|Children from non-G8 countries discuss their concerns in advance of the Junior 8 Summit in Chitose City, Hokkaido, Japan.|
By Terra Weikel
CHITOSE CITY, Hokkaido, Japan, 1 July 2008 – On the eve of the opening of the 4th Junior 8 Summit, children and young people from seven non-G8 countries have gathered here to discuss the global issues that are most pressing to them and their communities.
This group wants to ensure that voices from the non-G8 world are heard and that their issues are given serious consideration in this yearly summit that runs parallel to the G8 Summit of world leaders.
One delegate from the group of non-G8 young people, as well as one from each G8 country, will meet with the leaders later this week, as an official part of the G8 Summit ceremonies. Before that meeting, the group of young people will draft the ‘Chitose Declaration’, a document that will define their requests and recommendations as representatives of the world’s children.
Reasons for coming together
This year’s non-G8 representatives to the J8 Summit include young people from Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and South Africa. On this initial day of meetings – huddled together in a meeting room of Chitose’s main cultural centre, and speaking shyly at first – they shared the reasons that brought them to the summit.
The young man from Nepal was adamant about presenting the concerns of street children, while the young woman from Iraq spoke of her work to combat the recent outbreak of cholera in her region. The delegate from Barbados has recently produced a television programme about HIV and AIDS, and sexuality in the Caribbean, where she says sex is such a casual decision that “it’s like catching the bus.”
Non-G8 representation is key
Non-G8 delegates were included in the J8 Summit in 2005, 2007 and now in 2008. When they were not included in the 2006 summit, the delegates from the G8 countries demanded that no other summit should occur without representation from these other countries – especially those from regions most affected by the issues that the G8 Summit usually addresses, such as poverty and global warming.
The Junior 8 Summit officially kicks off on 2 July 2008, when the G8 countries’ delegates will also join the events.