt efficiently to the current social setting could break down the generational barrier between youth and the elderly, fostering a direct connection between these two disparate groups.

During my research, I coincidentally came across a website called Meet Social Value (MSV). MSV is a publishing company that specializes in writing and publishing insightful articles about contemporary social issues. Their most recent article, titled ‘Senior,’ delves into the social challenges faced by the elderly in Korean society and explores solutions involving inclusive designs and spaces.

MSV serves as a prime example of how contemporary social organizations are taking steps to address the issue of elderly discrimination. This is especially significant because, through youthful and trendy engagement on social media, it becomes easier to raise awareness of this issue among younger generations.

Meet Social Value's most recent article, titled 'Senior,' delves into the social challenges faced by the elderly in Korean society and explores solutions involving inclusive designs and spaces.

Meet Social Value’s most recent article, titled ‘Senior,’ delves into the social challenges faced by the elderly in Korean society and explores solutions involving inclusive designs and spaces.

As I continued my research, I started pondering what I, as an 18-year-old, could do to contribute to resolving this issue. Even though I’m still a student, I wanted to find ways to make a difference, especially after witnessing age discrimination and its consequences firsthand.

I found the answer to my question when I learned about the initiatives undertaken by the government of Murakami City and the Murakami City Social Welfare Council to bridge the gap between the youth and senior citizens. They introduced the Murakami City Happy Volunteer Point System, which aimed to encourage more people to assist seniors through various volunteering activities such as nursing facility support, hospital transportation services, and operating dementia cafes, among others. The system rewarded volunteers with points that could be exchanged for prepaid cards, creating an incentive for more individuals to get involved in helping their senior citizens.

Taking this into consideration, I believe that the younger generation, especially students, may contribute by creating such an incentivization system. For example, students may create senior volunteering clubs within their schools and take turns volunteering and connecting with elderly citizens every weekend. By doing so, clubs may incentivize their members through points which may later be traded for a snack or lunch at the school cafeteria. Through small incentives, this may naturally encourage more students to participate and thus naturally allow for the youth to create a relationship with the elderly, hence contributing to mitigating the issue of elderly isolation.

The webpage of the Murakami City Happy Volunteer Point System containing the system’s details.

The webpage of the Murakami City Happy Volunteer Point System contains the system’s details.

In Korea’s battle against ageism, we find ourselves at a turning point. To navigate this societal shift successfully, we must recognize that age discrimination not only undermines the dignity of our elders but also hampers our collective progress. The solution requires a comprehensive approach. Policy reforms are crucial, emphasizing stringent anti-ageism measures in the public space and the workplace. Equally significant solutions are awareness campaigns to challenge stereotypes and foster inter-generational understanding.

However, true change starts with the youth. By confronting our biases and engaging in volunteering activities, we can break down barriers and celebrate the diverse experiences each age group brings. Through such efforts, we can create a society where age is not a determinant of worth but a source of strength and wisdom. It’s a journey demanding our collective commitment, but one that will lead us towards a more inclusive and harmonious future for all.

Edited by Hanna Yoon

IPS UN Bureau Report


Iran: One Year on, What’s Changed?

Active Citizens, Civil Society, Crime & Justice, Democracy, Economy & Trade, Featured, Gender, Headlines, Human Rights, Middle East & North Africa, TerraViva United Nations, Youth


Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, Sep 19 2023 (IPS) – It’s a year since a photo of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini – bruised and in a coma she would never recover from after being arrested by the morality police for her supposedly improperly worn hijab – went viral, sending people onto the streets.

The protests became the fiercest challenge ever faced by Iran’s theocratic regime. The unprecedented scale of the protests was matched by the unparalleled brutality of the crackdown, which clearly revealed the regime’s fear for its own survival.

Led by women and young people, mobilisations under the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ banner articulated broader demands for social and political change. They spread like wildfire – to streets across Iran, to universities, even to cemeteries where growing numbers of the regime’s victims were being buried. They were echoed and amplified by the Iranian diaspora around the world. The Iranian people made it abundantly clear they wanted the Islamic Republic gone.

