You are here

NADI, Fiji, 4 July, 2013 - Thirty young Pacific islanders aged from 12 to 30 years old gathered in Nadi today to discuss issues close to their heart and envision the future they want.

The President of Fiji, His Excellency, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, opened the five day workshop supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

"Today, I encourage our young people to not only envision the future you want but to also take responsibility to make that vision a reality," said Ratu Nailatikau.

UNICEF Representative a.i, Ms. Isabelle Austin said "these young people will participate in the process of developing the outcomes of the Apia 2014 Global Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Conference."

She added that "they are invited to express a common reflection on the destiny of their countries and to issue concrete suggestions that will serve as the starting point for the drafting of an outcomes document which will be the new plan of action for SIDS during the SIDS World Conference, organized by the UN in September 2014."

This workshop is one of several meetings happening across the SIDS regions. The young people of the Caribbean were the first ones to benefit from such an unprecedented and intense experience. Their workshop was held from 26 June until 1 July 2013 in Kingston (Jamaica). The young islanders of the Pacific begin their deliberations today and finally, the Indian Ocean youth will meet in Victoria (Seychelles) from the 11 until 16 July 2013.

UNFPA Director and Representative a.i Dr Annette Sachs Robertson said young people are essential to the future of small island developing countries.

"Here in the Pacific young people are a vibrant and diverse group and we look forward to the contributions that they will make, particularly in the area of improving sexual and reproductive health," Dr Robertson said.

Several youth representatives elected by these young people will have the opportunity to represent the voices of SIDS youth during various regional and inter-regional preparatory meetings in the coming months.

The Third SIDS Conference, which will be held in 2014, occurs twenty years after the UN Member States gathered for the first time in Barbados in order to identify new challenges and specific needs of SIDS.

In 1994, the first SIDS Conference endorsed the Barbados Program of Action (BPOA) as the blueprint for addressing these special challenges. Fourteen key areas were identified covering the environment, energy and communication, tourism and human resource development.

Twenty years later, the United Nations will convene a review and recommitment to development in Small Islands when Member States will come together in Apia, Samoa. The original Program of Action and the Implementation Strategy developed in Mauritius during the ten year review will be examined to determine what progress has been made in twenty years, what challenges still exist and key priorities for internationally agreed development goals in the post 2015 agenda (linking with the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference held in 2012 on the theme ‘the Future We Want').

While the international community will be celebrating in 2014 the International year for Small Island Developing States, the Third SIDS International Conference will also include youth representatives who, for the first time, will voice their opinions regarding the future they want for themselves.

The workshop is held in Nadi, Fiji from July 4th-9th, 2013.