Around a hundred 16-25 year olds from across Ireland converged on the G8 summit site a month early to put together a shared vision of the top four issues they wanted the G8 leaders to address.
Before they left, the young people attending the G8 Youth Summit presented their ideas to the British Secretary of State, US Consul General, as well as representatives of the NI Assembly, Irish government, the EU and other civic and church leaders.
While the G8 leaders will focus their summit on “Trade, Tax and Transparency”, the youth summit “looked beyond the current economic crisis and acknowledged our world of inequality, starvation, unnecessary death and injustice.”
Through challenging but respectful discussion we agreed on the four most important, critical issues: Equality, Poverty, Health, and Peace.
They expanded upon their four top issues (which are also contained in the video above):
EQUALITY. We want a world where everyone is equal regardless of race, gender, sexual orienttion, religion, ethnicity, age, and ability or disability. Too often the world’s media focuses on difference, creating tension. We want greater commitment from our governments, our media and our societies to seek out and promote common ground in our differences. People should be able to be themselves without fear of prejudice or persecution.
POVERTY. We want to see much greater commitment from our governments to the even distribution of wealth, both locally and globally. All people have a basic human right to adequate food, clean water, shelter and clothing. Education is critical, enabling children to grow and flourish as individuals contributing to their community and their economy. We believe in fair trade to create a world in which justice and sustainable development are at the heart of trade structures and practices, so that everyone through their work can maintain a decent and dignified livelihood and develop their full potential.
HEALTH. We believe in universal health care that is free and accessible to all people around the world. It should not be dependent upon where we live or how much money we have. We want to see greater commitment from our governments to ensure that health care is not seen as a money-making industry, but as a basic human right. It is crucial that mental health should have the same importance as physical health. We want to see greater efforts around the world to provide mental health services and reduce associated stigma.
PEACE. We want all governments to show much greater commitment to negotiation and dialogue as a way of resolving conflict. We want military intervention to be the very last resort and not the first response. We want a world that is free from the threat of nuclear and chemical warfare, meaning all governments will decommission these capabilities. We want greater efforts to resolve long-standing conflicts and liberate child soldiers. We are concerned at the de-humanising of warfare through the use of drones, and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. We want governments to demonstrate greater value for human life, creating a safer world for generations to come.
The communiqué from the young delegates finished:
Now it is up to you. We want you, the leaders of the G8, to listen to us. We want you to see that we care about the world you run, and we want you to do everything in your power to create the world we envision. After all, we are the future, and the future is in your hands.
I wonder how this will compare with the statements that are issued at the close of the G8 adult summit?
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. He delivers social media training/coaching; produces podcasts and radio programmes; is a FactCheckNI director; a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland; and a member of the Corrymeela Community.