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Our diversity is our greatest strength

This Samoan Independence Day, we look ahead to October this year when the eyes of the Commonwealth will turn to Samoa, and representatives from across the Commonwealth family will convene in Apia for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).


The theme for the CHOGM 2024 is One Resilient Common Future: Transforming our Common Wealth. This first Pacific CHOGM will focus on Samoa’s position as a Small Island State and the needs and challenges that face all small island states of the Commonwealth (25 of the Commonwealth’s 56 members are Small Island Developing States).


As we look to the Commonwealth’s future, the voices of youth and local Samoan organisations must be heard and consulted.


James Faiumu, Royal Commonwealth Society Associate Fellow from Samoa who represented the nation as Flagbearer at the 2023 Commonwealth Day Service, shares his thoughts:


“In the forthcoming CHOGM, I've been honoured with the opportunity to serve as a member of the Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) task force. Our team comprises not only esteemed regional representatives but also professionals from across the Commonwealth network, ensuring a wealth of expertise to fulfil our mandate and foster dialogue among young people worldwide. Utilising modern technology and harnessing the power of social media, we aim to connect youth attendees in Samoa with their counterparts by participating virtually and facilitating meaningful exchanges and collaborations.

CYF's ambition is expansive: we aspire to engage with youth from every corner of the Commonwealth during CHOGM 2024 and craft a Youth Declaration that will inform policy and decision-making at the highest levels of government.

As His Majesty wisely stated in his 2024 Commonwealth Day Message, "our diversity is our greatest strength." It's imperative that the outcomes of CHOGM this year, including all policies and declarations, echo this sentiment, embracing the richness of our varied customs and traditions from across the Commonwealth. This inclusivity should not be a one-time occurrence but rather a guiding principle for all future CHOGM gatherings.

This year holds special significance for Samoa as it commemorates its 62nd year of independence and prepares to make history as the first Pacific nation to host CHOGM. I eagerly anticipate extending a warm welcome to the Commonwealth in my homeland, where we'll have the opportunity to showcase our vibrant culture, language, and customs, fostering deeper understanding and appreciation among all attendees.”

 

The Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) 2024 aims to promote the voices of young people, who make up 60% of the Commonwealth’s 2.6 billion people. The CYF will meet in Samoa and raise youth perspectives with decision-makers.



 

About the Author

James Faiumu currently serves as a Finance Business Partner at the Auckland Council in New Zealand. He obtained his MSc in Accounting and Financial Management from the University of Essex through a prestigious Chevening Scholarship awarded by the UK Government. Additionally, James holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Victoria University of Wellington, which he earned via an NZAID scholarship funded by the New Zealand Government. With over 5 years of expertise in Accounting, Auditing, and Project Management, James brings a wealth of experience to his role.

 

Beyond his professional achievements, James has contributed significantly to community and global initiatives. He previously held the position of Curator at the Global Shapers Apia Hub, an esteemed project of the World Economic Forum. Furthermore, James has played pivotal roles in various projects supported by the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and the United Nations Development Programme, focusing on fostering the development of young leaders and empowering youth.

 

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

 

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