A year on, the theocratic regime still stands, but that doesn’t mean nothing has changed. By sheer force, the authorities have regained control – at least for now. But subtle changes in daily life reveal the presence of active undercurrents that could once again spark mass protests. The regime knows this, hence the fear with which it has awaited this date and its redoubled repression as it neared.

A glimpse of change

Last December, as protests raged and the authorities were busy trying to stop them, women could be seen on Iranian streets without their hijabs for the first time in decades. After the protests were quelled, many simply refused to resubmit to the old rules. A tactical shift followed, with mass street mobilisation turning into more elusive civil disobedience.

Women, particularly Gen Z women just like Mahsa, continue to protest on a daily basis, simply by not abiding by hijab rules. Young people express their defiance by dancing or showing affection in public. Cities wake up to acts of civil disobedience emblazoned on their walls. Anti-regime slogans are heard coming from seemingly nowhere. In parts of the country where many people from excluded ethnic minorities live, protest follows Friday prayers. It may take little for the embers of rebellion to reignite.

Preventative repression

Ahead of the anniversary, family members of those killed during the 2022 protests were pressured not to hold memorial services for their loved ones. The lawyer representing Mahsa Amini’s family was charged with ‘propaganda against the state’ due to interviews with foreign media. University professors suspected to be critical of the regime were dismissed, suspended, forced to retire, or didn’t have their contracts renewed. Students were subjected to disciplinary measures in retaliation for their activism.

Artists who expressed support for the protest movement faced reprisals, including arrests and prosecution under ridiculous charges such as ‘releasing an illegal song’. Some were kept in detention on more serious charges and subjected to physical and psychological torture, including solitary confinement and beatings.

Two months ago, the regime put the morality police back on the streets. Initial attempts to arrest women found in violation of hijab regulations, however, were met with resistance, leading to clashes between sympathetic bystanders and police. Women, including celebrities, have been prosecuted for appearing in public without their hijab. Car drivers carrying passengers not wearing hijab have been issued with traffic citations and private businesses have been closed for noncompliance with hijab laws.

The most conservative elements of the regime have doubled down, proposing a new ‘hijab and chastity’ law that seeks to impose harsher penalties, including lashes, heavy fines and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those appearing without the hijab. The bill is now being reviewed by Iran’s Guardian Council, a 12-member, all-male body led by a 97-year-old cleric.

[embedded content]

If not now, then anytime

In the run-up to 16 September, security force street presence consistently increased, with snap checkpoints set up and internet access disrupted. The government clearly feared something big might happen.

As the anniversary passes, the hardline ruling elite remains united and the military and security forces are on its side, while the protest movement has no leadership and has taken a bad hit. Some argue that what made it spread so fast – the role of young people, and young women in particular – also limited its appeal among wider Iranian society, and particularly among low-income people concerned above all with economic strife, rising inflation and increasing poverty.

There are ideological differences among the Iranian diaspora, which formed through successive waves of exiles and includes left and right-wing groups, monarchists and ethnic separatists. While most share the goal of replacing the authoritarian theocracy with a secular democracy, they’re divided over strategy and tactics, and particularly on whether sanctions are the best way to deal with the regime.

Ever since the protests took off last year, thousands of people around the world have shown their support and called on their governments to act. And some have, starting with the USA, which early on imposed sanctions on the morality police and senior police and security officials. New sanctions affecting 29 additional people and entities, including 18 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and security forces, were imposed on the eve of the anniversary of the protests, 15 September, International Day of Democracy. That day, US President Joe Biden made a statement about Mahsa Amini’s inspiration of a ‘historic movement’ for democracy and human dignity.

The continuing outpouring of international solidarity shows that the world still cares and is watching. A new regime isn’t around the corner in Iran, but neither is it game over in the quest for democracy. For those living under a murderous regime, every day of the year is the anniversary of a death, an indignity or a violation of rights. Each day will therefore bring along a new opportunity to resurrect rebellion.

