This week, Cumberland Lodge convenes ‘Commonwealth Futures: Youth Perspectives’, a youth symposium involving 66 participants from across the Commonwealth, in partnership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), the British Council, and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Young people from more than 25 Commonwealth countries are meeting in Windsor Great Park from 1-3 December, to discuss youth-focused priorities for the future of the Commonwealth and ideas for promoting progress towards more peaceful, open and inclusive societies. International students from 32 UK universities are represented amongst the delegates.

Special guests attending, alongside representatives from a raft of Commonwealth institutions, include:

  • Her Excellency Yamina Karitanyi, UK High Commissioner for the Republic of Rwanda
  • Dr Arjoon Suddhoo, Deputy Secretary-General, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Christine Ohuruogu MBE, retired Olympic athlete / Law graduate, Queen Mary University of London

'Give voice to young people'

Edmund Newell, Chief Executive of Cumberland Lodge, said: ‘Cumberland Lodge has been supporting students and young people from the Commonwealth for more than 70 years, nurturing and inspiring them to work towards positive change in the world.

‘We are convening this symposium to give voice to young people from across the Commonwealth through a policy-focused forum that addresses key issues affecting their future. It will also give Commonwealth students at UK universities the chance to contribute to international policy conversations.

‘We look forward to seeing how the outcomes of these discussions go on to influence policy around ICT innovation and the rule of law in the Commonwealth.’

Outcomes from the symposium will directly contribute to both the 2020 Commonwealth Youth Forum, and the British Council’s London ‘Going Global 2020’ conference in June 2020.

Preparing for the 2020 Commonwealth Youth Forum

On day one of the Cumberland Lodge symposium, three representatives from the Commonwealth’s Youth-led Taskforce will present their draft policy document for the 2020 Commonwealth Youth Forum, taking place in Rwanda next June, just before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2020).

This will form the basis for discussions and group work on pressing issues affecting young people in the Commonwealth today, from an ICT innovation and rule of law perspective in particular.

Layne Robinson, The Commonwealth’s Head of Social Policy Development, said: ‘This forum gives our young people from diverse backgrounds a platform to discuss the key issues affecting them, from climate change and inequality to unemployment and poverty, and to contribute to the policy statement of the 2020 Commonwealth Youth Forum. Their feedback will be part of a wider consultation with youth leaders about the unique needs of young people in their countries.’

Commonwealth Futures

‘Commonwealth Futures: Youth Perspectives’ is also the first event in the Commonwealth Futures programme run by the ACU and the British Council - a series of youth workshops taking place in India, South Africa and the UK.

Each workshop will focus on the role of student leaders in creating cohesive societies, and address the question of ‘What future do young people want for our Commonwealth?’

The young people attending the Cumberland Lodge symposium have either been appointed by the Commonwealth Secretariat or are taking part in the Commonwealth Futures programme, for which they have been selected through a competitive application process and demonstrated strong leadership potential.

Dr Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU, said: ‘With two-thirds of the 2.4 billion people living in the Commonwealth under the age of 30, the voices of young people have never been more important. Through the Commonwealth Futures series, we will be giving young leaders a platform to directly influence policymakers and help shape the future of our global community.’