The 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which officially begins in Malta next Friday, opened Saturday with the first pre-CHOGM event – the Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF).
The five-day forum will see youth delegates explore the key issues facing their generation, and determine their role in implementing the Global Goals. It is being held under the theme “Adding Global value…#WhatNext?” At the opening ceremony, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said: “Don’t be afraid to come up with outrageous ideas. Don’t hide from provocative debates. We expect this sort of energy from young people, and I am confident that you will use this Forum to push through an ambitious agenda.”
In his opening address, the outgoing Commonwealth’s Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma said: “At every Commonwealth summit, the Youth Forum brings immense dynamism and energy. It is a hive of activity, buzzing with ideas and ambition…participants in this Forum are standard bearers for the 1.2 billion young people living in the Commonwealth. Young people are the DNA of the Commonwealth.” The opening ceremony also featured short speeches from Ms Gulalai Ismail, the Commonwealth Asia Youth Award Winner 2015, Mr Victor Ochen, the Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year 2015, and Mr Ahmed Adamu, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council. In her speech, Ms Ismail urged youth delegates, “Believe in your dreams. Not because you can change the world, but because you have to change the world.”
The 2015 CYF meeting is expected to be attended by over 200 young people from across the Commonwealth. The Youth Forum is the first of four pre-CHOGM meetings which will include a People’s Forum, Business Forum and the first-ever Women’s Forum. With 60 per cent of the Commonwealth’s population of 2.3 billion under the age of 30, youth is a major focus of this CHOGM as a major force for change. Key themes for this summit will include security in light of recent terrorist attacks, climate change, and gender equality. The Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network (CYGEN) will have a significant presence at the forum, as will The Queen’s Young Leaders, a programme run by The Royal Commonwealth Society, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and Comic Relief.