Inés M. Pousadela is CIVICUS Senior Research Specialist, co-director and writer for CIVICUS Lens and co-author of the State of Civil Society Report.


Lawmakers Call on G20 to Prioritise Spending on Youth, Gender, and Human Security

Asia-Pacific, Conferences, Development & Aid, Gender, Headlines, Humanitarian Emergencies, Population, Poverty & SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals, Youth


Asian Parliamentarians believe it’s important to prioritise spending on ageing and youth populations. Credit: APDA

Asian Parliamentarians believe it’s important to prioritise spending on ageing and youth populations. Credit: APDA

NEW DELHI, Sep 5 2023 (IPS) – Legislators from around the world, this week, officially submitted to the Sherpa of the G20 meeting set for September in New Delhi a declaration calling on governments to prioritise spending on ageing, youth, gender, human security, and other burning population issues.

The submission to the G20 Sherpa follows a workshop held on August 22 in New Delhi to discuss the Declaration first presented at the G7 Hiroshima summit in April by the Global Conference of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (GCPPD) under the UNFPA

“We have now submitted the Declaration to Amitabh Kant, Sherpa to the G-20 so that it can be taken up,” Manmohan Sharma, Executive Secretary of the Indian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (IAPPD), told IPS.

Deepender Hooda, Vice Chair of the AFPPD and a member of India’s Parliament, said the workshop in New Delhi was significant not only because India is hosting the G-20 summit but also because India was expected to have overtaken China as the world’s most populous country reaching 1,425,775,850 people in April.

Lawmakers met in New Delhi to discuss the prioritisation of resources to prepare a declaration to the G20. Credit: APDA

Lawmakers met in New Delhi to discuss the prioritisation of resources to prepare a declaration to the G20. Credit: APDA

Keizo Takemi, member of the House of Councillors, Japan, and Chair of the AFPPD, observed that India faced many challenges that are hard to overcome, and these included the large size of its population, limited school attendance, and a high rate of unemployment. “Prioritisation of population issues is the most important,” he emphasised.

Hooda, a leader of the opposition Congress party from the state of Haryana, said he was concerned at the dwindling budgetary outlay in social sectors like health and education over the last few years in India. “Currently, for some reason, inclusive growth in education and health has fallen,” he told delegates.

A presentation to the workshop by Suneeta Mukherjee indicated that India is among the top five nations leading the ‘out-of-school’ category, with 1.4 million children in the 6-11-years-old age category not attending school. Also, out of every 100 students, 29 per cent drop out of school before completing elementary education.

Mukherjee, an Indian career bureaucrat who has served at the UNFPA, said the situation appeared to be worsening at the upper primary level given that the dropout rate at the upper primary level had gone up to 3 per cent in 2021-2022 while it was only 1.9 per cent in 2020-2021. The annual dropout rate of secondary school students was 14.6 in 2020-2021.

Citing recent studies in her presentation, Mukherjee said 36 per cent of Indians between the ages of 15 and 34 believe that unemployment is the biggest problem facing the country. She said one survey showed 40 per cent of graduates identified unemployment as their most pressing concern.

Said P.J. Kurien, chairperson of IAPPD: “It is important that all MPs take up population-related issues. They need to ask what percentage of the budget is devoted to education and health and ensure that every child goes to school with special attention given to girls.”

Echoing Kurien, Sharma said it was up to members of parliament to ensure that no child is left out in his or her constituency. “The solution is in your hands, but the prioritisation is missing.”

Delegates outlined at the workshop legislative steps taken by Parliamentarians in their countries in implementing the International Conference on Population Development’s Programme of Action and 2030 Agenda.

Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel, Member, House of Representatives of the Philippines, said over the last two decades, her country had enacted such legislations as the Magna Carta of Women, Reproductive Health Law, 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave, Act Prohibiting Child Marriage, Universal Health Care Act, Youth Council Reform and Empowerment Act, and an Act to enable conditional cash transfers.

On the anvil, she said, is the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Bill, a law to recognise, evaluate and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work done by women, and another to accord social protection for older persons and the promotion of active aging.

