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At a glance: Italy

Youth leaders gear up for Junior 8 Summit, to parallel upcoming G8 meeting in Italy

© UNICEF video
A youth delegate at a past Junior 8 Summit makes a point with her peers from other nations. J8 2009 begins on 5 July, hosted at the Istituto Superiore Antincendi in Rome.

By Amy Bennett

NEW YORK, USA, 26 June 2009 – If you had the opportunity to tell the world’s leaders what they should do to solve global problems, what would you say? That’s the question youth delegates to the Junior 8 Summit will wrestle with as they prepare to meet with presidents and prime ministers from the G8 industrialized nations in Italy next month.

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One issue isn’t up for debate: All of the delegates agree that children and young people have a fundamental right to participate in decisions that affect them directly. In fact, that’s the whole idea behind the ‘J8’.

Youth perspectives
Around the world, teams of young people aged 14 to 17 are packing their bags for the 2009 youth summit, which is scheduled for 5-12 July in Rome. The J8 takes place parallel to the G8 meeting, which will be held this year in L’Aquila, Italy.

At the J8, a total of 32 youth delegates from the G8 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States – will be joined by teams of four young people each from Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico and South Africa.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-0673/Sato
J8 delegates review their work on a laptop computer at the 2008 youth meeting held in the city of Chitose on Japan's Hokkaido Island.

J8 representatives will meet with the G8 leaders on 9 July to present the ideas that come out of the youth summit, in hopes that world decision-makers will seriously consider the perspectives of children and young people.

‘Leaders of tomorrow’
At the J8 meetings each year, young people have the chance to connect with their peers from other nations and share their concerns and ideas. Most important, they work together on youth-oriented solutions to major global problems, and they bring these recommendations directly to the attention of G8 leaders.

“I really think these are the leaders of tomorrow,” said violinist Nicola Benedetti, a UNICEF High Profile Supporter who attended the first youth summit in 2005. “When you listen to them speak, they really have the belief that things can change.”

Added J8 2008 delegate Je-Meila Maloney from Barbados: “We believe, as the J8’s community, that when we have touched one life, we have touched a generation.”

Accountability from world leaders
In the first days of the J8 Summit this year, all of the participants will meet to exchange stories of their lives and experiences. They will also make presentations to each other about the information they have gathered on the three themes of the summit: climate change, the world financial crisis and development in Africa.

© UNICEF video
At the J8 Summit, young people can connect with their peers and work together on youth-oriented solutions to major global problems.

Based on these conversations, the delegates will decide on their shared priorities and goals, and prepare their joint declaration. A smaller number of participants, representing the entire J8 team, will present the group’s conclusions in a face-to-face meeting with the G8 leaders.

Judging from past years, these young people aren’t likely to hold back their feelings at that meeting. Accountability is key to seeing their hard work during the summit pay off.

“We think it’s important that the G8 leaders follow up on the declaration and actually show us what they’ve done and what improvements they’ve made,” Japanese J8 delegate Yohei Oka said at the 2008 summit.

To learn more about the J8 Summit and read the past J8 Declarations, please visit http://www.j8summit.com/.




26 June 2009: UNICEF correspondent Amy Bennett reports on preparations for the J8 Summit scheduled for 5-12 July 2009 in Rome, parallel to the G8 meeting in L’Aquila, Italy.
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