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August 18-23, 2005
Pan-African Youth Leadership Summit II

- Press Release
in PDF.
18 - 23 August 2005

Second Pan-African Youth Leadership Summit in Morocco pledges stronger action for Millennium Development Goals and Endorses Sport for Development and Peace

Ifrane, Morocco, 23 August 2005 - Young men and women leaders from more than 40 African countries unanimously agreed to advance initiatives toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the second Pan-African Youth Leadership Summit in Ifrane, Morocco, 18-23 August. With theme "From Awareness to Action," the Summit endorsed sport as an entry point for mobilizing African youth for practical initiatives, many delegates are working on projects using sport to help reverse the deadly HIV/AIDS epidemic, help at-risk youth and to promote peace and tolerance in areas torn by conflict.

The Ifrane Declaration - "I am very happy that delegates from every African country, embodying the African Union's young leaders, unanimously adopted the Ifrane Declaration at the conclusion of the summit," said Dr. Djibril Diallo, Co-Chair of the summit and Director of the UN New Office of Sport for Development and Peace. They re-committed to the first Pan-African Summit's Dakar Declaration and affirming their commitment to work towards the achievement of the MDGs. The delegates committed to sport as an entry point towards achievement of the MDGs within the framework of the International Year of Sport and Physical Education (IYSPE 2005), and pledged to work towards a future where "Africa controls its resources" and can offer these to aid in building "a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world." The declaration points to several tools to help realize the summit's vision, including sport, improved access to information and communications technology, and partnerships with young leaders from other regions of the world.

The delegates called on governments to create a stronger voice for young people in the decisions and actions that affect their daily lives and futures. They asked governments, the UN system, NGOs, and civil society groups to integrate sport into their development agenda and dedicate more resources to "sport for all" initiatives at home and abroad. The delegates committed to working with their regional chairs, those from other regions and the organizers toward the Global Youth Leadership Summit at the UN in New York in August 2006, and pledged to turn back hunger, poverty, disease, and war and injustice, saying that "patience and steady work" are needed to achieve their vision for the continent.

Leaders of Morocco and Senegal welcome participants - H.M. King Mohammed VI of Morocco hosted the event, held at Al-Akhawayn University, and Prince Moulay Rashid presided at the opening ceremony. "The Summit "offers Morocco a chance to reaffirm its commitment to its African roots, its support for the development of Africa, and its firm belief in South-South cooperation,"said the King in his message to the Summit. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, who hosted the first Pan-African summit, told the delegates: "Tell me what kind of young people you have, and I well tell you the future of your country." Senegal is allocating 40% of its budget to education to promote progress towards the MDGs, and sport is integrated into the curriculum. Adolf Ogi , Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Sport for Development and Peace, conveyed a message from Mr. Annan, telling the young leaders that IYSPE 2005 is an ideal time to raise awareness about using sport to help attain the MDGs.

Working in partnership with Dr. Diallo, the other co-chairs of the summit were: Dr. Driss Guerraoui, Adviser in Office of the Prime Minister of Morocco, and Ms. Dena Merriam, Convenor of the Global Peace Initiative of Women.

The power of sport for the MDGs - In his keynote speech,, Mr. Ogi emphasized the positive role of sport in promoting health, education, development and peace. "Sport, as a universal language offers powerful ways to promote peace, tolerance and understanding, bring people together across boundaries, ethnic groups and religions," he said. He saluted initiatives by sports stars such as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo, who is building a hospital in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and tennis star Roger Federer, spokesperson for IYSPE 2005, who helps South African children attend school. "I am convinced that if the value of development and peace promotion through sport is better recognized, with your support and help, we will achieve a more equal and peaceful world." During the plenary discussion, Leila Barakat of UNDP Morocco introduced their sports initiative to help at-risk youth in Casablanca. Several delegates described sports initiatives. Lansana Mausaray of Liberia, for example, works with a project that holds soccer tournaments among teams from Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone to promote peace, with prize money donated by businesses going for social projects.

Sun Microsystems: using IT to connect and mobilize youth - Sun is a new technology partner for the youth summits, and Sun Chief Researcher John Gage virtually "flew" the delegates around the world with free software during his keynote, demonstrating the power of IT to connect people. But many African countries face obstacles with Internet access, and about half the delegates depend on Internet cafes at sometimes exorbitant prices. It is a challenge to persuade governments and IT providers to cut access prices, he pointed out, since costs have dropped dramatically. Sun has set up a web site for the youth summit series (www.unyouthsummit.org) and will provide mentors to help delegates connect -- including assistance with web access, chat rooms and blogs -- to advance their projects and offer online forums on MDG issues for youth.

Youth projects win awards for excellence - With the emphasis on practical action, delegates submitted descriptions of projects, both underway and planned, to advance progress towards the MDGs. Ten were selected as award winners, ranging from activities to improve water supplies in areas of Morocco to HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in several countries. Several winners are sport-related, including the Rwenzori Sports for Peace Project in western Uganda submitted by Lydia Muchodo that is helping youth turn away from conflicts that threaten the area with assistance from the German Development Service (DED).

Sessions highlight peace building and MDG initiatives - Dena Merriam, convenor of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, held a plenary session on building peace, discussing initiatives in Sudan, Rwanda, Palestine and Israel, Sierra Leone and Somalia. Delegates from Japan presented their perspectives on ways to promote peace.

Delegates also participated in workshops to discuss projects to help achieve the MDGs, including using the contribution of sport and culture. In Bamako, Mali, an annual soccer tournament among schools spreads HIV/AIDS awareness messages, reported Mouhammed Yahya Diallo, and winning teams become ambassadors to schools around the country and also to local imams, asking that they spread warnings about HIV/AIDS. Clement Bwawya from the Youth Associations Organization in Zambia noted that sport is widely used to spread awareness about stemming HIV/AIDS and malaria, as well as the other MDGs. His organization conducts summer soccer camps in rural areas, working with local leaders and also coaches on conveying MDG-related messages. In Madagascar, sport is an important vehicle for reaching out to young people on reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, with the Scouts at the forefront. Similar activities are underway in Togo, reported Tettah A.K. Crédo, where the national football team supports their efforts. Delegates involved in sport-related initiatives agreed to form a group to compile information on sport projects and exchange information and ideas.

For further information, please contact:
Leila Barakat, UNDP Morocco
leila.barakat@undp.org

Karima Zerrou, UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace
karima.zerrou@undp.org

Photos: UN launches International Year of Sport and Physical Education during a November 2004 press conference in New York. L to R: Roger Federer, Adolf Ogi, Kofi Annan, H.E. Ali Hachani, and Margaret Okayo. By UN/DPI.
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