Junior 8 delegates present youth perspectives to G8 world leaders
By Anwulika Okafor
NEW YORK, 7 June 2007 – For nine young people participating in the Junior 8 Summit in Germany, today was the opportunity of a lifetime.
These 9 were chosen by their peers – a group of 74 youths from 18 countries – to present the J8 recommendations to world leaders attending the G8 Summit of industrialised nations in Heiligendamm.
The recommendations were the culmination of a week’s work done by the diverse group of young people, addressing what they see as the needs of the world’s future generations.
“We know that tomorrow our generation will have to cope with the legacy of today. So we have united at this third Junior 8 Summit to work intensively on ways to brighten this legacy,” the children stated in the introduction to the Junior 8 Summit Declaration discussed at a 45-minute meeting with the world leaders.
Speaking for future generations
Developed at the J8 Summit held this week in Wismar, Germany, the Declaration touched on issues such as economic development in Africa, climate change, energy efficiency and HIV/AIDS – the same subjects on the G8 Summit agenda. The youth delegates urged G8 leaders to:
Prior to sitting down with the G8 leaders, the youths had met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore. They also heard from former child soldier Ishmael Beah, who read to them from his memoir of life during the conflict in Sierra Leone.
And South African HIV/AIDS activist Thembi Ngubane spoke to the J8 participants about her own struggles as a teenager living with HIV, and now as the mother of a two-year-old child who is HIV-free.
‘We are here to make a change’
For these young people, representing both developed and developing nations, the J8 Summit was an opportunity to come together across cultural divisions and work for a healthier, happier future for all of the world’s children.
In concluding their Declaration to the G8, the young people said: “We are here to make a change. We will continue to address the challenges which confront our world to the best of our abilities. In seeking to resolve these challenges, we need your support.
“We see that with great power comes great responsibility. You must fulfil your promises, both old and new,” the Declaration continued. “Together it is possible to make a difference.”