56 member countries of the Commonwealth from around the world met to discuss more proposals and initiatives for the benefit of young people on the 10th anniversary of the Youth Commonwealth Ministers Meeting with the theme Aiming Higher: Delivering More for Young People in the Commonwealth. Among these countries, Malta as an active member of the Commonwealth, was also represented by a delegation led by the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for youths Keith Azzopardi Tanti.
The opening ceremony which took place on Monday 12 September 2023 saw the Secretary General of the Commonwealth the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC give her welcome to the ministers and delegates present, while delivering a strong message for more collaboration with young people. She said that politicians and other important figures in the leadership of the countries should give a boost and greater encouragement to young people to overcome the challenges that the world is facing nowadays, including the economic, environmental, and security ones.
“Young people are the pioneers of change and the leaders of today and tomorrow”, continued Scotland KC. She closed by expressing gratitude to those countries of the Commonwealth, which, despite the colonial era is over, are still united for common goals, including working for more opportunities for young people.
The Parliamentary Secretary responsible for youths in Malta Keith Azzopardi Tanti was invited to lead a discussion between various representatives of member countries with the theme: Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Participation of Young MPs in the Legislative Processes. He opened the discussion by explaining how the young population is growing globally, currently around 1.8 billion in total. However, the participation of young people in politics is very low, with only 2.2% falling under the category of under 30 years.
“Malta, like several other countries, shares the same problem of young representation in its political system. We have been working for several years to improve this rate and encourage more young people to enter politics and be active citizens, particularly in the decisions taken for the country’s development,” said Azzopardi Tanti.
The Parliamentary Secretary explained several measures that Malta has taken in order to be proactive and encourage more young people to participate, including lowering the voting age to 16 from the previous 18 years of age. Besides this, he also said that they are in the process of choosing young people to be members of a consultative forum for legislative and political decisions, led by the Prime Minister himself. In this way young people themselves will be part of the solution to the challenges the world is currently facing. Such measures show more confidence in young people and encourage them to speak up, concluded Azzopardi Tanti.
The Youth Ministers Meeting saw discussions about the current challenges, including the economy, climate change, the environment, as well as the opportunities that are being presented including the digital future through Artificial Intelligence, with the aim of young people being the ones who lead these sectors in new horizons for the benefit not only on national level, but globally.