Just over a week ago, selected youth from G8 and G20 countries met in London in the context of the Youth G8 Summit (known as the Y8). Increasing in popularity, this forum enables youth representatives to discuss issues they deem pressing on the world stage.
The 2013 edition of the Y8 was hosted at the Old Naval College (University of Greenwich) in London, only one week after the Heads of State of the G8 countries met in Northern Ireland as part of their annual meeting. Y8 Summits enable selected individuals from respective countries to negotiate solutions to problems they themselves consider important to the social, economic, and political dimensions of international relations. The Summit features formal and informal negotiations.
Attending youth ministers are selected for six different panels: Heads of State, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Defence, Environment, and International Cooperation. Throughout the week, Ministers meet with their counterparts of other G8 countries (this year G20 nations were also invited to the table). Throughout the Summit, Ministers are supported by their national Sherpa and Press Secretary, who facilitate communications within delegation and enrich the overall experience through various media of coverage (see end of article for Summit Recaps).
Perspective of a MUNer:
I was honoured with the opportunity to represent Canada as the Minister of Defence at this year’s Y8 Summit. As a very active delegate on the North American Model UN circuit, I could not help but draw comparisons between the two platforms. At their core, MUN and Y8 are built on deep interest of international relations. All participants take to heart the topics they discuss; the motivation is where roads diverge.
Within the context of Y8 Summits, Ministers represent their own countries and are further encouraged to integrate their own take on the topics at hand: the policies they support are not always those of their current governments but more so their own. Prior to the Summit, Ministers are invited to weight in on the topics they wish to negotiate in London. Thus, unlike Model UN, participants influence the direction discussions take, with no third parties (or crisis team) influencing it.
Yet the most obvious and important difference between Y8 and Model UN lies is the way decisions are taken. Y8 Summits motivate participation intrinsically, through pure desire for change and global solutions; Model UN awards and gavels tend to drive delegates involvement extrinsically. Y8 solutions are generated through consensus; thus cooperation is genuine and negotiations not as competitive.
The Final Communiqué
Weeks of research and negotiations culminated on June 27th, where all ministerial cabinets finalized their policy proposals. The Final Communiqué was signed by the Heads of State on June 28th at the majestic Painted Hall in Greenwich, where the ministers and the organizing committee celebrated the closing of the 2013 negotiations.
The Final Communiqué will be submitted to the various leaders of G8 and G20 nations, with the aim of providing fresh perspectives through the lens of younger generations. In the context of the Y8 Summit, youth ministers look forward to sitting down with representatives of their own governments to discuss points brought up in London.
On behalf of all Y8 delegates, I’d like to extend a big Thank You to the Organizing Committee of the UK’s Youth Diplomatic Service.
For further insight into the Y8 Summit:
[VIDEOS] provided by Colin Waugh, Canadian Press Secretary