YOUTHAct launch event of Creative Arts Products for Anti-Corruption and Right to Information Awareness in Fiji

March 26, 2022

Your Excellency, the British High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji, Dr. Brian Jones

Executive Director, Integrity Fiji, Dr. Joseph Veramu

Board Chair and Members of Integrity Fiji

Head of Procurement of the Fiji Procurement Office, Mr. Saimoni Kila

Young people, media representatives, colleagues, distinguished guests.

A very good afternoon to you all.

I am delighted to be here today, along with our strategic partners from the British High Commission, Integrity Fiji and the Fiji Procurement Office.

I welcome you all, most sincerely.

I am also delighted to see so many young people here today and to feel the positive energy and creativity of youth. As many of you know, this event – supported by UNDP as part of our UK-funded Pacific Anti-Corruption Project – is part of a larger effort to support Pacific Island Countries to tackle the pernicious issue of corruption.

In this regard, I would like to highlight two critical aspects of our work together.

The first relates to the importance of youth, the optimism of young people, and your creativity and energy. Tackling corruption in all its destructive and dangerous forms is about making the future better, making it fairer, and making sure that society works so that everyone can benefit.

This is also what Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development focuses on, which guides UNDP’s work. Our mission is to make sure development works for everyone, especially the most disadvantaged, and ensure that no one gets left behind.

In this endeavour we need – we absolutely need – the energy, creativity and optimism of youth. It is a cliche to say that the future belongs to the young, but it does, and it will be the young people of today who will benefit most when we eradicate corruption and the unfairness and inefficiencies that go with it.

The second aspect I would like to highlight here today is the important link between fighting corruption and the Right to Information.

With a few well-defined exceptions, such as personal privacy and national security, the Right to Information ensures that all citizens have the right to access official government information. This allows everyone, at any level of society, to inspect government records and keep a check on government decisions and government activity.

The Right to Information is therefore one of the most powerful tools available to fight corruption.

In this connection, I am pleased to see the Head of Procurement and colleagues from the Fiji Procurement Office here today and to reiterate that the Right to Information is critical in efficient public procurement.

In this vital public activity, the Right to Information does not mean that citizens and media organizations can more easily detect and report corruption. It also means that problems, small failures and weak links can be identified and corrected more quickly, that the public can be served more efficiently, and that trust between citizens and government increases.

Fighting corruption and promoting and ensuring the Right to Information requires everyone’s efforts. Here today, I feel we have a remarkable coalition of the willing. I also feel we have a remarkable demonstration of how innovation and creativity – along with the energy and optimism of youth can be harnessed to make the world a better and fairer place.

Finally, I would like to thank most sincerely our partners and stakeholders for being here today and for all your inputs and efforts over the past months. Aside from our donor, the Government of the United Kingdom and the British High Commission Offices in the Pacific, whose input has been catalytic, I would like to highlight and thank Integrity Fiji and the Fiji Procurement Office for their innovative work together.

I thank you all for your attention and wish you every success - and I look forward to seeing the products of your creative efforts.

Vinaka vakalevu.