Bradley Yombon-Copio, and Luther Kising during the Pacific Conference on Governance, last week, in Auckland, New Zealand.

A “Milestone Achievement” is how The University of Papua New Guinea’s SRC President, Mr. Luther Kising, described his recent trip to Auckland, New Zealand, with the former SRC President, Mr. Bradley Yombon-Copio, to attend the Pacific Conference on Governance – Pacific Youth Spotlighting Anti-Corruption in Climate Change and Gender Equality. This was also the first time that the University’s SRC has been represented at an international level.

The 2023 UPNG Student Representative Council was given the opportunity by Mr. Bradley Yombon-Copio, to engage, internationally, with regional partners and important stakeholders during the conference, and formed a partnership with the New Zealand Union of Students’ Association. They also discussed the possibility of a student exchange program, and future partnerships.

Mr. Yombon-Copio is the Commonwealth Students Association Pacific Regional Representative, and with his experience of student leadership and youth representation, said that it was rewarding to help facilitate the University’s SRC’s engagement at this level, and wanted to give the opportunity to the incumbent President.

He said that this is an opportunity which goes back to how UPNG is willing to support international engagement.

“I think we will see a continued partnership between students from within the region, and I believe these partnerships will be instrumental in leading to student exchange programs, and knowledge sharing which can be beneficial for everyone.”

He added that PNG should be a leader in the Pacific and that this is a great initiative for our youth leaders.

As a young leader and student representative, Mr. Kising said that representing UPNG and PNG at a Pacific Regional Conference is something that has given him confidence in PNG’s progress as a nation. Although PNG is the biggest nation in the Pacific, it is very disappointing that we do not have the dominant standing in international forums and regional conferences.

He said that he was amazed by the range of topics discussed at the conference and the speeches by the prominent leaders of the Pacific. “It’s astonishing, because PNG lacks engagement and representation in such international students’ conferences. I really encountered integration because of the magnitude in this drive for change at the Pacific level.”

In sharing his experience, Mr. Kising said, “That conference really changed my view as a Papua New Guinean citizen because there many things yet to be achieved in our nation, and to be exposed to such international gatherings at this stage of my career is encouraging.”

He added that our generation of students, professionals and leaders need global exposure. He encouraged young Papua New Guineans to understand the dynamics of the contemporary trends in world development, and how things are progressing at the international level. This will enable us to align ourselves to be competitive and capable of meeting international standard. As Papua New Guineans, we may assume that our country is progressing well. However, seeing how things are working internationally, Mr. Kising said that we really need a total shift in our perspective as a nation. We must be vigilant as to how we will manage the national development of this beautiful country. “We need to be socially developed, politically integrated, economically strong, and psychologically mature,” he said.

As a young leader representing the Innovative Global University of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Region, Mr. Kising appealed to the government, the University, and other organisations to support students’ programs and engagement in international and regional conferences.

The Pacific Governance Conference – ‘Pacific Youth Spotlighting Anti-Corruption in Climate Change and Gender Equality’ – builds on a series of milestone developments under what has now become an unprecedented youth anti-corruption movement which is led by the University of the South Pacific Students’ Association (USPSA) in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji.

The conference saw youth participants engage in strategic discussions with prominent Pacific leaders, on advancing good governance, with a focus on the impacts of corruption on sustainable development.

Participants included young people and students from eighteen Pacific countries (including youth representatives from the University of the South Pacific, Pacific Youth Councils, national universities, and civil society) along with leaders and representatives from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Pacific Community, Pacific political leaders and policy makers, international governance experts, representatives from civil society, media organizations, and academia.