General - Jul 19, 2021 Empowering Pacific Youth This World Youth Skills Day

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day (WYSD), to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship. The theme for the 2021 WYSD is ‘Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic’.

Our youth can play an active role in protecting and improving the environment. They can change their lifestyle and how it affects the environment. They can make their homes, schools and youth organisations more environmentally friendly by adopting environmentally friendly practices, recycling different materials as well as preserving resources such as water and electricity. Engaging youth in environmental protection not only creates a direct impact on changing youth behaviours and attitudes but possibly influences their parents, relatives and families.

Today, we shine the spotlight on two community-initiated social enterprises in Vanuatu that have embraced waste management to empower youth, promote life skills, and create employment opportunities.

Pango village, located outside of Port Vila, is home to Vanuatu’s leading waste collection company called Pango Green Force. The company was established by the youth in 2013 to address unemployment and provide rubbish collection services to residents in Pango. Pango Green Force was setup as a cooperative model, with five shareholders representing the five youth associations in Pango village. In addition to rubbish collection, the business offers free workshops to its youth associations on various topics including business management, good governance and bookkeeping. Today, PGF employs over 20 trained youth to deliver rubbish collection services across 600 households and 13 resorts every week.

Ohlen73 youth group organising clean up at a Music Festival

The Chairman of Pango Green Force, Mr Solomon Jimmy, has seen positive changes in the village as a result of youth being trained and engaged in waste management.

“Even the children, they know where to put the trash. They understand waste sorting because we have built that awareness through the business,” explained Mr Jimmy.

Mr Jimmy went on to explain that the success of Pango Green Force relies on the support of the five youth associations in Pango.

“This business belongs to the youth. The youth take ownership of it, and they encourage their families to buy our rubbish bags and promote our services,” said Mr Jimmy.

Ohlen73 is the name of a youth group whose members reside along the same street in Ohlen, Port Vila. In 2018, the youth from Ohlen73 registered as a youth association under the Vanuatu National Youth Council and set their vision to deter youth from involving themselves from illegal activities by engaging them in community service. Ohlen73 initiated street clean-up days to beautify the street and introduce waste sorting to each household.

“We have over forty young people from our street-ready to participate in every cleanup event. When Vanuatu introduced the single-use plastic ban, we used the brochures and posters from the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation to do community awareness during our street clean-ups,” explained one of the youth leaders, Mr Riechmann Toka

Their activities caught the attention of World Vision Vanuatu’s Resilience and Livelihood project, Waste Not Want Not. Through the support of World Vision Vanuatu, members of Ohlen73 participated in further trainings on hygiene, waste management and business. They were also provided PPE and tools to assist with their waste management programme. Another milestone for Ohlen73 was their engagement in clean-up during the annual Fes Napuan music festival in Port Vila.

Mr Charles Nimanick, is a Development Facilitator for World Vision Vanuatu. He has been working closely with youth in communities around Port Vila to promote waste management initiatives and deliver trainings.

“As a youth myself, I can relate to the young people who attend our trainings. When they see another youth facilitating, they have the confidence to join in and learn,” said Mr Nimanick.

Mr Nimanick highlighted that one of the challenges in Port Vila is the lack of youth leaders in the communities.

“We see that youth groups making a positive impact in their communities often have at least one or two youth who lead by example,” said Mr Nimanick.

We acknowledge Pango Green Force, Ohlen73 and Mr Nimanick for leading an innovative youth initiative towards taking better care of the environment. The PacWastePlus programme is excited to be able to work on similar community-initiated initiatives once our country projects commence on the ground.

Happy World Youth Skills Day!