G7 Summit

G7 Youth Summit

Young ideas for the G7

Young people from 19 countries have spoken out and advocated enhanced climate change mitigation, social justice and better access to education for girls. The young people were in Berlin for the J7 summit, and presented their ideas for a better future to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and young people at the Federal Chancellery J7 summit participants in discussion with Chancellor Angela Merkel Source: Bundesregierung/Denzel

They have already been in Berlin for a few days – 54 girls and boys aged between 14 and 18 have been discussing the key issues of next month’s G7 summit. The young people come from the G7 states, and from other EU states and developing countries. They discussed the issues that will be on the agenda of the "adult" G7 summit, from the standpoint of the young generation: climate change, health, gender equality and fair business.

At the Federal Chancellery, they presented the outcome of their consultations to Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Minister for Youth Manuela Schwesig.

The J7 summit was organised by the Federal Ministry for Youth in conjunction with UNICEF. It was designed as a mirror image of the summit meeting of the heads of state and government of G7 states. The young people come not only from G7 states, but also from other EU member states. Young people from Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, Liberia, Zambia, Senegal and South Africa brought the standpoint of developing countries to the discussions.

The demands of young people

Young people from G7 states get actively involved in discussions during their meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery. J7 participants discuss their results with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Minister for Youth Manuela Schwesig. Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

J7 participants called on the G7 states above all to engage more in climate change mitigation and to act for greater social justice. In their eyes this entails giving girls better access to education, fighting child poverty, giving poor people easier access to adequate medical care and improving education systems in developing countries. They also suggested that young people should be regularly involved in problem solving.

"We are convinced that the G7 states play a pivotal part in sustainable development. But we also believe that young people can and must take the initiative to change the world. We must take charge of our own fate," declared Sang Jin Kim, one of the German J7 team, explaining his motivation.

Angela Merkel sees dialogue with youth as important

The Chancellor stressed that dialogue with civil society has become an excellent tradition in the run-up to G7 summits. Everybody makes an effort in their own way to contribute to the matters on the G7 agenda. She was happy to hear the proposals, wishes and ideas of the young people regarding the issues tabled for the forthcoming G7 summit. Right at the start she encouraged participants to "speak their minds".

In her latest video podcast she said she can well understand young people who view the G7 and globalisation critically. She thinks it is right to address sore points without inhibitions and to say openly what has not yet been achieved.

International cooperation on epidemics

Chancellor Angela Merkel and young people at the Federal Chancellery J7 summit participants with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

The young people also called on industrialised states to do more to tackle epidemics such as Ebola. Angela Merkel stressed that the international community intends to do more here. What is needed, she said, is a global "disease response force" that is able to act swiftly to stem epidemics. An international emergency pool of doctors who can be posted at short notice is to be set up, for instance. But the issues of vaccines, drugs transport and so on must also be considered.

In 2017, at a G20 summit an emergency is to be simulated to ascertain how well international coordination will work under such dramatic circumstances, underscored the Chancellor.

At the end of the session Angela Merkel thanked the young people. "You have worked very hard – that is obvious. I am particularly happy that you have summed everything up clearly and succinctly. You haven’t put together some endless document. You have taken a very practice-oriented approach."

The J7 summit is part of a wider dialogue with civil society, within the framework of Germany’s G7 Presidency. Chancellor Angela Merkel has already engaged in dialogue with trade union representatives, representatives of non-governmental organisations and the scientific and research community in G7 states. More meetings are planned with representatives of the business community, and with women in industry, research and civil society.

Monday, 11 May 2015