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Amplifying youth voices across the Commonwealth

Copyrights: Commonwealth Secretariat

Amplifying youth voices across the Commonwealth

Transforming the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace working group into a truly representative Network.

The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) place special emphasis on supporting young people to co-create and drive youth-led initiatives. In fact, 42% of the world’s population is currently under the age of 24, the largest number in history. Many of these youth were either unborn, or in the early stages of infancy when the SDGs were agreed upon and implementation initiated. So why should they care? The answer is simple – as adults, this generation will inherit the post SDG world. Further to this, many will go on to be the mechanics, architects and input producers of the next iteration of the goals; the world's hope in keeping score and advancing current achievements.

Recognising therefore the strong contribution that youth can make to progressing many of the SDGs, the Commonwealth Secretariat supports nine distinct networks. The Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace working group being one of them, was established in 2013 under guidance from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Division (Sport for Development and Peace). The working group consisted of youth working across Sport for Development and Peace programme design, implementation, research and policy formulation. Members selected were at the forefront of grassroots sport and peace issues facing the youth of the Commonwealth within their region, and became advocates for those issues in international senior-level governmental and inter-governmental global meetings. Most notably, the group is given a seat at the Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport (CABOS) annual meeting and biennial Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting (CHOGM).

In 2018, the group transitioned from a 10-member ‘working group’ containing a chairperson and regional representatives, towards a ‘network’ to more effectively promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status in Commonwealth member countries. This meant broadening the steering committee to include champions from the fields of communications, advocacy, policy and research;  the on-going work of ‘regional representatives’ and the design of strong strategic and communication plans outlining how the network aims to take advantage of its influential positioning within CABOS, CHOGM and broader global development priorities led by the SDGs.

These new steps forward were in direct response to the learnings and experiences of the group operating in this space across the six-year life span of the network. Learnings that included the development of strategies for effectively governing a youth-led global network that has grown drastically in membership, developing approaches to collecting both quality and representative data from the 1.4 billion youth in the Commonwealth with the need for disaggregating issues by geographical region, producing strong position statements on relevant contemporary sport and peace issues and processes for effectively ‘amplifying’ youth voices surrounding those issues within global debates and the development of an effective advocacy tool kit.

Even with strong on-going support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, the expanded but streamlined Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Network is a co-created youth-led initiative leading the voice of the Commonwealth youth in current and emerging debates on sports integrity, sport and human rights, sport and the SDGs as well as the dominant, and largely unprecedented rise of e-sports

The Network is now poised and ready to continue making its mark in advocating and representing the broad-ranging issues facing the youth of the Commonwealth.

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Friday, February 8, 2019 - 08:06

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