The populations of Pacific Island countries are young and becoming younger. This means that youth will play a pivotal role in shaping their countries’ futures domestically and in response to issues of the climate crisis and geopolitical contestation between China and Western allies. A challenge to addressing these issues is the subservient role that young people play and are expected to play in Pacific communities, countries and cultures. This talk focuses on the activities and aspirations of youth in Fiji and Solomon Islands, discussing research with youth activists and advocates about how young people can drive change and be supported to not just be leaders of tomorrow but partners in addressing challenges today. In particular, the talk will focus on how youth aspirations are being shaped and exploited by the dynamic geopolitical tensions in the region, as super-powers struggle to exert influence within Pacific Island countries.