Tuvalu News

Commonwealth Youth Programme South Pacific


To mark International Youth Day, Commonwealth Youth Programme South Pacific (CYPSP) Regional Director Ms Afu Billy writes on why we should be working with young people to create better futures for all.

“Young people make up nearly half of the populations of the Commonwealth countries and are an asset to their nations. Young people are fresh, vibrant and strong. They have energy, strength and creativity which can be used by governments and other non-government stakeholders for their country’s and communities’ development; and used in their own lives to work toward empowerment.

“The problem in many of our Pacific nations is that we leaders play a great ‘lip service’ but do not follow through. Many of the sentiments we speak of are never realised. Young people need to be empowered.

“However, empowerment does not just happen to young people. Adults, especially those in positions of power, have a very important role in the empowerment of young people. It’s vital they work to create conditions – economic and social – which enable that empowerment to develop.

“Why should young people be empowered? Because between 50 and 70 percent of the developing world’s population is under the age of 30. Around 45 percent of the Commonwealth population live in poverty, on less than US$2 a day; young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults are. Pro-poor strategies must be pro-youth. This vast human resource should be used and not squandered.

“In much of the developing world the youth population will be extremely high in the years leading up to 2015. This is a great economic opportunity – young people will be having fewer children which means they will be more productive with fewer dependents to care for.

“However, young people will only benefit if governments and the private sector invest in young people. If we leave things the way they are now, young people will continue to be the largest ever unemployed group in society.

“CYPSP would like Pacific governments and non-government and civil society organisations working in the Pacific, to start working towards youth empowerment and start taking an ‘assets-based approach’ to youth development.”

For more info on the role Commonwealth Youth Programme South Pacific is taking in empowering young people, including a copy of the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment, contact Media Intern Tessa Johnstone on tessa@cypsp.org.sb or (Solomon Islands) 677 38374.


Commonwealth Youth Programme South Pacific


  • In Tonga, under-20 year olds make up about 50 percent its population of 100,000.  
  • In Vanuatu, about 44 percent of its population (210,000) are young people under the age of 15. 
  • Tuvalu youth aged 15 to 29 years make up more than 50 percent of the population.
  • Solomon Islands young people (age 15 – 29) make up 40 percent of the population.
  • Samoa’s youths make up 50 percent of its total population of 176,710.
  • Of Niue’s 1,625 people, young people make up nearly half.  

The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE)
The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) is the document which guides the Commonwealth Youth Programme in its work. Other youth stakeholders are also encouraged to adopt the principles.

PAYE promotes an assets-based approach to youth development based on the following:

  • It recognises young people as assets to their societies and nations.
  • It builds on young people’s capacities and agency to overcome poverty
  • It engages young people in decision making as partners in democracy and development.

 ‘Young people are empowered when they acknowledge that they have or can create choices in life, are aware of the implications of those choices, make an informed decision freely, take action based on that decision and accept responsibility for the consequences of those actions.’
[The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment 2007 – 2015]

Empowering young people means creating and supporting the enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms, rather than at the directions of others. These enabling conditions fall into four broad categories:

  • An enabling economic and social base
  • Political will, adequate resource allocation and supportive legal and administrative frameworks
  • A stable environment of equality, peace and democracy and
  • Access to knowledge, information and skills and a positive value system.

[The Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment 2007 – 2015]

A copy of PAYE is available for download here:


Commonwealth Youth Programme South Pacific Regional Youth Caucus (RYC)
Each Commonwealth region has a body of youth advocates, a Regional Youth Caucus, who take part on the decision-making processes of the CYP. CYP South Pacific currently has 10 young people from Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu on its Regional Youth Caucus.


On International Youth Day 2008, the Pan-Commonwealth Youth Caucus calls on decision makers to allow our peers to fully participate as agents of change to restore our planet. As young people, we have a particular interest in a sustainable future and a sustainable Commonwealth. We are the inheritors of the actions of those who have come before and the innovators who can rectify the consequences.

Climate change is having far-reaching impacts on young people across the Commonwealth. Young people are especially vulnerable to food shortage and the rising costs of food. Young people are disproportionately affected by conflict, including conflict caused by the inability to share natural resources. Young people feel keenly the loss of environments for both livelihoods and recreation. For these reasons, we, as young people, seek to add our voices to the call for every effort to be made by governments and international bodies towards climate stabilization.

With the support of governments and international bodies, young people can be a great force of positive change.

  • We call on Commonwealth countries to follow the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE), the framework for Commonwealth action in youth affairs. We endorse PAYE 11 which encourages the engagement of young people to protect the environment by supporting educational opportunities.
  • We support the recommendation of the Commonwealth Youth Forum 7 that the Commonwealth, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, work towards the establishment of a separate Commonwealth Environmental Body to oversee Commonwealth programmes and initiatives related to sustainable development and climate change.
  • We urge attendees at the 14th Conference of the Parties to Climate Convention to be held in Poznan, Poland in December this year to involve the views and concerns of young people in their deliberations and consideration of good practices.
  • We encourage governments to engage in programmes that address Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7, which relates to environmental sustainability and access to safe drinking water.

Young people can be the solution to many environmental concerns. Sixty per cent of the population of the Commonwealth are aged under 30 years. If all the young people in the Commonwealth and represented by the Pan-Commonwealth Youth Caucus representatives formed a country, we would be the second largest country in the Commonwealth (after India) and the third largest country in the world, ahead of the USA.

On this International Youth Day, we commit ourselves, as a Caucus of youth agenda advocates, to believing in generations beyond our own and to taking action now to ensure the world is cleaner for them.

We call on decision makers to recognize and engage with young people to make positive change.


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