Empowering the Future: Macuata hosts ground breaking Youth Forum to champion Conservation and Leadership

Posted on 05 June 2024
Macuata Youth Forum representatives with Fiji's Minister for Youth and Sports Mr Jese Saukuru.
© Tui Marseu


Macuata, Fiji – [June 05,2024] – After 8 years, the province of Macuata hosted a Youth Forum aimed at empowering young leaders to drive conservation and community development through dynamic dialogue and innovative solutions.

The forum, themed “Empowering grassroots movement of Youth Leadership through learning and sharing for a Nature and People Positive Future,” brought together youth leaders, innovators and change makers across Macuata’s 12 districts to engage over two days in meaningful dialogue and to shape the future of their communities.

Officiated by the Minister for Youth and Sport Mr Jese Saukuru, the training fostered a platform for young people to share their ideas, challenges, and aspirations. 

“This forum was a crucial platform for us to come together and address the pressing issues that are affecting our youth today, as the Minister for Youth and Sports, it is my duty to ensure that the voices of our youth are heard and that we work together to find solutions to the challenges that we face,” Minister Saukuru said.

Minister Saukuru also expressed deep concern over the rise in drug abuse among the nation’s youth, noting that drugs not only destroy lives but also tears families and communities apart.

He also emphasized the need for collective efforts to educate young people about the dangers of drug abuse and provide necessary support to help them make positive choices.

He pointed out the troubling prevalence of HIV/AIDs in the country, stressing the importance of continuing to raise awareness about the disease, promoting safe practices to prevent its spread and working to reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by those affected.

Minister Saukuru also called for immediate action to protect the environment, urging everyone to make changes in their daily lives to reduce carbon footprint and preserve natural resources for future generations.

In addressing the pervasive issue of violence against women, he called for immediate action, urging  society to condemn all forms of violence, educate the youth about gender equality, and empower them to become advocates for change within their communities.


Over the two days, 80 youth representatives heard from influential youth leads from the National Trust of Fiji Rangers and WWF-Fiji’s volunteer programme on how they have made significant impacts in their respective fields as well as participate in skill building sessions on topics ranging from entrepreneurship and technology to climate change and social activism.

“The Macuata Youth Forum was more than just an event; it is a movement aimed at mobilising and empowering young people of Macuata to catalyze positive change and take the lead in shaping their future. As the youth of Macuata come together, they will not only learn and grow but also pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient tomorrow,” said WWF-Fiji’s Great Sea Reef Programme Manager Ms Unaisi Malani-Tagicakibau.

Minister Saukuru emphasized the significant role of Fiji's youth in driving change and innovation within communities. He stated the importance of Fiji’s Youth Parliament and noted that the issues discussed would shape the agenda for next year's Youth Parliament. 


Other important highlights of the forum included panel discussions with experts and peers on pressing issues, innovative solutions and best practices that Macuata Youths can take back home and lead the necessary changes on the ground to address issues such as climate change, pollution, community-based sustainable development, and natural resource management.

“This is not limited to networking opportunities that connect youths to like-minded individuals, potential mentors and key stakeholders in the community. This forum represented a new dawn for the youth of Macuata. After nearly a decade, we are thrilled to provide a specific platform where young voices can be heard and their ideas can flourish as well as provide support to the management structures like the Macuata Provincial Youth Council and to the Ministry of Youth and Sports,” said Ms Unaisi Malani-Tagicakibau. 

The forum also spotlighted the inclusive efforts of the Gender Equity Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) programme, ensuring representation and active participation from youths living with disabilities, highlighting their vital role in shaping a sustainable and equitable future.


“Inclusivity and partnerships are essential to the sustainability of Macuata’s Youth Council, we will be having our annual general meeting tomorrow where we will elect our office bearers for the Youth Council, our first priority is to draft a strategic plan that will guide all youths of Macuata towards a sustainable managed future” said Jane Naulu, the interim Vice President of Macuata Youth Forum.

“In terms of inclusivity, our draft constitution has a clause that accommodates for all races, so whoever lives in a settlement under a registered village automatically becomes members,” she said.

“This forum has definitely provided the youths of Mali District a platform to mobilise and advocate for change, it’s been a useful two days of training and I can’t wait to go back to start working with the youths of Mali,” said Youth President for Mali island Pita Baleibau.

The Macuata Youth Forum was funded by WWF-Pacific and WWF-Australia's Gender Equity Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) programme, delivered in partnership with the Australian Government through the Australian NGO cooperation programme (ANCP) and with support from our corporate partner John West Australia.

About WWF    

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. More: panda.org


Macuata Youth Forum representatives with Fiji's Minister for Youth and Sports Mr Jese Saukuru.
© Tui Marseu Enlarge
Macuata Youth representatives take part an a tree planting exercise to mark World Environment Day with the Minister for Youth and Sports Mr Jese Saukuru in Labasa.
© Ministry of Youth and Sports Fiji Enlarge
WWF-Pacific Fiji & WWF-Australia staff with Fiji's Minister for Youth and Sport Mr Jese Saukuru during the Macuata Youth Forum.
© WWF Pacific Enlarge
District Representatives at the Macuata Youth Forum with Minister for Youth and Sport Mr Jese Saukuru
© Ministry of Youth and Sports, Fiji. Enlarge
Minister for Youth and Sports Mr Jese Saukuru with Naduri representative Ratu Tevita during the Macuata Youth Forum.
© Ministry of Youth and Sports Fiji Enlarge
Minister for Youth & Sports Mr Jese Saukuru with Mali district representatives at the Macuata Youth Forum.
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Macuata Youth Forum representatives.
© Mikaele Finau Enlarge
Jennifer Gabriel WWF-Regional GEDSI Advisor; Charlotte Sterrett-WWF- Australia; Talei Silibaravi- Kavewa Island Youth representative; Shalin Seeba- WWF-Australia during the Macuata Youth Forum.
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Fiji's Minister for Youth and Sports Mr Jese Saukuru plants native trees at Labasa's Lions Club with youths of Macuata.
© Ministry of Youth and Sports Fiji Enlarge