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Italy: J8 summit, youth speak out

A group of youth from various countries around the world met up recently in the Italian capital to participate in the Junior 8 Summit, a week-long conference for young people to exchange ideas and opinions on ways to improve global conditions for young people. Today they will present their recommendations to the G-8 leaders.

Today a group of selected youth will personally present their agreed recommendations to the World leaders of the G8 Summit, which also takes place this year in Italy.

Last Sunday the youth summit opened officially with a press conference chaired by a former Junior 8 Summit participant Lorenzo Casullo from Italy. The panel included several senior officials of the Italian Government, as well as representatives of UNICEF and four young Italians.

The closing speech of the conference was made by another ex-participant of the J-8 Brazilian Fernanda Winter, who stated: *“We hope that the policymakers and world leaders will take on the commitment of listening to us and ensure that these important spaces, like the J-8, will continue to exist.”*

The Junior 8 runs parallel to the G8. This year 54 young people will participate representing the G-8 countries – Italy Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, UK and the USA – as well as other non-G8 nations Brazil, China , Egypt, India, Mexico and South Africa.

The young leaders began their activities this past weekend in front of Rome’s Colosseum standing before a giant paper-mâché ear they had made to encourage G8 leaders to listen to the voices of the youth. As tourists and people of the city of Rome passed by, the young people wrote down letters of advice to the world leaders they will soon meet. They formed a line and, one by one, deposited their slips of paper into the giant ear.

The next day, the young people got to work and quickly began to passionately discuss what needs to happen to improve living conditions around the world.

*“By stating our rights, we, as the J8 community – from different nations – have to realize that we all have the same rights and that we are all equal”*, said Richmond Mahlubandile Sajini, from South America.

The J8 participants are spending most of their time ahead of the meeting with world leaders working on policy recommendations about climate change, development in Africa, the global economic crisis and quality education.

With millions of children under the age of five dying each year from largely preventable causes, their recommendations may have an important impact. As they move towards their final decisions, the youth delegates are thinking big.

*“If human kind was able to put a man on the moon, it should be able to solve the humanitarian problems we face”*, said Daniel Morales, 15, of the United States.

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