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Make Decisions With The Next Generations In Mind, Urges Prime Minister Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted the APEC Voices of the Future 2021 youth declaration in her role as APEC 2021 Chair on Wednesday. She has acknowledged the work of young people around the region to join together and produce a declaration that projects a vision of hope for our future.

“You have reminded me, reminded us all, that we must always look forward, and make decisions with the next generation in mind,” Prime Minister Ardern said. “As we stand in the face of monumental challenges, young people must be part of the debate about our future.”

Remembering her first APEC experience, not as prime minister but as an 18-year-old youth delegate to an APEC science event in Korea, Prime Minister Ardern said: “I saw firsthand then how vital it is for young people to have a voice on global issues. Today’s declaration to APEC leaders clearly contains many creative and insightful ideas for leaders to consider in order to respond to the concerns of nearly one billion young people around the APEC region.”

The Voices of the Future youth event takes place annually during APEC Economic Leaders’ Week and this year, for the first time, all 21 APEC member economies were represented, with the online event generating the largest turnout in the event’s 23-year history.

The delegates, aged 18 to 24, heard from a wide range of speakers on the event’s four key themes—"International Co-operation to Combat COVID-19, The Digital Future, A Greener Future,” and “A Future for All”—before presenting their vision in a formal declaration.

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“These themes of the declaration align very closely to the overall themes of APEC 2021 and demonstrate clearly that the issues that worry the current generation will also impact greatly on generations to come,” Prime Minister Ardern said.

“Today’s Voices of the Future Declaration shows how much these issues matter to young people, and why they must be involved to help ensure the best outcomes now and for the future.”

Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, the APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director, highlighted the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the youth.

“One of the more concerning consequences of the extended pandemic is its effects on the youth,” Dr Sta Maria said. “Their education and early careers are facing wholesale disruption because of lockdowns.”

“It’s our duty to go the extra mile for them,” she said. “Close the digital divide, nurture their ability to innovate—everything to ensure they are given the means to reach their full and exciting potential.”

To read the 2021 Voices of the Future Declaration, visit this link.

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