Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Harry tells youth of the Commonwealth to change the world in 22 years

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex met youth leaders from the family of nations.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House (Yui Mok/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House (Yui Mok/PA)

The Duke of Sussex has urged young people to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the planet including health care, governance and climate change in a speech to 150 youth leaders from across the Commonwealth.

Speaking at the end of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s week-long Youth Leadership workshop, Harry cited the way smartphone technology has revolutionised health care and the way plastic pollution has shot to the top of the global agenda in the past year as examples of how young people can be a powerful force for change.

He was appointed Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by the Queen in April this year, and on Thursday he and the duchess met with students, scientists, lawyers and activists under the age of 30 chosen from the 53 Commonwealth nations to bring their ideas to the world stage.

Harry and Meghan met youngsters from across the Commonwealth (Yui Mok/PA)

Over the course of the week, workshop attendees divided in to task forces looking at issues such as climate change, health, gender equality and governance to generate ideas about the type of Commonwealth they want to see by 2040.

The Duchess of Sussex arrives at the event (Yui Mok/PA)

At a garden party at Marlborough House on Pall Mall hosted by Secretary General of the Commonwealth Patricia Scotland QC, the duke said that, with the power of technology, as much could be achieved in the next 22 years as was in the previous 200.

He said: “The time it takes to make great advancements in science, medicine and technology, and even human understanding, is rapidly shrinking.

“The pace of technology and innovation will accelerate change to make the next 22 years feel like 200 years of progress.

“In the past few years alone, we have seen smartphone technology used to detect eye disease for people living in remote parts of the world, artificial intelligence is being applied to reduce our energy use, and virtual reality is taking students from the classroom to experience life on mountain tops and ocean floors.”

He added: “Social change is also accelerating, and awareness is quickly turning in to action, just in the last year, the world’s understanding of the damage being done by single-use plastic has grown rapidly and many governments and communities are taking big steps to tackle this very challenging problem.

“Amongst all of you are innovators, entrepreneurs and educators ready to tackle climate change, social injustice and inequality,” he said.

Qasim Farasat, 26, of Pakistan, was part of a focus group looking at the future of leadership within the Commonwealth and how to both give the 1.4 billion young people within the Commonwealth not just a voice, but also how to make sure their voices are listened to and acted upon.

He told the Press Association: “The duke said we were the leaders of today, he told us we shouldn’t wait for permission to take a seat at the table.”

The duchess met with a group developing policies to tackle climate change and pollution.

Karuna Rana, from Mauritius, said they wanted to see a global tax slapped on all single-use plastics as well as local policies aimed at helping manufacturers and restaurants switch to alternatives.

She said Meghan, who chose charity Surfers Against Sewage as one of those to receive donations from the public to celebrate her and Harry’s marriage, had been very interested in their anti-plastic strategies, as well as the way climate change can adversely affect women, for example those inhaling toxic coal and wood fumes while cooking.

Jacob Thomas, 28, from Australia, was part of a group looking at gender and equality.

“We look at sexual health and reproductive rights, gender and governance, LGBTQ issues, youth education and employment and equality,” he said.

He said their focus was making sure that equality was “not just pushed to the side” but was taken in to consideration when tackling every single issue facing young people today.

“The duchess has a long and strong history in advocating gender equality and she made it clear that within her new role within the royal family she wants to see that continue,” he said.

The event was Harry’s first engagement as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador and he and Meghan are due to take a tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga later this year.

He told guests: “We can’t wait to see you in action in your home countries and learn about what you’re doing to better the Commonwealth, and the world, in 2040 and beyond.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph