A speech by The Duke of Sussex at a reception to mark the Commonwealth Youth Challenge

Published 05 July 2018

We can’t wait to see you in action in your home countries and learn about what you’re doing to better the Commonwealth, and the world, in 2040 and beyond.

Good evening everyone,

It's a huge pleasure to be here at The Commonwealth Youth Challenge.

If there is one group of young people who can rise to the challenge of solving the world's greatest problems -- I know we've come to the right place!

As many of you know, earlier this year I was honoured to be named The Queen's Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.

My job as your Ambassador is to listen and learn from you, to amplify your voices and to bring your ideas to the attention of decision makers.  It only seems right that as the youth of today, you should play a part in shaping the policies which will make the future better for everyone.
I don’t take this job lightly. After all, this means that I have the opportunity to work alongside 1.4 billion young people across the Commonwealth.

In fact, one of my first acts as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador at CHOGM was to announce the new Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, to help people like you study across the Commonwealth.  I'm proud to share that 35,000 students from Fiji to Belize are already benefiting from these scholarships -- with more to come next year. I encourage everyone here to apply!

This week, you have been challenged to think about the future. You have been asked to help envision what we all strive for: a Commonwealth that is steeped in fairness, sustainability, prosperity and security.

You have been discussing and debating what the world will look like in 2040. That's only 22 years from now – and when thinking about the history of the world, that's just one small blip of time.

The time it takes to make great advancements in science, medicine, technology, and even human understanding, is rapidly shrinking.  The pace of technology and innovation will accelerate change to make the next 22 years feel like 200 years of progress.

In the past few years alone, we have seen smartphone technology used to detect eye disease for people living in remote parts of the world, artificial intelligence is being applied to reduce our energy use, and virtual reality is taking students from the classroom to experience life on mountain tops and ocean floors.

When talking about the future, recognising the advances and progress that we make year by year, month by month, and day by day, we know the potential for what can be achieved by 2040 is limitless!

Social change is also accelerating, and awareness is quickly turning into action. Just in the last year, the world’s understanding of the damage being done by single use plastics has grown rapidly and many governments and communities are taking big steps to tackle this very challenging problem.  Whether it’s biodegradable food packaging or limiting plastics use, there are good examples of everyone doing their part and I am sure many of you will play a role in your own communities to identify problems, but better yet, to develop solutions.

For all of you outside, now, here who have been thinking about the potential for the future – I encourage you to think of what you can contribute, and what you can encourage others to contribute as well.  Amongst all of you are
innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators – ready to tackle climate change, social injustice and inequality.

Together you will take on these big challenges – and be champions for your communities, for your families, your countries, and our Commonwealth.

Meghan and I are incredibly excited to meet so many of you representing the future of the Commonwealth.  Later this year we will embark on a tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.  This will be a wonderful opportunity for us to meet and hear from more young people about their ideas for creating a better future.

We can’t wait to see you in action in your home countries and learn about what you’re doing to better the Commonwealth, and the world, in 2040 and beyond.

Thank you.