‘Junior 8’ Youth Forum opens in Russia

© UNICEF Russian Federation 2006/Alena Svirid
The French youth delegation poses with UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore at the Junior 8 Youth Forum’s opening session in Pushkin, Russia.

By Thomas Nybo

PUSHKIN, Russia, 10 July 2006 – With the goal of influencing world leaders, 64 young people from G8 member countries today opened the ‘Junior 8’ Youth Forum, or J8, in Pushkin, near St. Petersburg, Russia.

The J8 participants from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are to spend the next week putting together a list of recommendations, which eight of the teenagers will hand-deliver to G8 leaders on 16 July. 

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore attended today’s opening session, where the youth delegates presented their meeting agenda along with their topics for roundtable discussions. Issues to be covered at the forum include education, HIV/AIDS and violence.

Both Ms. Veneman and Sir Roger addressed the opening of the summit and then held a lively question-and-answer session with the delegates.

© UNICEF Russian Federation 2006/Alena Svirid
Balloons released during the Junior 8 Youth Forum flag-raising ceremony.

Energizing youth worldwide

“In an increasingly global village, as we are drawn closer together both literally and figuratively, these young people represent not just the J8 but all countries around the world,” said Ms. Veneman.

For his part, Sir Roger offered practical advice for the young delegates before they meet some of the world's most powerful leaders. "Just point out to them that next year or the year after, you will be the voters," he said. "And they need votes to stay where they are."

Taking their role seriously, the international youth delegates are working hard to articulate their opinions about exactly what kind of world they want to inhabit.

"I believe that, collectively, the world has the power to deal with the issues being discussed here but must unite together to do so," said one of the delegates from the United States, Shaunt Attarian. "And I feel that my goal here is to help energize youth worldwide to deal with these issues."

Sabine Dolan contributed to this story from New York.




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10 July 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on the opening session of the Junior 8 Youth Forum near St. Petersburg, Russia.
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