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The G8, yes… but the Y8?

There was the usual media attention around the G8 this year; the forum for the governments of eight of the world’s eleven largest national economies. All eyes were on the United Kingdom which was the host of this year’s Summit. However there was little, if any media attention directed at its youthful counter-part: the Y8.

The end of last month saw the Y8 Gala dinner taking place at the Old Royal Naval College’s Painted Hall, Greenwich and bringing with it, a formal close to this year’s Y8 Summit. The summit saw young ambassadors from each respective G8 country eagerly gathering at the University of Greenwich in London, to discuss what they thought to be the hot topics of the global agenda.

Supported by the Youth Diplomatic Services (YDS) in the UK, the Y8 is a great opportunity for young people to put their stamp on international politics, as after a week’s worth of intense deliberation and debate, a Final Communiqué was written and handed to the World’s leaders.

Like the G8 Communiqué, the Y8 write up included recommendations for foreign affairs, such as approaches towards Syria and Libya, tax harmonisation and cyber security. Yet all this was done with one key difference; it was from the perspective of young people.

For us, as students, the most significant recommendations put forward were headed under ‘Youth Employment and Empowerment’. Examples of such recommendations were the encouragement of ‘lower interest rates on student loans’, and generating ‘moral pressure’ on companies to hit a quota for employing ‘under 30’s’ in the workplace.

As for the Gala dinner itself, it was always destined for success. The grandeur of the Painted Hall provided the perfect backdrop for history in the making, as this was the first time that the African Union was invited to send a delegate to the Summit; an indication of the beginning of a new age in global politics.

Other attendees included not only elected delegates from each country, but also members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, alongside 200 of the UK’s own young leaders.

Amongst them was the University of Nottingham’s own Business student, Lawrence Haslam. Invited to the event through his prestigious work at ‘InspirEngage’, Lawrence said that “gaining an insight into international relations has led me to want to go into politics to shape the corporates into more socially responsible organizations”.

Belinda Toor

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