Giftson Semi, youth rights activist from Gizo, Western Province, Solomon Islands (Photo: UNDP/Gaylyn Puairana)

An electrician by profession, and youth rights advocate by vocation, Giftson Semi’s journey as an activist has already begun. In 2018, Semi was nominated at the Youth Forum from Western and Choiseul Provinces, Solomon Islands, where he took up the role of Secretary at the Western Provincial Youth Caucus.

We do live in a time when young people make up the majority of the world's population. Solomon Islands reflects this global trend, as young people make up 70 percent of the country's population. Nevertheless, despite such impressive figures, decisions that affect their future are still not made by them.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Solomon Islands through the Inclusive Governance of Natural Resources project is working to provide platforms for dialogue and empowerment to help youth across the country act as agents of change. All along with the Phase II and supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, UNDP Solomon Islands is providing youth with tools and entrepreneurship and business pieces of training.

Giftson Semi was a participant of the historical Youth Forum in Gizo where the Caucus members were elected, and since 2018, remains an active participant of IGNR consultations for the Traditional Governance Bill and trainings on capacity building for Youth Caucuses. These events provide youth with the opportunity to participate in legislations and policies such as the Traditional Governance Bill (TGB). 

“Working for and with youth is my biggest passion. I’m always hurt to see young people moving in wrong directions which has a negative effect on their lives. Young people can be important drivers and agents of change in the development of their community, province, and most importantly, our country as a whole. Hence, policymakers must involve youth to make the decision-making process more inclusive,” Semi stressed.

Semi focuses on youth and its impact on waste management and is currently leading the H.T. Innovators group. This is a community of youth environment activists who have launch a waste management campaign in Gizo. The idea of campaign is to collect trash from houses of Hill Top Area (HTA) approximately 100-150 households, on a weekly basis.

“As an activist, looking at our natural resource, and comparing it to our rapidly growing population growth, our natural resources are at stake, I want to see natural response managed in a sustainable way. If we do not feasibly manage them, the future generation will not have enough to sustain their livelihood and the economy of our country will also be at stake. That is why we need to act now so that the next generation will also benefit on resources we have enjoyed today,” highlighted Semi.

The COVID-19 crisis poses considerable risks for young people, and especially for vulnerable youth in the fields of education, employment, mental health and disposable income. Moreover, while youth and future generations will shoulder much of the long-term economic and social consequences of the crisis, their well-being may be superseded by short-term economic and equity considerations. Due to the pandemic the HTA group and the Youth Caucus had to put many of their plans on hold however some activities are still progressing. The Ministry of Traditional Governance, Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs and Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs supported by UNDP Solomon Islands through the IGNR Project had conducted a series of the Traditional Governance Bill consultations and the revitalization of Provincial Youth Councils. The aim is to support existing avenues especially women and youths to participate in decision-making regarding land and natural resources management decisions.

Mr. Semi further added that: “Youth is playing a very significant role in the communities’ lives. These consultations are essential in times of crisis when quick decisions need to be made. Such events help to hear the voices of young people and build an inclusive and strong country where everyone is part of the dialogue.”

With the 2030 Agenda as a guiding thread, UNDP works to advance young people’s participation in civic and political life, their economic empowerment and their role as peace- and resilience-builders.

The article is prepared within the Inclusive Governance of Natural Resources (IGNR) project implemented by UNDP Solomon Islands and UN Women with the financial support of the UN Peacebuilding Fund to support and empower local youth and women of the Solomon Islands to ensure their participation in the decision-making processes.

Contact information:

Anastasiia Tiurmenko, Communications Specialist – Inclusive Governance of Natural Resources Project, UNDP Solomon Islands,; (+677) 274 46 

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