Nominations for the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Awards, which recognize exceptional young people from across the Commonwealth, are now open.
The awards, held each year in March, celebrate the outstanding contributions young people (aged 15-29) are making towards tackling global issues, improving lives and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Previous winners have enjoyed international acclaim, cash prizes and invaluable networking opportunities to help boost their projects.
Next year’s awards are even more special as 2023 has been declared ‘Year of the Youth’, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
Announcing the opening of applications on the eve of International Youth Day, Commonwealth Secretary-General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC described the 2023 Awards as a historic milestone. She said:
“Young people are at the heart of the Commonwealth Charter. I never fail to be impressed by the talent, commitment and ingenuity of the Commonwealth’s young people, and I met many inspiring young people during the recent Commonwealth Youth Forum in Rwanda.
“Despite being disproportionately impacted by unprecedented health, environmental, and economic challenges, young people remain committed to finding practical solutions which will improve lives all over the world.
“Youth leaders left the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali with strong commitments from the highest levels. In fact leaders, inspired by our young people who represent more than 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s 2.5 billion population, declared that will be the ‘Year of Youth’.”
“The Youth Awards are an important spoke in the wheel of youth empowerment. The fact that 2023 is the Commonwealth Year of Youth gives the 2023 Youth Awards special significance. To be recognised in the 2023 Youth Awards could change the course of their lives.”
Record numbers of young people applied for the Awards last year and engaged on social media during its promotion.
The Awards ceremony, filmed at Marlborough House in London, attracted world-class acts including Nigerian Afropop singer Yemi Alade, and media coverage from mainstream outlets across the Commonwealth. It was broadcast on TV and online by major broadcasters in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.
The launch of the 2023 Awards comes on the heels of the Commonwealth Youth Forum and Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, during which leaders committed to a range of strategies, initiatives, and activities to address the ongoing impact of new and pre-existing youth-related challenges such as Covid-19, conflict, climate change, unemployment and access to education.
One of the key outcomes of the meeting was the declaration by Commonwealth leaders that 2023 will be named ‘Year of the Youth’, which will kick-off in January 2023 with a Youth Ministerial Meeting in Pakistan and include a range of other activities aimed at youth empowerment and youth development.
Young people from the 56 Commonwealth countries can enter five regional categories: Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Canada, and the Pacific.
An independent pan-Commonwealth jury will judge the nominations based on impact, sustainability and innovation.
The jury will shortlist finalists, who will each receive a trophy, a certificate and £1,000 in cash, and from them, regional award winners will be chosen. These will receive an additional £2,000.
One of the regional award recipients will be accorded further recognition as Commonwealth Young Person of the Year and a total cash prize of £5,000.
For the second year running the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) has joined the Commonwealth Secretariat a partner to offer to one winner two years of flexible funding, worth of £20,000 a year, as well as coaching opportunities and organisational development support.
Chris Kelly, Chief Executive of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, said:
“The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust is delighted to partner with The Commonwealth Secretariat for this year’s Commonwealth Youth Awards.
“QCT exists to support young Commonwealth leaders who are transforming their communities and provides flexible funding, practical tools and support, and a vibrant network.
“We are delighted to again be sponsoring a special CYA Social Enterprise award in 2023, the Commonwealth Year of the Youth.”
The finalists and regional winners will be announced during Commonwealth Week in March 2023.
To submit an entry, an applicant must be:
- a Commonwealth citizen;
- between the age of 15 to 29 years; and
- have been engaged in development work for at least 12 months as a professional or volunteer.
Nominees must show a strong track record of implementing impactful development work which contributes to at least one of the 17 SDGs.
To be eligible for the additional QCT prize, applicants must be aged 18 to 29 years old, and the founder or co-founder of a social enterprise.
Nominations must be submitted and received by 23:59 BST on 17 October 2022.
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