About 300 young people from around the region have gathered this week in Suva, Fiji, for the 2nd Pacific Youth Festival, which runs from 11–18 July 2009.
The festival was launched on Saturday morning when youth delegates from 14 participating Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), wearing colourful Pacific prints, marched through the streets of Suva to an opening ceremony held at Albert Park, on the edge of the city centre.
The president of Fiji, Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda, officially opened the festival during a ceremony that included a traditional Fijian welcome and cultural performances from many different Pacific delegations.
President of the Fiji Youth Festival Alumni 2006, Jacob Itautoka, presented the resolutions from the 1st Pacific Youth Festival that was held in Tahiti, French Polynesia, in 2006.
The aspirations, issues and concerns raised by young people in 2006 are captured in the Pacific Youth Strategy 2010.
Mr Itautoka said young people are taking the lead in youth development by involving themselves in processes aimed at finding solutions to their problems.
The festival aims to bring young people in the region together to discuss, share and highlight youth concerns and youth programmes that address these concerns.
A youth delegate from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Mavis Tito, says she hopes to find out if young people from all Pacific nations are facing the same challenges as in her country.
‘I expect to learn and participate in the programme of good governance and finding youth identity,’ Miss Tito says. ‘All nations have their own issues but I am hoping to find out if the challenges faced by youths [in other countries] are the same as in my country and see if there is a good solution to take back [home]’.
Another PNG youth delegate, Nathan Hukula believes the festival will help highlight the role that globalisation is playing in the lives of Pacific young people.
‘Globalisation is affecting how the youth in our communities are behaving. Young people are challenged to strike a balance between culture and modernisation. [The festival] gives us a chance to discuss and strengthen ideas and put our cultural differences aside’, Mr Hukula says.
A representative of the Banaban Group from Kiribati, Eriuta Hiwi, agrees that the festival shows the unity of Pacific nations and helps to boost the morale of young people.
‘It gives youth the chance to adopt good values as they are often blamed for many problems,’ Mr Hiwi says. ‘This festival really helps to change the mindsets of youth in the Pacific region’.
The theme of the 2nd Pacific Youth Festival is “Actioning the youth agenda”. Discussions will focus on promoting healthy living, Pacific identity, climate change adaptation, and governance, peace and security.
PICTs participating in the festival are: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna. Student delegations from French Polynesia and New Caledonia have also travelled to the festival.
The Pacific Youth Festival is a week-long event held every three years. The first festival attracted 1,000 participants from 24 PICTs as well as Australia and New Zealand. It focused on nine themes, including education and training, social and professional integration, sustainable development, cultural diversity, health, equality, peace promotion, active citizenship and good governance.
The main events at the festival include presentations, panel discussions and workshops on various youth issues. The festival also facilitates inter-regional communication and network building opportunities. Side events include cultural performances and sports.
Photo caption: Felise Colati and his granddaughter Makaela (age 4) watch the opening ceremony of the Pacific Youth Festival at Albert Park in Suva.
For more information please contact Rose Maebiru, SPC Human Development Adviser (Youth) email:
or Tione Chinula, Human Development Programme Advocacy and Communications Officer by email: