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Youth Perspectives from Tahiti (French Polynesia) Webinar

The Pacific-Australia Youth Association recently held their webinar, ‘Youth Perspectives from Tahiti (French Polynesia)’, on Monday 13 June 2022 at 4pm AEST via Zoom.

Tourism is a vital industry for the prosperity of the Pacific. The effects of the pandemic have been felt in French Polynesia, impacting the local economy and community. After this period, what does the future hold for Tahiti? Four inspiring young people shared their thoughts and vision.

Attracting nearly 40 registrations for the virtual event, the project was supported and financed by the Australian-French Association for Research Innovation (AFRAN) for a two part series on the Future of the French Pacific Territories. Many distinguished guests joined the online webinar, including Monsieur Naea Bennett, the Minister for Youth, Crime Prevention, and Sport in French Polynesia, and Madame Claire Scott, the Consul-General at the Australian Consulate-General in Papeete, French Polynesia.

Different panellists spoke about the impact of the pandemic on their studies, aspirations and interactions with peers. They recognised that as a tourism-reliant economy, the effects were severe for the islands. The speakers reflected on how the government has engaged with youth during this period and highlighted some positive steps, as well as the need for further facilitation of youth events, workshops and seminars. Others spoke of the opportunities for students to either study abroad or remain in French Polynesia, and how to attract them to contribute to industries and utilise their skills for local development. They reflected on the importance of expanding educational programs and outreach.

The group also talked about how French Polynesia can ensure it is self-sufficient in agriculture as well as food and energy generation. They raised topics about the cost of living and the need to improve local production. Several of them spoke about the importance of their culture, history and the interactions with other Pacific islands. There was a lot of optimism from the speakers about what young people can and have already achieved within French Polynesia. Various questions were asked from the audience members, including how to promote sustainable development and provide the opportunities for youth to be engaged in politics. The discussion was an enriching exchange between four young people from French Polyenasia who shared their reflections about their islands and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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