Young leaders said they need to be included in efforts for good governance and leadership in the Pacific, as the Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference closed at the Commonwealth Youth Programme Regional Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

3 out of 5 Pacific islanders are young people (15-29 years old) but they are often sidelined in decision-making. Good governance and leadership projects and initiatives often do not include youth but focus on older bureaucrats and politicians.

In an upcoming outcomes statement from the conference, young leaders said governments, regional organisations, donors and non-government organisations needed to include young people in decision-making and leadership roles, as they are 60% of the Pacific population. Young people from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Marshall Islands, Niue, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu drafted the call for change to have young people represented and active in decision-making forums.

The Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference participants called for:

. Youth Ministry focal points, national youth councils and young people to engage to address constraints to youth participation in decision making
. Effective partnerships with young leaders in country and across the Pacific
. Governments and regional agencies to create meaningful and relevant opportunities to have a place in decision making at all levels
. Agencies and donors to partner with young leaders to develop a coordinated approach to foster good governance and leadership at the local, national and regional levels throughout the Pacific

The young leaders expressed appreciation for regional agencies, which provide young leaders with expert advice and mentoring and funding support. They thanked the Commonwealth Youth Programme, Commonwealth Pacific Governance Facility, Pacific Leadership Programme, United Nations Development Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, International Labour Organization and Oceania Football Confederation for providing funding to attend this week's conference.

Young leaders also said it was important to recognise leaders are not just elected politicians or powerful officials but are in civil society, where youth are very active.

Young leaders said in the outcomes statement:

"Sport is an effective development tool for building stronger communities for sustainable social and human development in the Pacific. Arts culture and religion contribute to the personal development of young people in the Pacific. Young leaders recognise the importance of being involved in high level decision making to ensure that youth concerns are recognised in development strategies. Young leaders call for more capacity building opportunities designed to build the leadership skills such as youth parliaments, youth summits, youth councils and analogous."

As the Duke of Cambridge said on Monday in his speech to the conference organised by the Commonwealth Youth Programme, young leaders are heirs and successors for the Commonwealth. They are also important leaders today, spearheading programmes and activities in their communities to tackle key social issues.

Another outcome from the conference will be a Youth and Leadership Manual that youth leaders can use in their work in future.

The Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference is part of the Commonwealth Youth Programme's Pacific Centre's work to
engage and empower young people (ages 15-29) and enhance their contribution to development.