The University of the South Pacific Students’ Association (USPSA) today inaugurated a regional Youth Advisory Board on Governance in the presence of the Honourable Simon Kofe, Minister for Justice, Communication, and Foreign Affairs, Tuvalu, and the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Mr Henry Puna. The ceremony, which was also attended by dignitaries from the New Zealand Government and the British High Commission to New Zealand as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji Deputy Resident Representative, was held during the two-day Pacific Conference on Governance organized by USPSA and UNDP.
The new Board will increase the policy and decision-making influence of students and young people from across the Pacific and convey their concerns regarding good governance, particularly as it relates to anti-corruption and the right to information. Specifically, the Board will work at the policy level with the Council of Regional Organizations in the Pacific (CROP) and will be specifically affiliated to PIF, to use dialogues, events and advocacy to expand youth engagement on good governance in support of regional policy commitments including in particular the Teieniwa Pacific Unity against Corruption Vision and the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy.
A further positive outcome of the integrity and anti-corruption partnership established in 2021 between USPSA and UNDP, will see the new Board engage regionally with civil society and women’s organizations, as well as students and other young people, to facilitate informed and effective anti-corruption engagement and generate demand for good governance. More broadly, it aims to reaffirm young people’s connections with the region’s resources and cultures, recognize the importance of collaborative work to strengthen well-functioning institutions, and promote the values of good governance, transparency, accountability and integrity for a just, fairer and more equitable Blue Pacific Continent.
With a secretariat established at USPSA, the Board has nine members aged between 18 and 35 years with ensured gender and sub-regional balance. They will serve for a term of two years.
The Honourable Simon Kofe, Minister for Justice, Communication, and Foreign Affairs, Tuvalu said: “The intersection of corruption and climate change is a complex and pressing issue that needs the attention of policy makers, civil society, and individuals. Corruption undermines efforts to address climate change, while the impacts of climate change create conditions for corruption to thrive.”
Mr Henry Puna, Secretary-General of the PIF, said: “USP’s initiative has connected young people, both to the current regional political leadership and the wider community, empowering them to voice their anti-corruption concerns. To advocate for action. The work has also empowered Pacific youth to engage positively in areas beyond right to information and anti-corruption.”
Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of the South Pacific said, ““Our commitments are not only limited to antic-corruption policies, as we are also committed to Governance in the Pacific region, and these commitments is exemplified by the University of the South Pacific’s Strategic Plan where good governance continues to be a key priority of the university in its aims to achieve strategic objectives and maintain its long-term viability and reputation and the institution will continue to ensure that the highest level of good governance and ethics are paramount to all operations.”
The Honourable Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister for Māori Development, said: “Working in partnership with UNDP, the Government of New Zealand is pleased to support this initiative and others across the Pacific aimed at fighting corruption, and delivering good governance for the benefit of all citizens. Today’s youth are the citizens – and the leaders – of the future, and it is heartening to see their determination not to leave things at chance, but to share the responsibility and proactively contribute to advancing the good governance and anti- corruption agenda in the Pacific.”
Mr. Stephen Cartwright, British Consul General, Auckland, said: “I congratulate all Pacific youth for this critical and impactful initiative and the Pacific Leaders for their positive response to it. The creation of the Youth Advisory Board on Governance is an extremely encouraging message for us that we are no longer talking about fragmented and scattered efforts, but we are now witnessing youth being side-by-side with leaders to influence policies and be part of the decision-making process. Pacific youth just sent a message that they mean business, and we are here to listen and support!”
Ms Yemesrach Workie, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Deputy Resident Representative said: “The inauguration of the regional Youth Advisory Board on Governance is a very strong and ground-breaking impetus to the growing youth anti-corruption movement in the Pacific. The Board sets new standards for youth advocacy and influence in the region, and provides an important new channel to represent the voice of young people at the highest regional political levels.
In addition, the University of the South Pacific Students’ Association also launched a Youth Advisory Board on Governance in partnership with UNDP this evening.
The USPSA Youth Advisory Board is supported by UNDP Pacific Office’s projects, Strengthening Anticorruption, Transparency and Accountability in Pacific Island Countries (Pacific Anti-Corruption Project) funded by the Government of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Regional Anti-Corruption Project (UN-PRAC) funded by the New Zealand Government.