Published 29 June 2017

We are here today to recognise our Queen's Young Leaders for 2017. 

The Queen's Young Leaders Programme was launched in 2014 in honour of Her Majesty The Queen's 60 years of service to the Commonwealth. I'm excited to stand here three years later to say that the nominations for this programme has grown year after year –  and we now have Queen's Young Leaders represented from every country in the Commonwealth.

We often hear and read so much about the challenges people are facing in every corner of the world – all of which is brought vividly to life through digital and social media. We are better connected than ever before – this can make the world seem a faster, more complex, and challenging place. And too often it can make us all feel pessimistic about the future.

But that's not what I see. At home and abroad, I see people – especially young people – doing incredible things. Young people are using this technology more than ever to be a force for good and positive change in their communities. They are creative and innovative, and most importantly, they are committed to making the world a better, more optimistic, and compassionate place.

That's why I am honoured to welcome this year's award winners here tonight. The Queen's Young Leaders award recognises what these incredible young people have achieved – not for themselves, but for others – for their peers, for their communities, for their environment, and for those less fortunate. 

To this year's winners: your service spans a broad spectrum of fields from tackling bullying in schools to preserving the environment, and social entrepreneurship to supporting those who are caring for a family member with dementia, to name just a few. You have already been an inspiration to so many; but I hope this award will motivate you to go out and achieve even greater things in the future, empowered by the network of leaders you now sit amongst. Each of you are proof that one person can in fact make a tremendous difference and together change the world.

The Commonwealth represents nearly a third of the world's population – and is home to over a billion young people under the age of 30. These young people are already tackling many of today's most pressing issues and will be the creative minds to take on the biggest challenges we will face in the future.  It's our job – those of us who can no longer hand-on-heart call ourselves 'young' – to create a platform where we can listen to the next generation and empower them to act.

The Queen, who assumed the challenge of leadership at such a young age herself, has shown us all the importance of selfless commitment and service.  I know all of us aspire to the standard that she has set for people throughout the Commonwealth and the World.  

You are now part of a network of Queen's Young Leaders across all 52 countries in the Commonwealth, and I have no doubt that you will continue your inspiring work. You are ambassadors for this programme and true champions for all those who are committed to improving the lives of those in their communities. 

It is my pleasure to congratulate the Queen's Young Leaders for 2017. Thank you for inspiring us all.