Climate Change

Alliance Group Encourages Young People in Sustainable Development Space

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of young people created safe spaces for individuals reeling from the impact of the virus.
28 Jun 2022 12:00
Alliance Group Encourages Young People in Sustainable Development Space
Members of the Alliance for Future Generations Fiji hiked Mount Korobaba in Suva as a team bonding activity during the Easter weekend this year. Photo: Josefa Babitu

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of young people created safe spaces for individuals reeling from the impact of the virus.

With jobs lost, opportunities shut and even restriction measures stricter than before there seemed to be no way out of the misery.

The Alliance for Future Generations Fiji (AFG Fiji) – a young-people-led group focused on sustainable development – was on the move to keep sanity intact. It targets people who are 35 years old and below – basically, young people.


We virtually talk about mental health, which was sort of like a big issue at the time, said the organisation’s co-founder, Lavetanalagi Seru.

Mr Seru said the pandemic was a silent crisis that many people needed guidance out of the struggles they were going through.

“It was impacting many young people, some of them had dropped out of school,” he shared in an interview.

“And so, we created these virtual spaces for young people to talk about strategies and coping mechanisms for mental health and just really a space for peer-to-peer support, to webinars, bringing in key experts to talk on key issues confronting young people.”


He said the COVID-19 pandemic was the one time when they were inundated with requests for help from community members.

Apart from this, the organization also works in other areas of development. The organisation’s scope of work is centred around sustainable development.

“We also have a flagship programme called the Youth Climate Ambassadors Program. This is a programme where we take young people through a six-month training and we have sent some of those youths to attend COP (Conference of Parties) meetings,” he said.

“This is sort of like a capacity strengthening training for them. And before we support them to go to COP meetings, we train them to contribute to discussions which elevates some of the learnings of the Pacific.”


Some members of the organisation participated in the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, United Kingdom last year. Members used the platform to represent youth voices and wear multiple hats of sustainable development goals to engage in creative actions, side events and plenary sessions to discuss and amplify Fijian voices.

Participants also took part in the climate strike march, media interviews, strategy meetings and policy coordination meetings to create an impact.

Epeli Lalagavesi was one of the representatives from the organisation.

“He told a story about a traditional type of canoe in Fiji, The Vaka, in which the older community members sit in the back and row, propelling the boat forward,” reported the Climate For Restoration.


It was also highlighted in one of the meetings that younger people need to sit in the front, navigating and guiding the boat in the right direction.

“That should be the way forward. Youths in the front are navigating us forward”, said Mr Lalagavesi.

The Alliance For Future Generations Fiji started its work in 2018 through a common interest shared by three people. Mr Seru was one of them.


The Alliance has built itself as a respectable organisation with over 600 members registered.

“It was basically about an idea that brought together some likeminded young leaders, which was to start a network or set up a coordinated network of young people who genuinely are interested to work in the area of sustainable development,” he said.

“We recognise that there were many youth groups and some really great work on issues such as gender equality, accountability and transparency, peace and security, oceans, climate change, sexual reproductive health and so they were all doing this work, but they were working in silos.


“We needed a platform and so we thought, setting up something that could bring these issues together and to frame sustainable development.”  The infant industry is diverse when it comes to its members.

“We have people who have white collar jobs, those who are working blue collar jobs, and those who are studying and some vulnerable and marginalised population including
LGBTQI sex workers, single parents, young people who’ve been formerly incarcerated in jails, those living with HIV, young people with disabilities – they’re all part of the network,” Mr Lagi highlighted.

“We are driven, and we are also guided by the vision and that is basically to build Fiji – to make it safe, usable and sustainable.

“And then where young people are actually the protagonists of change that brings about some positive changes, development and also impacts to the community.”


He said the organization has eyes and ears on the ground in the central, western and northern division, working with some of the partners to implement projects to
raise awareness on sustainable development issues.

“Our pillars of work are ecological justice, social justice and economic justice. And we have four thematic working groups, and the working groups are based on what young people have deemed as key issues to sort of work on them to champion human rights,” he said.

“Then there are oceans, and then finally climate justice. And they really drive the work in terms of not only community action, or, mangrove planting, coastal clean-up, coral restoration, whatever that is.

But they are also part of the policy and decision-making spaces so they’re also in those rooms to articulate and have the demands and aspirations of young people.”


Policy Update
According to Mr Seru, Fiji’s mental health and suicide prevention policy has not been updated since 2020. And there’s nothing yet, he adds.

“We are looking at how young people can take a proactive approach in pushing government around to getting a new policy that looks into mental health and suicide prevention,” he said.

“For us, we have the health working group working on doing some baseline research, to support whatever sort of not demands but recommendations to the government so that it can get this niche policy up for implementation.”

Additionally, the organisation was working on getting people to achieve a ‘very cohesive and peaceful society.

“We will bring together young people from both groups to have a deeper understanding about each other’s culture, tradition, assumptions and way of life,” he said.


Many young people are taking the lead in terms of amplifying voices
for the weak and planet earth.

“We live in a very, you know, a fast paced, changing world today and there are a lot of opportunities in that, but there is also a lot of risk and harm,” he warned.

“I think for young people today we need to stand up individually
and collectively to see what are the risks and harms that are being perpetuated.”

Mr Seru believes that young people want to determine the future that they envision.


About Seru
Lavetanalagi Seru is a jack of all trades. He has spent his entire life advocating on issues concerning the environment as a climate activist.

Mr Seru also has a background in youth development, gender and human rights. He currently runs a network – Coordinator of the Alliance for Future Generations Fiji – a young people led network on sustainable development.

He recently became a board member of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network while working as a Climate Justice Project Officer in 2021. Mr Seru is also the Regional
Policy Coordinator for the organisation.



  • The Fiji Sun would like to thank Alliance for Future Generations Fiji, ABC International Development and the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership for their support for this story.

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