Tigoa, Rennell Island, November 24 – Young people from Rennell and Bellona Province join a bigger National Youth Congress family following a week-long leadership workshop.
As part of the programme, the UN Development Programme, in cooperation with World Vision, Development Exchange Services and the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, led the process of revitalization the Provincial Youth Council in Rennell and Bellona.
A leadership workshop involved more than 100 young representatives from different wards and aimed to empower youth and strengthen their participation in decision-making. As part of the revitalization, Renbel Youth Council Executives’ elections were held at the end of the programme.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ms Nanise Saune-Qaloewai, highlighted the significant role young people play in “building an inclusive, united and peaceful nation”, stressing that such initiatives “to foster peaceful dialogue, promoting long-term confidence-building and cooperation between leaders”.
“We aim to empower youth through the recognition of their potential contribution in conflict-resolution and their participation in the identification of innovative solutions for the sustainable management of communal land,” she further concluded.
Mr Alfred Kiva, Youth Development Officer, from the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs reaffirmed Ministry’s commitment to “continuing to invest in youths’ leadership and boost their positive contribution to sustainable development and peace.”
Echoing the same sentiments, Ms Hellen Ohukeni, Director Land Reform at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey emphasized “empowering our youths with land rights plays a pivotal role in empowering people and sustaining peace.”
“We are grateful to partner with UNDP and World Vision, DSE and other development partners to bridge the gaps between land chiefs and youths in Rennell and Bellona Province,” Ms Ohukeni noted.
To effectively empower youth, promote their competencies and resilience and positively affect their social roles, Mr Glins Kherah Clay, Deputy Director for the Ministry of Traditional Governance Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs emphasized the need for “peacebuilding at multiple levels of society including the family, school and community.”
“Empowered young people support the development of an inclusive and peaceful society,” Mr Clay said. “Through building skills for adaptability, peacebuilding skills, sports, recreation and adolescent focused programmes, we empower young people with knowledge and skills needed to become leaders tomorrow.”
Mr Andrew Taylor Awa, Solomon Islands National Youth Congress National Executive Committee-Secretary, underlined the importance of having youth in building an inclusive and strong country, stressing that such initiatives “help educate young people to unite in a more coordinated manner and more actively communicate their experiences in the youth work sector”.
“Youth is the driving force of community development, and therefore, ensuring effective mechanism to support youth empowerment and leadership should be among everyone’s top-priorities,” Mr Taylor said.
Speaking on behalf of World Vision Solomon Islands, Ms Nancy Waegao, Sector Portfolio Manager, saluted young leaders and partners involved in this “worthy initiative that needs to become an integral part of the wider youth development programmes.”
“Establishing youth caucuses and revitalizing youth councils we not only enable young people to stand up for themselves but also voice their concerns at both provincial and national levels,” Ms Waegao.
The one-week leadership and revitalization programme of Provincial Youth Council is part of the Bridging traditional governance and the rule of law through youths’ participation as agents of peace and change in Rennell and Bellona which is implemented by UNDP Solomon Islands and World Vision in partnership with Development Exchange Service with the financial support from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.
To utilize young people’s potential as agents of change, requires involving and empowering them in development, policy discussions and ensuring their participation at all levels of the society. UNDP partners with young people, youth organizations, actors from civil society and private sector, government ministries and members of the UN family to promote youth-focused and youth-led development.