The Government of Uganda proudly hosted the historical 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Kampala from July 31 to August 4, 2017, says Janat B Mukwaya, the minister for Gender Labour and Social Development.
“Youth ministers, youth leaders, youth workers and youth sector stakeholders from across the Commonwealth countries and beyond appreciated Uganda very much as a host and promised to come back,” Ms Mukwaya said at the meeting’s closing ceremony.
She disclosed that Commonwealth governments during the Kampala pledged to redouble efforts to “bridge the gap” in financing young people’s development.
“Ministers emphasized the importance of putting young people at the forefront,” she said. “Like the theme suggested, throughout the week, ministers worked hard to look at alternative financing other than government commitments towards empowering young people.”
“Ministers also acknowledged the diversity and interests of various youth like in gender, income, geography and age and deliberated about how to empower and address the needs of the marginalized ones specially in rural areas,” she added.
The summit was opened by President Yoweri Museveni, who challenged young people to “identify the fundamental challenges of their time and devote their energies to resolving them”.
In their joint communique, the youth ministers presented to media by Minister Mukwaya, they recognised that young people make a “critical contribution” to national development, while acknowledging that “huge challenges” exist in financing young people’s needs, including their education and health.
Ministers agreed to “mainstream youth priorities across all stages of policy-making and public spending, and ensure they are integrated with national development and sustainable financing strategies,” they said.
The ministers warned that without major reforms in resource allocation, spending and service delivery, many countries are unlikely to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. “In order to bridge this gap, ministers pledged to redouble their efforts and follow a multi-stakeholder approach to mobilise adequate financing.”
The 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting was attended by more than 300 delegates, including ministers and senior officials from 32 countries.
In their declaration, the ministers said they would pursue policies to pomote the professionalisation of youth work and promote youth and social entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, as well as innovative financing mechanisms, such as youth impact bonds. They agreed to encourage the private sector to “take steps to address the skills gap and provide more apprenticeships and decent entry-level jobs for young people”.
Responding to the concerns of the youth leaders about a “digital divide” and the rise of disruptive technologies, the ministers also agreed to take steps to promote digital literacy and skills training and education.
One of the major outcomes was an agreement to establish a new Commonwealth Youth Ministerial Task Force. It will be composed of 10 members and will champion policy recommendations from CYMM at regional and intergovernmental forums.
The summit also the launch of the Commonwealth Higher Education Consortium for Youth Work, which will help aspiring or untrained youth workers to obtain a professional qualification. In addition, two major reports by the Commonwealth Secretariat on the status of youth work and mainstreaming youth policies were published.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the government and people of Uganda for delivering an inspirational Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting. Article sixteen of the Commonwealth Charter recognises that our future success rests with the contributions of young people in sustaining our values and principles.
“Our goal was to build a consensus on the priorities we must pursue to enable young people to play a positive and active role in promoting development, peace and democracy. We arrived in Uganda with a huge sense of expectation and leave with great determination, and optimism, for the task ahead.”
Kishva Ambigapathy, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, said: “It has been an exciting few days, meeting with fellow youth leaders from across the Commonwealth to have an intellectual discourse on advancing the agenda of resourcing and financing youth development. We have identified the challenges, and now we are devising solutions.”
During the conference, ministers also welcomed an offer by the government of Jamaica to host the next Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in 2021.