Honiara, Solomon Islands – According to the latest national census, seven out of ten Solomon Islanders are under the age of 29. However, there is inadequate support for youth participation in economic and political decision making, suggests preliminary findings from State of Youth in Solomon Islands Report 2016, an independent research conducted by Dr. Anouk Ride who specializes in participatory research methodologies to examine aid, conflict, disasters and social change, commissioned with support from United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) project.
“How youth can better access information about development, including constituency funds and influence Member of Parliament decision making is a critical issue for the future of Solomon Islands”, said Dr. Ride at a presentation that was held at Heritage Park Hotel. This research is expected to become a policy paper on the status of youth in Solomon Islands and will be presented to the national stakeholders.
“Youth participation is key to peace building and sustainable development therefore, investing in youth continues to be an important focus for United Nations in Solomon Islands”, Ms. Azusa Kubota, UN Head of Joint Presence Office said at the presentation.
The recommendations are also expected to help UNPBF and other UN programmes on identifying effective support to youth in Solomon Islands and inform various government and non-government actors involved in peacebuilding and youth development work. The presentation was well-attended by representatives from the New Zealand, Australian and Taiwanese High Commissions and other government and non-government actors.
Dr. Franco Rodie, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education supported the call for better implementation and coordination of youth participation. He also highlighted the lack of action at rural level and the need to identify what can be done to improve the situation of youth in rural areas.
Youth representatives attended and supported key findings from the research, and highlighted the importance of youth participation. Mr. Harry James Olikwailafa from Honiara Youth Council emphasized the need for young people to be front and centre of decision making and reports.
Ms. Marisa Pepa from the Young Women's Parliamentary Group shared some of the challenges of youth engagement, especially on how youth in rural areas can influence policy makers.
Currently besides this research, UNPBF is launching a livelihood plus peacebuilding programme for marginalized youth from hotspot areas in partnership with the Coconut Technology Centre and Youth at Work. Since 2016, UNPBF has been working to support youth engagement with policy makers, including a special programme to support young women. UNPBF is also working to organize a youth innovative summit this year and providing grants to support youth activities in marginalized communities.
UNPBF project is aiming to support peaceful & inclusive transition in Solomon Islands, jointly implemented by UNDP and UN Women in close collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation & Peace, and Ministry of Women, Youth, Children & Family Affairs.
Sandra Barrows, Communications & Media Specialist, UNDP Solomon Islands, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +677 27446 ext. 5527