The University of the South Pacific Students’ Association (USPSA) launched the inaugurated regional Youth Advisory Board on Governance in the presence of the Honourable Simon Kofe, Minister for Justice, Communication, and Foreign Affairs, Tuvalu, and the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Mr. Henry Puna.

The ceremony, which was also attended by dignitaries from the New Zealand Government and the British High Commission to New Zealand as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji Deputy Resident Representative, was held during the two-day Pacific Conference on Governance organized by USPSA and UNDP.

The new Board will increase the policy and decision-making influence of students and young people from across the Pacific and convey their concerns regarding good governance, particularly as it relates to anti-corruption and the right to information. Specifically, the Board will work at the policy level with the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) and will be specifically affiliated to PIF, to use dialogues, events and advocacy to expand youth engagement on good governance in support of regional policy commitments including in particular the Teieniwa Pacific Unity against Corruption Vision and the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy.

A further positive outcome of the integrity and anti-corruption partnership established in 2021 among the Governments of New Zealand and the United Kingdom, USPSA and UNDP, will see the new Board engage regionally with civil society and women’s organizations, as well as students and other young people, to facilitate informed and effective anti-corruption engagement and generate demand for good governance. More broadly, it aims to reaffirm young people’s connections with the region’s resources and cultures, recognize the importance of collaborative work to strengthen well-functioning institutions, and promote the values of good governance, transparency, accountability and integrity for a just, fairer and more equitable Blue Pacific Continent.

With a secretariat established at USPSA, the Board has nine members aged between 18 and 35 years with ensured gender and sub-regional balance. They will serve for a term of two years.

The Honourable Simon Kofe, Minister for Justice, Communication, and Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu said: “The intersection of corruption and climate change is a complex and pressing issue that needs the attention of policy makers, civil society, and individuals. Corruption undermines efforts to address climate change, while the impacts of climate change create conditions for corruption to thrive.”

Mr Henry Puna, Secretary-General of the PIF, said: “USP’s initiative has connected young people, both to the current regional political leadership and the wider community, empowering them to voice their anti-corruption concerns. To advocate for action. The work has also empowered Pacific youth to engage positively in areas beyond right to information and anti-corruption.”

Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of the South Pacific said, “Our commitments are not only limited to antic-corruption policies, as we are also committed to governance in the Pacific region, and these commitments are exemplified by the University of the South Pacific’s Strategic Plan where good governance continues to be a key priority of the university in its aims to achieve strategic objectives and maintain its long-term viability and reputation and the institution will continue to ensure that the highest level of good governance and ethics are paramount to all operations.”

The Honourable Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister for Māori Development, said: “We know that effective action requires partnership with our Pacific whānaunga — that means meeting their priorities, and supporting local and indigenous-led solutions. There are considerable challenges ahead; in making representation and participation equitable, and making governance effective, transparent, and accountable.”

Mr. Stephen Cartwright, British Consul General, Auckland, said: “I congratulate all Pacific youth for this critical and impactful initiative and the Pacific Leaders for their positive response to it. The UK is delighted to support the creation of the Pacific Youth Advisory Board on Governance, which demonstrates the important role young people have in fostering Pacific cooperation. The UK is committed to supporting youth engagement and to collaborate with like-minded partners in fostering a whole of society approach to Pacific regionalism. We envisage that through initiating this conversation, more innovative contributions will be made throughout the coming days to ensure Pacific Island Countries are better equipped to prevent and tackle corruption in all its forms.”

Ms Yemesrach Workie, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Deputy Resident Representative said: “The inauguration of the regional Youth Advisory Board on Governance is a very strong and ground-breaking impetus to the growing youth anti-corruption movement in the Pacific. The Board sets new standards for youth advocacy and influence in the region, and provides an important new channel to represent the voice of young people at the highest regional political levels. And this vision aligns very closely with UNDP’s core values and mandate related to achieving sustainable development through promoting participatory governance and leaving no one behind.”

The USPSA Youth Advisory Board is supported by UNDP Pacific Office’s projects, Strengthening Anticorruption, Transparency and Accountability in Pacific Island Countries (Pacific Anti-Corruption Project) funded by the Government of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Regional Anti-Corruption Project (UN-PRAC) funded by the New Zealand Government.

Source: Press Release