Address by President Danny Faure to the Youth Forum on the Occasion of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018
18 April 2018 | Commonwealth
Good morning youth delegates,
It is a privilege to be here with you this morning, addressing this most important forum. Sixty percent of the Commonwealth’s population are under the age of 30, and youth empowerment is critical in realising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the aspirations of the Commonwealth Charter, which we are all bound to as members of the Commonwealth family.
Young people – you are the future. As policy-makers and leaders, we have a responsibility to ensure that you are placed at the centre of development. Youth mainstreaming is essential to inclusive development outcomes and Seychelles recognises young people as key actors in our Nation’s progress.
As a Small Island Developing State in the Indian Ocean, sustainability and conservation have become vital elements of our people-centred development and progress. The Seychellois youth very much form part of this narrative. My Government is committed to placing them at the forefront of development in line with our aspirations for a healthy future for our planet.
Our Exclusive Economic Zone comprises of over 1.4 million square kilometres of ocean. This is roughly the size of South Africa. This incredible potential of ours lies not only in the hands of Government and policy-makers, but also in the hands of our motivated and aspiring youth. We attach great importance to the welfare of our oceanic space, pioneering the Blue Economy concept. This involves the use of oceans as part of an innovative approach to achieve equity for ourpeople. Over the years, we have seen the youth launch various successful initiatives with the support of the Seychelles Government, particularly in the environment sector.
In 2015 a youth-led NGO, Seychelles Youth AIMS Hub,launched a campaign against plastic bags, encouraging the Seychellois population to move toward reusable bags instead. In 2017, with the support of the Government and Legislative, Seychelles has implemented a successful plastic bag ban.
In 2016, the same youth-led organisation began a programme instituting a Blue Economy internship aimed at mobilising young people to explore possibilities of career development within the Blue Economy and maritime sector. This was supported by the Government’s Blue Economy Department. This cross-sectoral approach is a means to engage our young people to be proactive in promoting and understanding the fundamental principles of the Blue Economy.
Today many of our young people have gained knowledge and interest in the Blue Economy and I am confident that the interns will use their experience to promote and support ocean sustainability in the future.
Another NGO that has collaborated with the Government is Sustainability for Seychelles; an organisation that seeks to promote sustainable, green living in Seychelles working with citizens, the Government, other NGOs and the private sector. This NGO also targets young people and encourages advocacy and youth-based activities and projects. S4S has already worked with the University of Seychelles and the Prison Services in projects impacting greener living for sustainability. They also produced a documentary focused on the latest developments regarding Sustainable Waste Management in Seychelles and potential solutions.
The Ocean Project Seychelles is another example of a completely youth-led NGO doing great work. They aim to educate and engage the people of Seychelles to take action to protect our oceans from the threat of marine plastic pollution. Mobilising schools and communities, the Ocean Project organises monthly beach clean-ups where citizens come together on a Saturday to remove litter from the beaches.
The engagement of young people being part of these initiatives and organisations is proof that the youth of Seychelles are committed to the promotion and application of sustainability – not only for Seychelles but also for the world.The Government has an important role to play in contributing to this active citizenship.
My government continues to provide a system of freeeducation that is focused on equal access and opportunities for all, nurturing young minds to take up positions of responsibility.
The National Youth Policy is reviewed every 5 years, highlighting the Government’s consistent interest in meeting the rapidly changing needs, aspirations and inevitable challenges of the younger generation. The exercise allows us to identify emerging trends and required areas of action to increase the impact of initiatives introduced for youth development.
The Seychelles National Youth Council has elected leaders who frequently meet with young people to discuss policies that affect them. The Government provides the Council with an annual Budget for them to run independent activities that benefit the youth.
I am pleased that this year’s Commonwealth activities havegiven young people the opportunity to voice their concerns and commitments. Your voices are an integral part of finding solutions for our common future.
Seychelles, despite the challenges we face, is committed to building a prosperous future for all, with young people at the centre of our development. We have a responsibility to ensure that the next generation inherits a world that is sustainable, safe, and prosperous.