In early May young people from TI chapters joined others from across the Pacific at a two-day conference in Auckland, hosted by the South Pacific Students Association in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.
The discussion at the conference spotlighted two key topics seen as priorities by Pacific youth: response to climate change and promoting gender equality. It brought together leaders, policy makers, governance experts, practitioners and youths from governments, public sector, research institutions and civil society.
Many high level Pacific leaders attended including Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister Kofe from Tuvalu, Ambassador Louisa Wall, Henry Puna, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, USP Vice-Chancellor & President, Prof. Pal Ahluwalia and other diplomats and VIPs. In fact the prioritisation of high-level speakers crowded out young people’s time to talk and plan together.
It was particularly disappointing for a conference organised in Aotearoa that Māori youth and Māori tikanga were largely ignored. Auckland manawhenua were not consulted or involved, and only one Māori student organisation was represented, despite many Māori youth involved in governance, gender issues and climate change. Aboriginal youth were also absent. This was not caused by ill-will, but it does suggest “development aid blinkerism”.
Some change is needed. All indigenous peoples across the Pacific should be enabled to be involved in cross Pacific discussions and programmes that impact upon their countries and their communities.
Grace Konrote and Peni Qalo, supported by Youths for Integrity Fiji led an excellent talanoa session at the conference, focussing on what young people need to support their involvement in anti-corruption and governance.
The conference experience has inspired the TI Pacific youth to hold further regional meetings to share knowledge and experiences and engage on common priorities regionally.
TINZ Board Director Adam Hunt meets with Pacific Youth
TI Youth Leaders were also inspired by a meeting with Adam Hunt (Board Director of TINZ), a side event to the Conference. Adam is an anti-money laundering expert and has decades of anti corruption experience.
Adam spoke about anti-corruption strategies for young Pacific youth leaders. He discussed money laundering and financial crimes that often go undetected because of complexities in uncovering transactions and ownership. The youths received valuable insights to inform their anti-corruption advocacy.