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J8 delegates’ action plan grabs the attention of G8 leaders

© UNICEF/HQ08-0656/Government of Japan
G8 leaders gather with Junior 8 Summit delegates at a hotel where they are meeting on the shores of Lake Toya in Hokkaido, Japan.

CHITOSE CITY, Hokkaido, Japan, 8 July 2008 – After days of intense sessions, during which they debated and then drafted their ‘Chitose Declaration’ on issues of concern to the world’s children, 9 of the 39 Junior 8 Summit delegates here boarded a bus yesterday to go to the site of the G8 Summit of world leaders.

After a two-hour ride, security clearance and extensive protocol preparations, the J8 representatives finally had a face-to-face meeting with their presidents and prime ministers.

At a hotel on the shores of Lake Toya, the young people met and mingled with Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President George W. Bush and the rest of the G8 attendees during an informal session as the G8 meeting opened in Hokkaido.

Japanese J8 representative Shiro Kuriwaki stepped forward and officially presented the Chitose Declaration to the G8 leaders, urging them to turn “these young people’s ideas into actions, and not just words.”

‘It’s our future’

The document focuses on issues that will have a particularly strong impact on young people who are coming of age in the first decades of the 21st century: climate change, global health, and poverty and development, with a focus on Africa.

 

© UNICEF/HQ08-0568/Sato
Young delegates from Barbados, Russia, Japan and the United Kingdom hold a press conference outlining the proposals in the Chitose Declaration – the outcome document from the J8 Summit.

On climate change, the declaration calls for an effective successor to the Kyoto Protocol, incorporating reasonable guidelines for meeting greenhouse gas emission targets and reasonable incentives for all countries to take action.

At a press conference called to outline the proposals in the Chitose Declaration, UK delegate Harry Brooks said “it is the youth who are going to suffer the consequences” of climate change.

“It’s our future and it’s our planet,” he added. “We feel it is very important for the governments to realize the imminent danger that we as a global community are in. Companies, individuals and governments must make sacrifices in order to improve our situation.”

Global health issues

The delegate representing non-G8 countries, Je-Meila Maloney of Barbados, described the J8 proposals on the most challenging global health issue.

“We believe that G8 governments must buy patents from pharmaceutical companies, in order to resell them to corporations willing to produce low-cost drugs,” said Je-Meila. “This will speed up the price drop of life-saving medicines.

“We believe, as the J8 community, that when we have touched one life, we have touched a generation,” she concluded.

Group action plan

The young delegates are determined to make sure that yesterday’s events – and all the work leading up to them – will mean more than an exciting trip and a photo opportunity. To that end, they have released a group action plan, which supplements the Chitose Declaration and outlines their own commitments for tackling key global challenges when they return home.

So while only a few of the G8 leaders committed to follow-up meetings with their J8 representatives, it seems certain that this isn’t the last the world will hear from the participants in the 2008 J8 Summit.

At the end of the long day, back in Chitose after being welcomed by the cheers of the other J8 delegates, Shiro Kuriwaki of Japan – one of the nine selected to go to the G8 venue – reflected on the meeting with world leaders.

“We were able to talk really informally,” he said. “I was a bit worried if I was talking a bit rudely to my prime minister, but I think we really made an impression on the G8 leaders.”

 

 

 
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