The G8 summit, a gathering of the leaders of the world’s richest nations, gets underway in St. Petersburg’s, Russia July 15th. But in the meantime, the J8 Summit has already begun. The J8, or Junior 8 Summit, represents the world’s youth and is being held in Pushkin, near St. Petersburg. It’s sponsored by the Russian Federation Government and UNICEF, the UN children’s agency.
UNICEF Executive Director Anne Veneman is attending the youth summit. From Pushkin, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
“The J8 is a tremendous opportunity for young people to have a voice in the global discussion about the key issues impacting the world. It is a great opportunity to bring in the voices of youth to allow them to discuss the issues that are on the agenda for the G8 and to give input to the G8 through a joint statement that they will make and present,” she says.
Veneman says the youth delegates will discuss major issues. “They’re discussing key issues such as education and the importance of education. Particularly discussions around education in the developing world where there are still 115 million children that are not in school, who should be in school. They’ll be discussing HIV and AIDS…not only are children being orphaned by HIV and AIDS, but they are also losing teachers and health care workers. They will be talking about protection and tolerance issues, particularly tolerance. What is the effect of discrimination,” she says.
Women’s rights and energy will be other topics of discussion.
Sixty-four youth from G8 countries are in Pushkin. They will be joined in the J8 Summit activities, through teleconferencing, by youth in such places as Johannesburg, Cairo, Mexico City and Bangkok. At the end of the summit, youth delegations will present a statement with recommendations to G8 leaders.