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Over the recent years, we have been experiencing a shift in the demographic profile of our populations, tilting towards favouring young people, and there are increasing concerted efforts to engage youth within socio-economic development.

The Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) is the world’s largest and most diverse youth-led organisation. We both value and look beyond our differences, adding colour to the Commonwealth we live in. We believe that ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’ is a Commonwealth for all; whereby the ideas, beliefs and aspirations of its people are valued and built upon the guiding principles of the Commonwealth Charter like tolerance, respect and understanding.

In celebrating diversity, there is a recognition and affirmation of the differences among members of society, whereby they feel that they are playing a part and are provided with the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives. A unified voice that over-rides differences of race, gender, class, generation, and geography, is one that ensures inclusion, equality of opportunity, and acknowledges the capabilities of all members of society.

As one of the Commonwealth’s greatest assets, it is imperative for young people to actively participate in ensuring the development and sustainability of each member state. It is vital for the CYC to bring young leaders from diverse cultural backgrounds together with regional leaders from various sectors to jointly explore solutions for an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future. Commonwealth citizens must have the confidence to engage and interact with each other, and build mutual trust while acknowledging their differences.

Last year at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, I had the opportunity to express the good will of young people to heads of government from the Commonwealth. In particular, that we welcome and encourage on-going partnership and collaboration between CYC, the Commonwealth Secretariat, member states, and civil society in moving forward towards an inclusive and sustainable future for young people. In the spirit of this year’s Commonwealth theme ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’, I am positive that we can seize this future together because we are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions.

 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

 

Kishva will be carrying the Commonwealth Mace at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on 14 March. The Mace was a gift of the Royal Anniversary Trust to The Queen in her role as Head of the Commonwealth, on the fortieth anniversary of her accession to the throne. The Mace is used on special Commonwealth occasions, including the Commonwealth Day celebrations in London, and at biennial Heads of Government Meetings.