Stakeholders in Vanuatu convened for a 3-day forum at Ramada Resort with the aim of empowering the nation’s youth this week.

Director of Youth and Sports, Russel Tamata, commented on the significance of this event in addressing the challenges faced by Vanuatu’s young population.

“Vanuatu boasts a youthful population, with approximately 87% of our citizens below the age of 30. This dynamic demographic landscape presents both opportunities and challenges. Our young people hold immense potential, but they also encounter various hurdles in their path to realizing their dreams,” stated Tamata.

These challenges encompass limited access to skills development programs, secondary and tertiary education, formal employment opportunities, underdeveloped youth entrepreneurship, and the need for strengthening civic education and volunteerism initiatives. Climate change impacts and natural hazards further compound these issues.

To overcome these challenges and secure a brighter future for Vanuatu’s youth, the government looks to amplify the vision outlined in the 2030 National Sustainable Development Plan. This ambitious plan aims to build a stable economy with equitable, sustainable growth, job creation, and inclusive income opportunities, particularly for vulnerable groups.

Tamata reflected on the importance of collective ownership of this plan, fostering collaborative partnerships among national stakeholders, and pooling resources for effective implementation. Comprehensive understanding of youth needs and challenges is crucial, coupled with the implementation of the National Human Resources Development Plan.

“Our journey also demands a commitment to better governance and public administration to deliver quality public services and the decentralisation of services to reach every corner of our nation,” added Tamata.

Vanuatu has learned valuable lessons from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Scoping Mission, leading to the concept of developing the Vanuatu Youth Hub. This national platform will unite stakeholders from the public, private sector, academia, civil society, youth organizations, and development partners to address various youth challenges and empower them for active citizenship.

Miss Yemesrach Workie, Deputy Resident Representative UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, commended Vanuatu for its commitment to addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by its youth. She highlighted the nation’s resilience in the face of adversity and the importance of investing in youth empowerment for the demographic dividend to be fully realized.

The Vision 2030 National Sustainable Development Plan aligns with the forum’s goals, and the focus is on translating these objectives into concrete actions.

Workie stressed UNDP’s commitment to leave no one behind and support governments in delivering services to remote areas. Women and youth are integral to UNDP’s programming, particularly in areas such as access to justice, livelihood generation, environmental conservation, and peace building.

The engagement of youth in sustainable development is central to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda. The forum serves as a stepping-stone in this regard.

Director Tamata invited all participants to actively contribute their expertise to discussions on the framework and vision of the Vanuatu Youth Hub over the next three days.

“Together, we will work tirelessly to empower our youth, bridging the gaps and providing them with the tools they need to thrive. I have no doubt that the outcomes of this forum will shape the destiny of our nation and leave a lasting legacy of progress and prosperity for generations to come,” Tamata concluded.

Ms Workie added that the establishment of the Vanuatu Youth Hub represents a dynamic approach to youth empowerment, focusing on inclusivity, coordination, and a holistic understanding of young people’s needs.

In the coming days, discussions and collaboration will focus on empowering Vanuatu’s youth and contributing to broader development goals. Participants’ input is critical to shaping support for youth through these hubs.

Ms Workie expressed her gratitude to the Government of Vanuatu, partners, and participants for their dedication to this critical cause, noting the opportunity to collaborate, innovate, and commit to creating a more prosperous and equitable future for Vanuatu’s youth.

“Together, we can empower our young generation to become active and responsible citizens, ensuring they are well-prepared to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future,” she concluded.