For 2023, the budget allocation for reproductive health was $14.9 million dollars, and that for training teachers to implement comprehensive sexuality education was $13.8 million, Lacson-Noel said.

Andrea W. Wojnar, UNFPA India representative and country director for Bhutan, said with the right expertise and skills, India’s 1.4 billion people could be turned into 1.4 billion opportunities.

Wojnar said India, with its large youth cohort — its 254 million youth in the 15-24 age bracket — can be a source of innovation and solutions, especially if girls and women are provided educational opportunities and skills to access new technologies and are empowered to fully exercise their reproductive rights and choices.

With close to 50 per cent of its population below the age of 25, India has a time-bound opportunity to benefit from the demographic dividend, according to Wojnar.

“Women and girls should be at the centre of sexual and reproductive policies and programmes. When rights, choices, and equal value of all people are truly respected and held, only then can we unlock a future of infinite possibilities,” Wojnar said in a statement.

“As the national fertility rate falls below 2.1 (the replacement level), India is at a unique historical opportunity, witnessing a great demographic transition as a youthful nation,” Wojnar said, adding that India also has the largest number of outmigrants and is affected by ageing, urbanisation and issues around sustainable development.

Wojnar warned that, overall, the Asia Pacific region was six times more likely to be affected by disaster events than other regions and is highly susceptible to changing weather patterns, calling for special attention by governments.

The Declaration presented to the Sherpa of the G-20 called on governments, among other things, to implement comprehensive legislation and policies that address all forms of gender-based violence and eradicate harmful practices such as child marriage, early and forced.

It also called for investment in sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as comprehensive sexuality education toward making future societies economically dynamic and for building peaceful, inclusive, and sustainable societies. Support for political and economic participation by women and girls could ensure the development of societies that guarantee liberty and individual choice for women and girls, it said.

Governments were asked to promote and assure equitable access to health innovation, finance, technology, and medicines in the global community which can support human security, leaving no one behind.

Acknowledgement of the grave impacts of environment/climate change and global warming was important, as also the need to promote policies that address the needs of geographically vulnerable countries, which is a threat to health and human security, the Declaration said.

Investing in young people by providing decent work opportunities and enabling them to become a driving force for sustainable development was important as also addressing active and healthy ageing to enhance people’s overall quality of life by improving areas such as health and long-term care through resilient universal health coverage, physical security, and income stability.

Governments were also asked to enact national legislation and policies and ensure political will through allocation, oversight, and monitoring of budgetary resources to build universal health coverage, which is vital to enhance the global health framework.

IPS UN Bureau Report


NDC Partnership: Supporting a Global Network of Youth Climate Advocates

Biodiversity, Civil Society, Climate Change, Combating Desertification and Drought, Development & Aid, Environment, Featured, Global, Green Economy, Headlines, Humanitarian Emergencies, Inequity, Natural Resources, NDC Partnership, Sustainability, TerraViva United Nations, Water & Sanitation, Youth

Climate Change

Madrelle, Loubiere, Dominica 2017, a few days after Category 5 Hurricane Maria struck the island. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 19 2021 (IPS) – Just over six months after launching its Youth Engagement Plan, the NDC Partnership, the coalition assisting governments with their climate action plans, has brought together youth climate advocates for its inaugural NDC Global Youth Engagement Forum.

NDCs, or Nationally Determined Contributions, refer to governments’ commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an integral part of the Paris Climate Agreement. NDCs are scheduled for revision every five years and are expected to be increasingly ambitious to tackle the climate crisis effectively.

Countries and the NDC Partnership want to ensure that, as agents of implementation, young people have platforms for engagement and a say in national climate action.

The Partnership recently brought youth together in 3 regional groupings: Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The young people engaged with representatives of partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) through sessions like ‘agriculture and climate change,’ and ‘equipping young people to engage in the NDC process.’

