Making an impact

Broderick Mervyn at the Malaysian Parliament. Picture: SUPPLIED

BRODERICK Mervyn describes himself as a relentless idealist and a modern island guy.

It’s his inexhaustible curiosity, and drive to expand his horizon that motivates him.

So much so, it has taken him to regional and world forums where he strives to highlight youth issues not only in Fiji but the Pacific.

It’s a subject that he is passionate about.

The law student at the University of the South Pacific is a proud alumnus of the Young Diplomats Forum (YDF), Kuala Lumpur 2018.

The meet brings exceptionally bright and accomplished future leaders together and gain further insight, tools and opportunities to engage with key stakeholders at a crucial time in their careers and broaden their connections to influence global leaders.

“My journey on youth empowerment started in 2013 after I attended my first workshop in Nadi,” he describes.

“With our country teeming with 70 per cent of people below the age of 40 years and less than 50 per cent of Fiji’s gross national income contributed by the youth — there is a dire need to develop this percentage.

“I saw the need to empower youth for a better tomorrow and how it is connected both, to the financial elevation as well as increment of the standard of living.”

His youth participation has taken him to many summits and forums where he represented both Fiji and the Pacific.

These summits include the National Student Leadership Forum ( NSLF) – Canberra, Australia, COP23 & COY13 – Bonn, Germany, Asia Pacific Youth Parliament for Water (APYPW) – Ulsan, The World Youth Summit for Peace in Islamabad, Pakistan, JENESYS – Tokyo, Japan Global Citizenship Education (GCED) in Busan and the YDF in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“The gathering of youth delegates representing different countries, a diversity of young voices, and the perfect chance to network and discuss issues relating to the world we live in was amazing and its something I don’t want to miss,” he said.

“Being the only representative from the Pacific, I was fortunate to be part of YDF forum where different opinions and ideas were respected. The forum insisted on tolerance and rejected any form of discrimination hence providing an exemplary model for respect of different nationalities, gender, faith and race.

“The activities designed had an impact on expanding access to knowledge and expertise in areas related to diplomacy, which increased my understanding and appreciation of diplomatic routes in conflict resolution, and also enhanced appreciation of understanding and interaction between societies.

“The Pacific Island region face a range of environmental problems. Many of the possible most damaging problems are caused mainly by the activities of countries outside the region.

“The problems of ozone depletion and climate change, domestic waste, fisheries, forest cover, land use and land tenure, soil loss through soil erosion and loss of fertility were some of the issues discussed at the forum,” he said.

Another issue that was discussed further was the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) where indigenous people are the minority or majority in the region.

“I think it is an important aspect that should be looked into fully. There’s always been the assumption that UNDRIP applied only to indigenous people in countries where they are the minority but in reality the UNDRIP is relevant and applicable even in a region where the indigenous population is a majority,” he says.

“Rotuma under Fiji’s citizenship and electoral laws is also regarded as indigenous unlike the much larger Indo-Fijian community born in Fiji. The UN has recognised Rotuma as a dying culture and it is on its edge of extinction. From the 15,000 Rotumans around the world, only one-third can speak the language hence listed on the cultures that are endangered.”

These and other issues are close to Mr Mervyn’s heart and he will not stop advocating for challenges faced by youth in the Pacific.