Elisha Azeemah Bano is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society from Fiji. She was presented with a Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2015 for using the arts to make young people more aware of issues that affect their communities, through an organisation she created called ACT IT. Elisha describes how youth are part of the solution whether this be on climate action, peace-building or coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The youth age bracket is an exciting, energetic, thrilling, challenging and confusing one. I have (personally) noticed that many youths in various communities are putting in the effort to be part of the solution and they are doing some great work across the board.

The words of Franklin D. Roosevelt fit aptly:

‘we cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future’.

At the last Equator Awards in New York, I had the pleasure of joining fellow youths from around the world in putting forward a joint Youth statement which placed great importance on Climate Action. Mother Nature to be placed at the forefront of climate discussions because we do not have time to debate any longer, it is time for action, hence CLIMATE ACTION. Rather than sharing a speech we prepared a joint spoken words piece which was well received by the audience and many attendees came to have further discussion with us in this regard.

Since 2017 Act It Network has been hosting its annual Youth Fest event. The event begins on August 6 with a Peace Day event commemorating the Hiroshima bombing and concludes on 12 August with celebration on International Youth Day. In between we host a range of activities including: Community outreach, workshops, spoken words, panel discussions and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) awareness. We have found (over the years) that more young people have shown interest in volunteer work and community development as well as using creative spaces to address social issues.

An issue that we are focusing on (heavily) is more awareness on the SDGs as we have found many young people still lack the knowledge on the various goals and their targets. To address this issue Act It Network is now branching out in the Pacific regional countries to engage with youth leaders and work on various activities that highlight the SDG’s and its targets.

In the month of August (2020) we are sharing video messages from Pacific youths on what peace means to them and how they have been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, we are working together to ensure we are part of the solution for this global pandemic.

Youths have proved to be resilient in various ways and they are using their innovations, networks and collaborative actions towards achieving a better tomorrow for us and for the future generations. We continue to ‘get creative, inspire innovation and to lead a revolution’.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Royal Commonwealth Society.