Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the Host Country Seminar: 30 Under 30: The Faces of Fiji’s Future at the 52nd ADB Annual Meeting on 2 May 2019 in Fiji

Thank you for your warm introduction.

I am very glad to participate in this Host Country event on the vital role of youth in building the present and shaping the future of Fiji and the Pacific region.

I am pleased to see such a diverse group of youth at our Annual Meeting representing such groups as the Special Olympics, AIESEC, local Fijian youth organizations, and of course our “30 under 30” representatives.

I would like to recognize the young Fijian leaders who have been selected for today’s “30 under 30” event. These young leaders are truly a positive force for change in Asia and the Pacific.

We have talented entrepreneurs, hi-tech innovators, teachers and changemakers, environmentalists and climate champions, athletes and artists, to name a few in the room today.

I commend their commitment to building a more inclusive and sustainable region. Let me congratulate the Fijian Government for leading this important “30 under 30” initiative.

ADB has also put a great importance on the role of youth.

First, in 2013, ADB established the “Youth for Asia” initiative to promote young people’s involvement in ADB operations both in design and implementation to reflect the views of young people.  For example, here in Fiji, ADB supported the services of a young urban planner  in city planning such as green spaces, cyber-connectivity and good transport facilities, through our Future Cities Project, working in Lami Town, just North West of the capital Suva.    

Second, in 2017, ADB supported the establishment of the first Pacific office of the world’s largest youth-led organization, AIESEC, here in Fiji in the University of South Pacific. Since then, AIESEC in Fiji has mobilized and raised the capacity of over 350 Fijian and Pacific youth to contribute to development projects such as eco-tourism, waste management, and mangrove forest rehabilitation.

Third, ADB has engaged with the region’s youth through the regional Pacific Youth Council on important issues for young people including employment and education.

Fourth, ADB is supporting strengthening young peoples’ access to quality education and skills development. For instance, ADB’s support to develop new ICT-enhanced campuses at the University of the South Pacific in Kiribati and Solomon Islands will provide nearly 6,000 students with improved access to higher education. We have promoted technical skills development for more than 3,000 young people in Timor-Leste and in Papua New Guinea soon. We have also promoted ICT for better education in all secondary schools in Samoa and will soon begin support for an open, flexible, and distance learning resource repository for the Pacific region. 

Today, over 2 billion people under the age of 30 live in Asia and the Pacific. And, in Fiji, young people represent more than half of the population.

ADB is a strong believer in the youth. We recognize that today’s youth are innovative, driven, and agile changemakers who can bring significant value to ADB’s work across the region. Under ADB’s new Strategy 2030, our engagement with youth has evolved from listening to their voices and dreams, to building their capacity and working with them on strengthening our operations.

Once again, I would like to extend my thanks to our gracious host, the Fijian Government, for continuing your great work to empower the youth of Fiji.

And to our “30 under 30” youth representatives, ADB is proud to share the stage with you and we look forward to working with you on building the future of Fiji and the region.

Thank you.