By Beakal Fasil
BERLIN, GERMANY – The J 7 Summit 2015 is an opportunity for 50 young people from all over the world to come together to discuss and express their ideas on the most pressing issues for the upcoming G7 negotiations in June. I was one of the lucky ones to have the privilege of participating in this summit as the Ethiopia representative during my internship at UNICEF Ethiopia. Topics such as: protecting our planet (protection of the marine and resource efficiency); building a healthy future for all (antibiotic resistance and fighting pandemics, neglected and poverty related diseases); empowering women and girls (empowering women in self-employment and vocational training); fair economy (retail and supply chain standards) and ACT NOW (youth involvement) were discussed in detail.
In relation to the issue of neglected and poverty related diseases, suggestions were made with an objective of eradicating poverty related diseases. Creating public awareness was one of the suggestions put forward. With this, there should be an increase in public education as well as in funding. These donations can purchase vaccinations and fund infrastructural solutions. Other suggestions by the youth of the world include increasing pharmaceutical research and developing new drugs, providing education for all and creating an organization with the explicit goal of eradicating neglected diseases.
After presenting our papers to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, we had a lively discussion, during which she stated that leaders of developed countries should also help and work with developing countries to eradicate poverty related diseases once and for all. The Chancellor also mentioned that everyone has a right to a full and healthy life, regardless of where they come from. Chancellor Angela Merkel was very impressed with the suggestions we made and acknowledged that the whole point of the J7 Summit was to include youth in decision making.
We also had the opportunity of going to all G7 countries embassies and the European Union to present our position papers so as to enable us to work together and see what can be done to involve more youth. One way of doing this was to make use of different social media interfaces such as Facebook and Twitter to better keep in contact, involve other youth to take part and spread our position papers to the rest of the world. We, the youth, have also promised to follow up on the G7 Summit and see if our suggestions have been included.
But the J7 Summit wasn’t only about work; it was also a chance for us to see historical places in Berlin such as Brandenburg Gate and the Wall of Berlin. We had the pleasure of listening to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and took part in different sport activities to keep ourselves active and refreshed. Personally, this experience has been an unforgettable journey. It gives me so much hope to see so many people and organizations willing to listen and work with the youth.
I am grateful to UNICEF Ethiopia for choosing me to represent my country at the summit.