The Pacific Youth Summit with the theme ‘Resilient Youth Leaders: Drivers of Sustainable Development’ brought together around 5,000 youth leaders, students and professionals from across the Pacific region focusing on the importance of integrity and decisive youth action on anti-corruption, transparency, and accountability in public and private governance.
The Summit was hosted by The University of the South Pacific Students Association (USPSA) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project funded by the New Zealand Government on 7 December 2021.
USP’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia, thanked USPSA and UNDP for bringing together such a remarkable gathering of leaders from around the region in his welcome statement adding that education played a critical role in creating the future leaders.
“Our mission at USP is to shape Pacific futures by empowering students, staff, and alumni to become inspirational agents of positive change, leading to innovative, cohesive, resilient, and sustainable societies,” he stated.
Professor Ahluwalia said it was pleasing to note that youths had seized the opportunity to commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day, which falls on 9 December, through such an educational platform to strengthen intergenerational and regional conversations around integrity amongst youths.
“Corruption is one of the prevalent threats to achieving sustainable development as it not only weakens good governance and democracy but also development in the Pacific. The fight against corruption matters tremendously to everyone, especially to the most vulnerable people in society,” he added.
He emphasised, “You are the hope of our future generation, and what you do today will act as a catalyst for our future generations.”
Bulou Salanieta Suguta, a third-year Bachelor of Commerce student at USP majoring in Economics and Finance, said it was her first Pacific Youth Summit and she cherished every minute of the sessions.
“It was an incredible experience promoting creative solutions to issues that touch not only young people but the entire Pacific Island nations,” she said.
“The event was intellectually stimulating and I felt emotional during it because the topics that were brought to light were issues that I was personally affected by.”
Bulou believes the Pacific Youth Summit was a fantastic forum that should be continued in the future so that vulnerable youth voices can be heard.
“It also provided a chance for youths from across the Pacific to collaborate in the construction of a resilient Pacific future,” she added.
She urged young people to take advantage of these such platforms and become advocates for positive change in their communities and around the Pacific.
Kelera Hawea, a student at Fiji National University (FNU), said the Summit was educational and eye-opening as it shed light on the realities in Fiji and throughout the Pacific.
“It is wonderful to see students engage actively and striving to make a difference,” stated the third-year student.
A law student at Emalus Campus, Vanuatu, Angela Tahi, who attended the Summit remotely, said the speakers and discussion forum taught her a lot.
“The primary issue that drew my attention was the topic on bribes and corruption. Many Pacific island countries are battling corruption and bribery today, as demonstrated in the summit, therefore the solution offered by the speakers and other regional campus colleagues has been very beneficial in expanding my awareness on these two areas,” she added.