The NDC Partnership, the coalition assisting governments with their climate action plans, has brought together youth climate advocates for its inaugural NDC Global Youth Engagement Forum. Credit: NDC Partnership

The participants say the teaching element was bolstered by the opportunity to be heard, as the organizers asked for their input in areas that include NDC enhancement, structures needed to strengthen youth involvement, and ways young people are already impacting climate action.

For youth like Natalia Gómez Solano of Costa Rica, the forum provided a space to share experiences and ideas.

“Working for a more resilient and a more just, low-emissions world moves us, and that is why we are here today,” she told the virtual event.

“We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and they are worsening. We need increased adaptation and mitigation action, and the NDCs are the key instruments to achieve that. The NDCs are the roadmaps for climate ambition in which young people are key in bringing new climate solutions to the conversations and to raise action.”

Jamaica’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment, and Climate Change, Dr Alwin Hales, told the Latin America and Caribbean forum that the virtual event and Youth Engagement Plan hope to leverage the ‘leadership and power’ of youth into NDC implementation and enhancement.

“Today’s children and young people are caught in the center of climate change, for it is they who have to live with and manage its consequences,” he said.

“The NDC Partnership launched the Youth Engagement Plan (YEP). It aims is to build young people’s capacity on climate change matters and engage the youth in global NDC partnership activities. This is in direct support of our mission to increase alignment, coordination, and access to resources to link needs with solutions.”

The forum was proposed by the NDC Partnership’s Youth Task Force but is a priority of the NDC Partnership’s Steering Committee and Co-Chairs, Jamaican Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment, and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr. and U.K. Minister Alok Sharma, who also serves as President of COP 26.

Noting that young people are vital to effective action on climate change, NDC Partnership Global Director Pablo Vieira Samper reminded them that their input also ensures that action is inclusive.

“We want to hear about what capacity or technical support is still needed and what learning you are eager to share with your peers,” he said.

“The Youth Engagement Plan was the starting point for greater action for youth engagement in NDCs. Today the NDC Partnership is thrilled to be turning this plan into concrete steps for more meaningful engagement and bringing new ideas to this framework to inspire action. We look forward to your insights as we collaborate across the Partnership to build a low carbon, climate-resilient future by supporting sustainable development.”

The youth attending the forum have described it as an important platform for highlighting the challenges faced by young climate activists.

“It is important to increase climate finance to support projects that are led by children and youth and integrate a rights-focused education curriculum in schools and universities,” said Xiomara Acevedo, the Founder and Chief Executive of Barranquilla+20, an NGO run by young people who empower their peers to tackle issues of biodiversity, sustainability, policy inclusion, and climate change.

Acevedo’s NGO has reached over 2,000 young people. She says it is clear that youth have a unique role to play in climate activism.

“We have seen that involving young people at the local and subnational level has also helped to ensure that a lot of citizens are seeing that climate action is not something beyond their territories, or is not only a topic that is managed at the national level. They can relate our message to their narrative, to their realities. We engage climate action as an important topic in the local agendas,” she said.

According to UNICEF, including youth in climate change action is important to achieving Sustainable Development Goals 13,2 which urges urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; 16,3 which calls for the promotion of peaceful, inclusive societies for sustainable development and 17,4 with its target of assistance to developing countries in attaining debt sustainability.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released its NDCs scorecard in February. It applauded countries for strengthening their commitments to the Paris Agreement but encouraged them to further step up their mitigation pledges, adding that greenhouse gas emissions targets were falling ‘far short’ of what is required to achieve the Agreement’s goals.

Young people like Natalia Gómez Solano say as custodians of the planet, youth must be mobilized, and their voices amplified to arrive at the deep emissions reductions needed in the NDCs.

“We need to integrate more voices and reach more places. As the Latin America and Caribbean Region, we need to keep working, keep asking, keep demanding, and doing more. Not all youth know how to be involved in climate action, and we need to work with more young people, for example, in the rural areas,” she said.

The delegates at the NDC Partnership’s inaugural Youth Engagement Forum say they are hoping for more opportunities at the table.

They say it takes persistence, organization, time, and passion to achieve climate goals. It also takes an empowered, well-connected, and financed global network of youth.