‘Junior 8’ delegates prepare for meeting with G8 summit leaders
By Thomas Nybo
PUSHKIN, Russia, 13 July 2006 – Inside the Junior 8 Youth Summit here, 64 young leaders are debating and discussing the recommendations they will deliver to G8 leaders on 16 July.
With the help of translators and radio headsets, the ‘J8’ delegations representing all of the G8 countries bridge five languages to focus on the key issues of education, energy and HIV/AIDS.
One of the most outspoken delegates is also one of the youngest, 13-year-old James Goodall of the United Kingdom.
"The J8 Summit is important to me because I believe in the past we have exploited many of the poorer countries, yet have given nothing in return, and because of this, their economies are not as strong as ours,” asserts James. “And I believe it's time to give something back to them, because it's not fair that we're so advanced, yet they're so far behind."
Statements on the issues
For many, the highlight of this week’s activities so far was a chance to play chess against former world champion Anatoly Karpov, who carried on nine games simultaneously. The French delegates managed a draw.
Back at work, youth delegates like 17-year-old Elena delle Site of Italy prepare statements on the issues they want to raise during the upcoming G8 meeting.
“I think the J8 is important because it can probably help create a platform between children and G8 leaders, so children have an opportunity to speak about the same themes as G8 leaders,” says Elena.
Many here have voiced strong opinions about the challenges facing the world. “The main problem for me is HIV, because we know how to solve this problem and it’s such a big cause of death,” observes French youth delegate Xavier Atwell.
Throughout the day on Friday, the youth delegates will exchange ideas with other children from around the world via a series of international video conference calls linking them to their peers in Thailand, Egypt, South Africa and Mexico.
After this day of discussions, the J8 participants will convene on Saturday to prepare for the climax of their trip – the all-important meeting with the G8 leaders.
While their detailed recommendations are still to be completed, these 64 young voices from eight countries are joining together with one basic message: Help and protect children.
Sabine Dolan contributed to this story from New York.
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