Nominations are now open for the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work, which recognise outstanding young people who have had a significant impact on their communities and wider society. Young people aged 15 to 29 years can apply for the awards, which celebrate the achievements of those who lead initiatives to enhance democracy and development, from poverty alleviation to climate change, to peace building.

The awards are open to young people from countries across the Commonwealth. In addition to four regional award winners, one exceptional entrant will be recognised as Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2016 for Excellence in Development Work.

Ms Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “These awards recognise pioneering individuals who are creating change for the better in their communities. The inspirational young social entrepreneurs, human rights defenders, climate change activists, peace-builders, and many more, all join the ranks of the Commonwealth’s bright young leaders.”

A total of 16 finalists will be shortlisted from four Commonwealth regional categories: Africa and Europe, Asia, Americas and Caribbean, and Pacific. A winner will be selected from each region, and invited to London, United Kingdom, in early 2016 for a formal awards presentation.

Last year’s overall winner, Julius Shirima from Tanzania, who founded a microventure capital fund and entrepreneur network, said: “The Commonwealth Youth Awards have helped us to scale our work and reach more young entrepreneurs. We used the monetary award to invest in our income-generating projects and, as a result, we have invested in more young entrepreneurs' businesses. We have also advised youths from other countries on how they can start similar projects - this is all because of the exposure the Commonwealth Youth Award offers.”

Nominees must have been engaged in development work for more than 12 months either in a professional or voluntary capacity. Entries must be received through an online entry form before 31 August 2015. Entrants can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone who is not a relative and can testify to their work.

The finalists will receive cash grants of GBP£1,000 to continue their development work, and will each be awarded a trophy and certificate. Each regional winner will receive a cash grant of GBP£3,000, while the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year will receive GBP£5,000 to support an ongoing project or initiative.

Awards and shortlisting will be decided on the basis of the impact of the individual’s work, the level of innovation and problem-solving, and the quality of achievements, the sustainability of the work, and supporting evidence provided. The award winners will be announced in early March 2016.

Development work can be within any number of areas including agriculture, environment protection, entrepreneurship, skills training, arts and culture, education, health and well-being, human rights, information and communications technology, journalism, sports and science.

For more information about the Commonwealth Youth Awards, and to apply or nominate someone, please visit: