In recognition of the invaluable contribution young people make in their communities, seven Pacific Red Cross Societies are marking International Youth Day today with a range of events and celebrations. 

Globally, around half of the 14 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are young people, and this is also true in the Pacific. Young people are already acting as leaders, first responders, innovators, activists, and changemakers, bringing much-needed skills and knowledge to their work in support of those who are most vulnerable.

Despite this, young people are often the least likely to have a strong voice in times of crisis, especially when it comes to formal decision-making institutions and mechanisms.

International Youth Day is held every year on 12 August (today). This year the day will highlight the ways in which young people are enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as highlight lessons that can be learned on enhancing their engagement and representation in formal institutional politics.

Kathryn Clarkson, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Suva, Fiji said: “Young people are at the heart of our Red Cross Societies, and the Pacific youth networks are an exciting forum to witness the strong voice that our Pacific youth have, tackling challenges such as climate change. It’s awe-inspiring to see the passion and dedication these young people have in building a strong and resilient Pacific Island network, while honouring their culture and heritage. The IFRC is a strong advocate of young people in the Pacific, and we support the youth-hub under the Pacific Resilience Partnership.”

Red Cross National Societies in the Pacific create strong youth networks that empower young people to have a voice, make a difference and connect with their communities. They play a powerful role in reaching young, marginalised or vulnerable groups, promoting health and care and preparing communities to respond to disasters.

Pacific Red Cross Societies, including Kiribati, Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, are collaborating with local organisations and governments to build awareness about the role of youth in global action.

Ms Clarkson said: “The theme of International Youth Day this year is ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’. In the Pacific, this translates to a core focus on climate change and COVID-19. The role of youth in the Red Cross, and in our communities, cannot be underestimated, and it’s great to have a day to celebrate them.  Across the Pacific Island nations, a range of fun and interactive events underlined with powerful messages are taking place to do just that.”