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Y7: Youth voices of the G7


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Earlier this month, the G7 Youth Summit (Y7) took place in Tokyo, ahead of the official meeting of World Leaders in Ise-Shima. This meeting saw a handful of young professionals and leaders - from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the USA, Japan and the EU (Cameroon, Norway and Turkey were observers) - come together to create a single, insight-driven document. This document will be used to advise G7 World Leaders on policy development regarding the global issues to be discussed during the G7 meeting.

Japan will host the G7 Summit at the end of this month. It is hoped that this meeting of World Leaders - to which Obama recently confirmed his presence - will symbolise a renewed partnership and commitment by the G7 countries to act symbiotically on pertinent global issues.

International Security, Climate Change, Sustainable Development, Migration and Refugees will be the main topics of conversation, and it is expected that the G7 collective will galvanise an international and coordinated response to such challenges. This will hopefully pave the way for global cohesion on such efforts.

The G7 is undoubtedly geopolitically dated; however, this does not negate from the fact that the countries constituting this group have an arsenal of capabilities and resources to contribute. They can make significant headway on resolving global issues and creating a precedent for international cooperation. Arguably, someone has to take the initial step, and the initial step - if it is to have longevity - is best taken in coordination with other powers, young and old.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made his commitment to youth clear by his self-appointment as Minister for Youth, and other world leaders are now realising the need and importance of youth-led policy development. Not only are younger generations next in line to inherit these global challenges, and therefore have a fundamental right to voice opinion, they are also remarkably capable of giving astute and innovative advice regarding policies and the role of youth-led development in resolving certain issues.

The outcome of the G7 Youth Summit resulted in rather compelling novel ideas, advocating for a change in the current policy ‘status-quo’. The document called for world leaders to ensure safe passage of refugees and recognise that hosting refugees is a ‘public good’, as their skills and experience are a benefit to countries and should be integrated into resettlement-programmes. Another key focal point was investing in research regarding country-specific basic-income and creating a share/ circular economy.

The outcome document recognised the need for educational-reform, and the inadequacies of the G7 countries’ current education system in responding to fast-paced changes in the world were highlighted. Modern-day education must incorporate elements of active citizenship and participation in positive societal-creation through integration. This means reducing gender and educational inequality, encouraging public-private involvement in the education sector to better equip learners for the working world, and preparing the next generations for a labour market that is changing, given technological advances and an ever aging global demographic.

Many may dismiss the Y7 as being a form of whitewash, under which governments feel they have reached the requirement of ‘participatory democracy’; however in a world where more and more ‘young people’ are taking an active role in their societies and holding governments accountable, the role of young people is no longer passive.

Thanks to vast technological advancements and the fortunate position many in the G7 countries find themselves, particularly in regards to access to education, resources, networks and capital, their role is increasingly active and significant.

The G7 World Leaders should not - and hopefully will not - surpass the opportunity to take on board the thoughtful insight resulting from the 3-day Y7 summit.

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