Nadi, Fiji - Youth representatives from 15 Pacific Island countries and territories gather for the Pacific Youth Anti-Corruption Innovation Lab in Nadi, Fiji to develop innovative solutions to address corruption challenges in selected policy areas.
The Innovation Lab is realized through a partnership between the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project, the Pacific Youth Council, with the support of UNODC’s Education for Justice (E4J) initiative and the Washington & Lee University’s Law School in the United States.
In his opening remarks, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji – Effective Governance Team Leader, Dyfan Jones said, “We know that many of the youth present today have taken innovative approaches in the way they do things. All our field interactions throughout the Pacific Island countries confirm that youth groups have brought new freshness and enthusiasm in the anti-corruption work in the region.
“Innovation implies thinking outside the box, and taking risks, and we need to learn from our challenges every day.
“We believe that this lab can provide tools and ideas that will not only work in the field of corruption, but also more broadly in political participation and representation, oversight of the work of public institutions, access to justice, and other governance and development areas,” said Jones.
Over the next three days, the Innovation Lab will provide a platform and challenge youth leaders from the region to develop approaches to improve the development outcomes for youth in anti-corruption, thereby contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 16 targets.
The Innovation Lab recognizes the talents and contributions of young people in the Pacific as invaluable partners who can advance meaningful solutions and contribute fresh ideas to policy-makers. It also encourages youth to take proactive measures on various issues pertinent to youth development.
Fiji Ministry of Youth and Sports Permanent Secretary, Alison Burchell said, “Corruption is ultimately theft and its often theft from the public purse; if it’s theft then the SDGs will not be achieved, it means the rich are going to get richer and the poor are going to get poorer and what we should do about it is reduce that income gap that exists.
“Most people in Fiji are youth and it is your future as young people, so you need to be able to define what you see as your future. It’s not your future in five or ten years’ time but its’ your future tomorrow. Unless we start acting now, we are not going to be able to make those culture and mind shift changes.”
Joining the regional participants are students from the Washington & Lee University who study corruption and Professor Thomas Speedy Rice who have been doing relevant research on the Pacific. The idea of having students at the event reinforces education as a tool to preventing crime and promoting a culture of lawfulness. It also allows participants to explore the role schools and universities can play in the region to promote integrity, transparency, accountability and the rule of law, and how young people can support these efforts and bring about change.
The four themes of the event are: citizens’ friendly budget, access to information, oceans management and youth role in resilience building and disaster risk management from an accountability perspective.
The three-day event concludes on 29th April 2017.
UN-PRAC is a four-year initiative jointly implemented by UNDP and UNODC with funding from the Australian Government and aims to support Pacific Island countries (PICs) to strengthen their national integrity systems to promote clean governments and create an enabling environment for trade, business, investment and sustainable development to increase in the region.
The Pacific Youth Council, a partner of the Innovation Lab is a non-governmental regional organization that empowers young people to become active citizens and leaders; the PYC is hosted, as an independent entity, by the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva.
And UNODC’s E4J is a component of the Doha Declaration Global Programme that seeks to prevent crime, corruption and promote a culture of lawfulness through education activities designed for primary, secondary and tertiary levels. These activities will help educators teach the next generation to better understand and address problems that can undermine the rule of law and encourage students to actively engage in their communities and future professions in this regard.
Setaita Tavanabola, Communications and Knowledge Management Associate, tel: 9468 748; email: email@example.com