Monday 26 March 2018
The 26th of February marked the beginning of high-level engagements at the Commonwealth Parliamentarians’ Forum. It was held in what some may call ‘the birthplace of democracy’, Westminster. I was privileged to engage 65 parliamentarians from 28 Commonwealth countries, while representing Fiji as a youth delegate. The powerful Forum engaged thought-provoking and forward-looking discussions on sustainability, fairness, security, and prosperity. It was an honour to network and engage with high level parliamentarians on issues of concern for young people in Fiji, including issues that continue to dominate the youth demographic in the Pacific.
In setting the scene to engage the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2018), the topics of sustainability, fairness, security, and prosperity were the foundation of discussions. All four themes were reflected through presentations, and experts spoke accurately on various matters concerning the Commonwealth in the 21st century. These included upholding the undertaking to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Discussions saw the general acceptance that the powerful comparative advantage of the Commonwealth can be captured through partnerships and increased trust, despite diverse views and circumstances. It was evident that the broader discussions around financing for development, promoting human rights, and reducing effects of climate change built commonality among countries. However, the immediate issues in each country are at various stages, and the actions of MPs in achieving the SDGs are dependent on the political will and resource structures in existence.
My experience was very positive while engaging the delegates and their expert presentations. This has definitely added value to my views for action on sustainability, fairness, security, and prosperity in the continuously changing context of globalisation. I have always resonated with sustainability as the interconnecting factor to ensure any implementing programme, monetary resource, evaluation programme, and/or political buy-in are actioned with long-term visions rather than band-aid solutions. While recognising all solutions require various actors’ input, it is of primary concern that all government structures are the foundation for improving results of development. Therefore this includes consolidating the role of Governments to recognise collaboration and investment that actors in civil society organisations (including youth), religious leaders, academic institutions, private sector, and concerned citizens can input to national sustainable solutions.
Furthermore, this Forum has allowed me access to high level politicians, their challenges, and their actions towards development. I thank the Commonwealth Parliamentarian Association UK for this opportunity and look forward to sharing my knowledge. I hope more young people in the Pacific access the Commonwealth Charter, including opportunities for actions through youth networks, such as the Commonwealth Climate Change Network. I close with the most memorable quote from one of the panellists featured in the session ‘Building cultures of trust and confidence across Commonwealth political systems’, Ipsos MORI CEO Ben Page: “there has never been one golden age”. While I understand there are flaws in the process of achieving development, I believe this can be challenged. A golden age can be created so that the next generation of leaders have the precedence to create positive change.
-Sina Mario, Fiji
In my opinion, the four themes underlying the Forum are interrelated. That is, the achievement of one depends on the other. For instance, if there is fairness, security will be assured, which in turn will lead to prosperity. However, that prosperity must be sustainable in order for future generations to benefit.
The theme that best resonates with me is prosperity. This is due to the undisputed fact that prosperity necessitates flexibility and innovation. As the late Prof. Calestous Juma said, “Innovate or perish”.
The new learning I took from the Forum includes the following:
The actions to be taken to follow up on the Forum should include the formation of an independent body for oversight among the delegates of which I would be glad to take part.
I will apply my experiences at the Forum in my role as a member of the Tanzania International Model United Nations organising committee. I will have a chance to speak to more than 200 participants from secondary schools, universities, and professionals who will also carry on the message to their respective clubs in schools, chapters in universities, and work places. This will go hand in hand with highlighting various opportunities available in the Commonwealth, ‘Towards a Common Future’.
-Victor Mutasi, Tanzania