On May 11, just before the heads of state and government of the world’s leading industrialised nations met in Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, 54 girls and boys aged 14 to 18 from the G7 states, some EU Member States and a number of developing countries were at the Federal Chancellery to present their ideas and demands and discuss how to solve the world’s most pressing problems with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Youth Minister Manuela Schwesig. The young delegates of the international J7 Youth Summit have been in Berlin since 7 May to deliberate on effective ways to protect our planet, achieve greater global equality and create opportunities for all children and young people.
“I value the fact that globalisation critics keep putting a finger on what is going wrong. That is why I am meeting with young people to discuss how we can make the world a better place and achieve more,” commented Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel on the occasion of the young delegates’ visit to the Chancellery.
“Today, it’s the young people’s turn to talk. We need to listen to them and involve them in the way we address future challenges,” emphasised Federal Youth Minister Manuela Schwesig. “The lively, in-depth debates at the J7 Youth Summit demonstrate that we need to join forces with the younger generation to do more to ensure more equitable and sustainable development.”
“Young people are much more likely to question circumstances that most adults are too quick to accept”, said astronaut and UNICEF Ambassador Alexander Gerst, who supports the J7 Summit. “Their questions and ideas can help to change perspective. As the destruction of our planet continues, we need to find fresh approaches in many areas.”
The young people at the J7-Summit hope that their voice will be heard on highest political level: “We believe that the G7 play an important role for sustainable development. But I also believe that we the Youth can and must take the initiative to make a difference in the world we live in. We have to choose our own destiny. If we young people don’t raise our voice, standup for our ideals and fight for our rights, who else will? We have to act now”, said Sang Jin Kim (17) from Kassel (Germany), member of the German J7 team.
The young delegates have produced a declaration on the following key issues of the G7:
Protecting our planet
This area focused on protecting the marine environment, specifically water pollution, overfishing and protecting marine biodiversity. Other related aspects included waste reduction, climate change, and the use of renewable energies and new technologies.
Building a healthy future for all
The young delegates had intense discussions on poverty-related diseases that exist due to, e.g., a lack of health awareness and medical care. They focused particularly on diseases such as Ebola, which impact especially on less developed countries. Meanwhile, new health threats are emerging in industrialised nations, such as allergies, diabetes and antibiotic resistance.
Empowerment of women – Building an equitable future for all
Empowering self-employed women and women in vocational training formed the third key issue. The young delegates believe this requires gender equality in the labour market, equal career opportunities and equal pay for equal work. Empowering women also requires a zero-tolerance policy for violence against women. Fighting all forms of violence against women and girls is hence a major task for the future.
Transparent retail and supply chains, fair prices, humane working conditions and the fight against child labour were the main concerns in this subject area. Sustainability, eco-friendliness and climate-friendliness were just as important to the young delegates as the question of how much of the money we pay for a product ends up with those who produced it.
For more information about the J7 Youth Summit click here