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Young leaders from around the world convene at Junior 8 Summit

As world leaders meet, young people prepare recommendations

CHITOSE CITY, HOKKAIDO, JAPAN/ GENEVA, 2 July 2008  - In a few hours, young people from G8 countries and the developing world will open the fourth annual  “Junior 8” Summit in Chitose City, Japan. With an agenda that parallels the G8 itself, they will have the opportunity to share their views directly with the world’s leaders when the G8 convenes in Toyako, Hokkaido Japan on July 7.
Thirty-nine young people representing the G8 countries and the developing world will come together for the week-long forum to debate three main themes: climate change; child survival, infectious diseases and HIV and AIDS; and poverty and development, with a particular focus on Africa. The website is http://www.j8summit.com/
This year the young people have prepared and connected using a raft of social networking tools including the mdialog video sharing platform.  These same connectors will empower them to continue their work in the follow up to the J8 as they urge their government leaders to hold to their promises.  See some of the young people’s work at: http://www.mdialog.com/video/show/9932-we-want-your-videos--ask-world-leaders-

The young people will produce a communiqué that will lay out their recommendations to the G8 leaders, to be released on the 7th of July.
Hosted by the Japanese government, the participants will have a singular opportunity to voice their ideas.  “UNICEF believes that children are at the very centre of progress and development,” said Ms. Anupama Rao Singh, Regional Director of East Asia and the Pacific.  “The G8 presents a unique opportunity for them to let their voices be heard.”

An initiative launched four years ago by UNICEF to strengthen the voice of children and young people around the world, the Junior 8, or J8, aims to enhance their ability to influence decisions at the G8 level that affect children worldwide. In addition to enabling these young ambassadors to present their views to world leaders, the J8 also seeks to foster a global youth movement around G8 issues by enabling young people to convene and discuss key global issues.
This marks the fourth Junior 8 Summit. Previous J8 Summits have taken place in Gleneagles, UK; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Wismar, Germany.
“Junior 8 Summits have not only succeeded in allowing the voices of young people to be heard at the highest levels of government, but they have fostered stronger ties among young people around the world,” said Singh.
The J8 summits have also succeeded in breaking down the barrier between global issues and children’s concerns.  Many of the themes topping the G8 agenda – such as climate change, global health issues, such as HIV/AIDS, and development in Africa – are issues that affect children acutely.
Take, for example, climate change.   Every child in the world is facing a future that may be profoundly affected by choices that world leaders make today around the environment.

Another critical topic is HIV and AIDS – a prominent theme in the J8 debate. Worldwide, an estimated 2.3 million children under the age of 15 were living with HIV in 2006, while millions more have lost one or both parents to the virus.  And unless current trends are reversed, more and more young people will be affected by the virus. At present, most of the new cases of HIV/AIDS registered each year are caused by transmission of the virus during childbirth by HIV-positive mothers.
The participants include teams of four young people e aged 13-17 from each of the G8 member countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, UK and USA. An additional seven J8 delegates from developing countries representing regions throughout the world were selected to participate by UNICEF staff based on their involvement in projects and
programmes related to the main themes of the G8 Summit.
All of the J8 participants will travel to Japan for the opening of the G8, nine of whom, (8 from each of the G8 country, and one from the other countries) will be selected to present their views to world leaders gathered for the summit.
About J8
Junior 8 (J8) is the youth event linked to the G8 Summit and organized by UNICEF.  J8 aims to advance young people’s understanding of global issues and to provide a platform for them to discuss and advocate on these issues with some of the most powerful leaders in the world.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

Attention broadcasters:  Several video news packages will be produced on site and will be available at www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef

For further information, please contact:
Japan:   Erica Kochi, + 81 80-2051-3064  ekochi@unicef.org
New York:  Kate Donovan, +1 917 378 2128 kdonovan@unicef.org
Geneva:  Miranda Eeles, +41 22 909 5716 meeles@unicef.org




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