Young Pacific Leaders Conference 2018, to Improve the Quality of Life in the Pacific Islands

Composite image courtesy of YPL Conference and East-West Center

The Young Pacific Leaders Conference 2018 took place in Honolulu from 16 to 18 January. More than thirty young leaders from eighteen Pacific island countries participated after being chosen from pool of more than seven hundred applicants. This conference was organized by the East-West Center (EWC) in partnership with the U.S. Department of State.

Launched in 2012 at the Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, the Young Pacific Leaders Conference aims to provide emerging young Pacific leaders with new skills and knowledge to advance the region’s economic vibrancy and civic engagement, covering capacity building to connect positive perspectives for the communities in the region.

The conference was initiated within the framework of the Young Pacific Leaders program and the EWC’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP).1. This year’s program, which was based on the Future Leaders of the Pacific program that took place from 2013 to 2016, included discussions about global action for sustainability, social entrepreneurship, specific development needs of small island states, and current trends requiring collective regional action.

Beginning with a showcase of Hula Kahiko, a traditional Hawaiian dance performance, the three-day conference included various programs and activities as well as lectures on leadership, resource management in Oceania, culturally grounded indigenous education, and public-private resource management, among others. Also included with the programs were visits to the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Hawaiian Cultural Center, the Imiloa Astronomy Center, the Hilo Farmer’s Market, Kamehameha schools, the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters to for greater learning opportunities and hands-on practice.

The participants are eligible to compete for small grants to fund public service projects in their home countries and in the region. Up to twelve teams will receive the grants from Cultural Vistas, an American NGO, for projects to be implemented throughout 2018.

According to the EWC, fostering long-term people-to-people links with a diverse group of Pacific Islanders will create a vibrant network to address regional challenges. More information on the conference is available on the EWC’s website.

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1. PIDP, an essential part of the center since its founding in 1960, works on leadership programs to help develop regional and international leaders who can “navigate change”—a necessary component of effective contemporary leadership that can enhance the quality of life in the Pacific Islands.