Nadi, Fiji – The participation of young people in formal decision-making processes are key to the prosperity and stability of any nation, and young people must be given every opportunity to have their voices heard in national decision-making.

Osnat Lubrani, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative made these comments at the opening of a workshop for youths from the Fiji’s Western Division aimed at identifying youth challenges and sharing information and experiences on available opportunities, particularly in the areas of social issues and democratic governance, and youth entrepreneurship.

Youth make up one-third of Fiji’s population and have the potential to make a difference in the community, improve current living standards and increase access for all in the development process.

The workshop, Building Capacities of Youth to Enable Effective Democratic Participation and Social Cohesion, was coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Council of Fiji.

“I must reiterate that Government fully supports the empowering and building the capacity of youths should be treated with utmost importance and should be awarded due attention at all levels of the community,” said Josefa Sania, Permanent Secretary for Youth and Sports.

“It is through such initiatives and collaborations that we as partners and agencies display our honour and support towards young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies. Youth engagement, empowerment, and capacity building are essential for building a more just, sustainable, and peaceful nation and world,” he said.

“Fiji will join countries of the world later this month in committing to achieve a new ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said Ms. Lubrani. “It is timely therefore for young people to take an introspective look at their participation and ask: is there more we can contribute? Can we do even better to shape Fiji’s development as a democratic state? What support do we need to have a strong say on our country’s future direction?”

“We need to provide tangible solutions that are applicable and practicable today and not tomorrow as such capacity building workshops this tap into the natural leadership skills of those in the community and nurtures the interest in young people to be leaders and we acknowledge this partnership with the United Nations,” said Mr. Sania.

This Nadi workshop concludes a series of four workshops held in August in Labasa, Taveuni and Nativi village in Ra, and is part of UNDP’s Strengthening Youth Participation in the Transition to Democracy project. Started in Fiji in 2012, it is supported by the Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund established by UNDP. The workshops was built on a youth empowerment programme of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and includes awareness raising on key democratic governance principles and the participation of youths in national and sub-national decision making processes.

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