Message from President James A. Michel on Commonwealth Day, 9th March 2015

Sun, 08 March 2015 | Commonwealth

‘A Young Commonwealth’ as the theme for 2015 is in recognition of the many young people who form part of the Commonwealth family.

As we celebrate Commonwealth Day, it is appropriate that we reflect on the hopes and aspirations of this special group of people. It is a time to better acknowledge and appreciate their pivotal contribution to society.

We say that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow. This is so and the hope of the older generations is that their guidance and experiences would have contributed to enable those leaders of tomorrow to become the responsible citizens we can be proud of today.

It is equally true that there are many young leaders today. They are leaders in their respective fields, be it in technology, entrepreneurship, politics, medicine, teaching and so on.

There are also young students, young parents, young daughters and sons around the Commonwealth, all of whom in their own unique way are making a difference in the World.

As an organization, the Commonwealth is doing much to support the aspirations of this special group of people.

The Commonwealth Youth Programme works towards empowering the young people.

This year the fifth edition of the Commonwealth Youth Games will be held and will see the participation of up to 1000 athletes from around the Commonwealth. An event that was initiated in 2000, it will continue to be an important occasion, which brings together the youth from the Commonwealth family in a spirit of competition, fairness and unity.

The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work is another initiative by the Commonwealth to help celebrate the role that young people are playing in development and as nation builders.

The younger generations will be the ones to continue to embrace the fundamental values and principles of a continuously evolving Commonwealth. These values and principles such as democracy, good governance and sustainable development, which we all hold in high esteem, are solid foundations for a much better world.

Seychelles highly values the potential and capacity of its young people. The Seychelles Institute of Early Childhood Development has been designed to cater for the needs of the very young. The need to listen to the views of the youth and to create the right environment for them to develop are some of the aims of the Seychelles National Youth Council.

The Seychelles National Youth Assembly is another forum which prepares young people to become decision-makers. The Seychelles’ Young Leaders Programme is preparing future leaders in various fields for future leadership roles.

As we approach the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals this year, the world is equally conscious of the challenges that we still face and how these constraints have an impact on the lives of young people. It is truly unfortunate that in many parts of the world today it is difficult for young children to get a primary education and, at times, impossible for a young girl to get any education at all.

As a Small Island Developing State, Seychelles also firmly believes that Climate Change is one of the most pressing issues that we face today. Climate change is a reality that is being felt around the world.  Seychelles has continuously advocated that the countries of the world should work together on that now rather than later. We did so during the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa last year. We repeated the same message at the UN Climate Change Summit in September 2014. It is our hope that the World will come out with a legally binding agreement on climate change in 2015. We must achieve that if we are committed to safeguarding the future of the younger generations.

As the world comes to define a new global development framework in 2015, Seychelles would also like to see that the sustainable development goals also include the sustainability of the oceans – our Blue Economy.

The theme “A young Commonwealth” above all implies one main thing. It implies that the future of the Commonwealth lies in the hands of its youth.  It is up to all of us to create the right conditions for the young people to thrive and develop their potential.

More than ever before, young people need to be engaged. We must better leverage the contributions of the youth as we work against negative forces that fragment human society while we strengthen values and aspirations that are common to all.

Youth are not just beneficiaries of programmes – they are essential actors in finding solutions to the issues faced by the world today. Their energy and leadership have proven to make a real difference. In this process, their respect and appreciation of the older generations will be essential.

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