Samoa’s First Parliamentary Youth Programme launched

06 Aug 2013

imageParticipants at the Parliamentary Youth Programme, an initiative of the Samoa Parliamentary Support Programme (SPSP). Photo credit: Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

One of the initiatives of the Samoa Parliamentary Support Project (SPSP) developed and coordinated by the governments of Australia and Samoa and with support from UNDP and the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships programme was launched on Tuesday 6th August.

The launch saw Samoa’s First Parliamentary Youth Programme with the participation of select youth representatives under the age of 29 present during Parliament’s August session.

The initiative of the SPSP with its collective theme of “Know your Parliament” was officially started with an Open Week in June whereby its doors were open to the general public to actively participate whilst Parliament was in its budgetary session.

UNDP on the request of the Speaker of the House, La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao and the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly in 2011, commissioned a Legislative Needs Assessment to review the way the Parliament worked and to see what support was needed to help it work more effectively.  

The assessment became clear that one of the key priorities for Parliament was to promote and strengthen its engagement with the general public, women and youth.

In response to that assessment, UNDP along with AusAID and the Parliament of Samoa is currently coordinating the SPSP which started in 2012 and will run to 2015.

“Youth are the future of Samoa and represent a large proportion of the population,”  Mr Anthony Wood, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative stated in his keynote address.

“Youth in all countries play a key role in questioning and discussing key issues facing their country. Hence the need to learn about democratic governance, the functioning of Parliaments and about key issues that are discussed in Parliaments, such as monitoring progress towards the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), and opportunities to show case Samoa at the SIDS Conference to be held in Apia in September 2014 and influencing the new Goals of the Post 2015 Development Agenda, to ensure they address Pacific region and Samoa’s own development needs and priorities,” Mr Wood added.

The selected youth members were actively engaged in a mock session of Parliament of which they put their debate skills to test but following parliamentary proceedings.  

“ I want to thank you, the youth of Samoa, for being here this week and for taking part in this historic event,” Mr Wood concluded in his address.

The programme ran for two days from 6th to 7th August.