Press Release

Our young Pacific people are calling for action!

27 May 2024

The SIDS Global Children and Youth Action Summit will hear young Pacific voices in decision-making processes that shape their futures. 

Caption: UNICEF workshop in Kiribati empowering youth

SUVA, Fiji, 23 May 2024 – UNICEF Pacific is supporting five young people from Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Samoa, and Vanuatu, to take part in the SIDS Global Children and Youth Action Summit (CYAS) held this week in Antigua and Barbuda.

The CYAS is a ground-breaking event aimed at empowering young people from Small Island Developing States to address the complex challenges facing their communities. Held ahead of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, CYAS will bring together a diverse group of young leaders to share their perspectives, develop solutions, and take action on critical issues like climate change, poverty and digital transformation.

“I see the impacts that climate change has left on my people every single day - whether it be damaged housing and crops from cyclones, sea level rise, droughts, or many more. I am truly blessed to have this opportunity to attend the SIDS CYAS and I look forward to the youth voices finally being heard,” said Gabrielle Kaltongga, who is from Vanuatu and is one of the five young people. “I’m also excited to meet and share experiences with other young activists, learning from masterclasses, and most of all, I’m excited to see the actions that will be taken to build our islands up and enable them to flourish.” 

Earlier this year, UNICEF supported in-person consultations across the region with young people and national partners to better understand the challenges and opportunities they face on sustainable development issues. 

From these consultations, eight priority issues including climate, digital technology, clean water and safe sanitation, healthcare and resources, education, poverty and unemployment, violence as well as transport will be the key focus for the Pacific at the Conference and Summit.

"Our voices are shaped by unique challenges and our dreams dance on the tides of hope and resilience.  In a matter of days, youth from all over the world will be able to share their stories and together, weave a sail and chart our own course, for the youth, is the ethos of our future,” said Tamarua Marsters, who is from Cook Islands and is also one of the five young people. “I am honoured to be joining my regional brothers and sisters at this global summit - for our islands are not just dots on the map, but beacons of inspiration and change.”

The UNICEF-supported team is part of a group of 17 delegates aged between 14-25 years from 10 countries in the region who are attending the Summit. They will be the voice of their people on sustainable development issues that matter most to the Pacific.

“Children and young people want to be engaged in addressing the challenges they face, and they have solid solutions to offer. However, they require a much more enabling environment from adults to help them find solutions when faced with challenges such as emotional stress, financial hardship, and violence,” said UNICEF Pacific’s Representative, Jonathan Veitch.

“UNICEF is really proud of the team who are attending SIDS4 and bringing the hopes and aspirations of all young people in the Pacific to this very vital Summit, where the future of all SIDS will be discussed. UNICEF is supporting these young voices to be heard and to be valued in decision-making processes.”

UNICEF, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and The Ashley Lashley Foundation, have organized the CYAS recognizing the vital role young people play in building a more resilient future for SIDS.

Through interactive workshops, discussions, and project development, the Summit equips participants with the knowledge and skills to become effective changemakers. 


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

For more information about UNICEF Pacific and its work for children, follow UNICEF Pacific on Twitter and Facebook 


For more information, please contact:
Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +679 9988137,

Zubnah Khan

Communications Officer

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United Nations Children’s Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative