Speech at the Youth Open Week, Parliamentary Session - Anthony Wood, Deputy Resident Representative

06 Aug 2013

Deputy Speaker Tofa Agafili Patisela
Representative of the Australian High Commission and AusAID
Clerk of  the Legislative Assembly    
The Youth and future of Samoa
Staff from Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Samoa
Friends

Good Morning.

It is a privilege and gives great pleasure, on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Coordinator in Samoa, Mrs Nileema Noble, to address you this morning.

I am Anthony Wood, the new UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, and want to start my brief speech by giving a little of the background of why we are here today.

In 2011, UNDP on a request by the Speaker and the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly commissioned a Legislative Needs Assessment to review the way the Parliament worked and to see what support was needed for UNDP to help the Parliament work more effectively.  

During this assessment it became clear that one of the key priorities for parliament was to promote and strengthen its engagement with the general public, women and youth, and involve the people with the work of parliament. More people in Samoa need to know what parliament is; what is the role of an MP; and what should people expect from their elected leaders.

In response to this need, UNDP along with AusAID and the Parliament of Samoa is coordinating and resourcing the Samoa Parliamentary Support Project that started in 2012 and runs until 2015. The project is supporting the reason that we are all here today – the Youth Parliament.  

Youth are the future of Samoa and represent a large proportion of the population. 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.

Across many countries throughout the world, UNDP is promoting good governance and effective decisions making processes.  There is no doubt that during the sessions this week you will hear, see and learn that Parliament is a key body in delivering good governance in any country.  Parliament approves the laws of the country.  Parliament provides oversight of the work that Government is doing.  Parliament approves the national budget – the way in which all your money is spent.  Parliament is the body that represents all people from all parts of the country.  Parliamentarians are not only the voice of their constituency but also the voice of the whole country.

I noted from the program that this week you will learn many things about the way in which the Parliament works.  There will be presentations on the procedures and committees processes, the opportunity to experience parliamentary debates in the chamber, and in particular the opportunity to be addressed by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.  You will be experiencing the work that Parliamentarians undertake and you are indeed privileged that you will have this opportunity through the Youth Parliament to experience the day to day work of our MPs.

It is you, the youth of Samoa, who are the leaders of tomorrow, and the future of this country. Politics is for all the citizens of Samoa and this Parliament is the Parliament of all the citizens of Samoa.  This week, you will be playing an important role in the democracy of this country through engaging in discussions and debating important issues.  I hope that the experience you gain this week will broaden your horizons and that when I visit Parliament in ten or fifteen years I will see many of your faces when you are fully fledged MPs!  

UNDP is delighted to be supporting today’s important event and want to put on record our thanks to the staff of the Office of the Clerk here in Parliament who have made this important event possible.     

Most importantly, I want to thank you, the youth of Samoa, for being here this week and for taking part in this historic event.

Faafetai ma ia Soifua