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A manifesto for Commonwealth youth

The Commonwealth

It's not just government reperesentatives getting together at this month's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London – young people from across the Commonwealth will be presenting their own view of the future, says Viral Desai

Between April 16 and 20, London will play host to the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The summit will have a strong youth focus; rightly, as 60 per cent of people in the Commonwealth are under 30, so the futures of the 53 nations are in the hands of more than a billion young people.

Indeed, the summit will feature the Commonwealth Youth Forum which “provides an opportunity for the young people of the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks, debate the challenges facing its young people, and agree youth-led initiatives to influence decision-makers and ensure young people have a voice in its future”.

This year’s Youth Forum theme is ‘Powering our common future’ – a reflection of the summit’s main theme of ‘Towards a common future’. Young planners and architects are among the groups who are answering the call to feed into the theme.

"Our manifesto aims to ensure that the views of young planners and architects are solidfied in the Commonwealth they will help to create.

For example, the Commonwealth Association of Planners Young Planners and the Commonwealth Association of Architects Young Architects, with support from the RTPI and RIBA, have come together to illustrate how young planners and architects can influence urbanism and sustainability. We’ll be delivering a manifesto (PDF) to the Youth Forum, which provides a prescription for how young people can help deliver Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Young planners and architects from Australia, the Caribbean, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa and the UK have given us their views. Some talked about the importance of sharing practice, knowledge, experiences and ideas outside their own profession and with other nations to shape a more sustainable society across the Commonwealth.

Some expressed the need to bridge the gap between ‘Young’ and ‘Experts’, and to listen to fresh ideas, with better links to schools and universities.

Some felt young people should be given the space to contribute, advocate for ‘one world planning’ and reject the status quo, while capitalising on the diversity of Commonwealth Nations.

Our manifesto aims to ensure that the views of young planners and architects are solidified in the Commonwealth they will help to create. It aims to show heads of government the importance of sharing practice across professions and between professionals, and the importance of having a vision for how young people can influence their society within a holistic approach to sustainable development.

Viral Desai MRTPI is the young planners coordinator for the Commonwealth Association of Planners, and a senior planning consultant with Atkins

Read the Youth Manifesto – Powering Our Common Future: Urbanism in the Commonwealth (PDF)



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