The Ministry of Youth & Sports organized and sponsored Fiji National Youth Conference is part of Governments initiative to bring together outstanding youths around the country to build leadership skills, discuss critical youth issues and challenges facing young people today through dialogue, having an open mind, integration and collaboration.   

Permanent Secretary for Youth and Sports, Maritino Nemani said the approach to the 2019 Fiji National Youth Conference is different.  

“The focus is partnership, this means that we as the lead Ministry recognize the importance of respective local and regional institutions, international agencies and stakeholders and will work collaboratively,”  Nemani said.  

“Youths around Fiji today face many challenges but they are not insurmountable,”  Nemani further said. 

Reiterating his earlier message to youths ahead of the 2019 Fiji National Youth Conference next month Nemani said youths can overcome challenges and by working together can guarantee it. 

“We can overcome the challenges our young people are facing if we work together and redouble our efforts to guarantee that all young people across the nation have the knowledge, skills and opportunities to reach their fullest potential,” said the Permanent Secretary. 

Elaborating more Nemani said that school dropouts, sexual assaults, physical and cyber bullying, thefts, drugs and youths actively roaming our urban centres are some of these challenges. 

“We must, as responsible citizens, engage our youths more and cut across cultural barriers so we can understand more of each other in our diverse societies,” he said “Now is the time to promote dialogue and understanding across cultures and generations, to advance our common interest for all young people in building a prosperous Fiji.” 

“I say now is the time because young people are not just the future; they are very much the present,”  Nemani adds. 

“Investing in young people’s education, health and employment will ensure better prospects for their own lives and for Fiji’s development. This Government is committed to eradicate all forms of challenges but cannot do this alone without everyone playing their part in their communities. On the other hand, if we fail to make these investments now, we will further entrench poverty and ignorance for generations to come,” he further stressed. 

Nemani also acknowledged that young people are not a homogenous group and that there is not one solution that fits all, giving rise to the need to have tailored public policies that address the situation and reality of youths in Fiji. Whether they are rural, urban, peri-urban, indigenous, male and female, living with a disability, or affected by drugs or conflict. 

Nemani further states that it is important to encourage young people to respect each other as their existence in society is based on values, foundation of mutual trust and common interests as citizen of Fiji.

“We should respect others views even if it’s different from yours, but remain focus on the bigger agendas that matters to us as a nation. I urge all young Fijians to think holistically and keep an open mind but speak out for all their sisters and brothers who are vulnerable, and who are not fully empowered to speak for themselves,” he said.

Nemani further state that the concept of ‘dialogue with an open mind’ will be adopted during the Fiji National Youth and Sports Conference in March of this year.

“Young people are aware that true change cannot be imposed from the outside. To be lasting, it must come from within and through partnership and inclusive dialogue and collaboration synergizing our resources, we can agree on actions for change,” Nemani said. 

“With this in mind we have planned the upcoming Fiji National Youth Conference to make it an all-inclusive programme where we can engage in meaningful dialogue and partnership with youths from across the country and take in their ideas on the development and issues confronting our young people and where we can agree on actions for change,” said Nemani. 

“It is very important that we listen to our young people and hopefully at the end of the conference we as a Ministry will have a fair idea of what the young people of this country want or need for their development and work towards an all-inclusive development strategy aligned to the Government’s National Development Plan,” he adds. 

The Fiji National Youth and Sports Conference will take place from the 26th to the 28th of March at the University of the South Pacific Laucala Campus in Suva.

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