Asian youth discuss poverty & peace in Hiroshima
22 September 2004

Hiroshima: Young leaders from some 30 Asia and Pacific countries are gathering for a three-day regional youth summit to discuss how they can work together to tackle urgent challenges facing their region, including poverty, HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation.

The Pan-Asian Youth Leadership Summit is bringing together young parliamentarians, entrepreneurs, academics, civil servants, television and film personalities, representatives of non-governmental organizations and youth groups, activists and development specialists with proven leadership skills who are making a difference in their communities.

The Summit is organized by the United Nations Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Millennium Campaign and Global Peace Initiative of Women in consultation with the United Nations Programme on Youth.

With the theme "Mobilizing the Next Generation for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals", the conference provides a platform for delegates to share ideas and develop and lead projects in their region aimed at achieving the Goals, eight global targets, including cutting poverty and hunger in half, stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensuring that all girls and boys attend primary school, all by 2015.

"This summit is taking place at an important time for Asia, home to 60 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of its young people," said, Masaru Todoroki, Deputy Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia. "While some countries in the region are making significant progress towards achieving the Goals, in areas like life expectancy and literacy, HIV/AIDS and other emerging challenges coupled with persistent problems such as gender inequality threaten to reverse the hard-fought development gains of recent years."

Extreme poverty remains a major challenge in the region which is home to 66 percent of the world’s poorest people.

The second in a series of regional youth gatherings, the Hiroshima meeting follows the Pan-African Youth Leadership Summit during which some 150 young leaders from across Africa met in Dakar, Senegal in June. They signed on as Millennium Development Goal Advocates and promised to use their networks and energies to help their countries fight poverty and push back HIV/AIDS. The plan of action they crafted was presented to more than 40 African Heads of State during the July African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A Pan-American Youth Leadership Summit for Latin America and the Caribbean is being planned for early 2005 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Hiroshima Summit kicks off Asia Pacific 2015 a campaign spearheaded by UNDP to boost on-going efforts to achieve the Goals in the region.

"There is an increasing appreciation within the international community of the important place that youth hold in the future of the planet," said Djibril Diallo, Director of UNDP’s Communications Office of the Administrator. "The Hiroshima Summit is offering the next generation of Asian leaders -- those who will be at the forefront of government, business and many other important sectors in just a few years -- an opportunity to say with a collective voice and through a structure that they will design, how they intend to help their communities and their countries achieve the Goals."

Against this backdrop, Summit delegates will discuss a wide range of topics relevant for Asia and Pacific countries, including the connection between gender equality and HIV/AIDS, the impact of urbanization and deforestation, how to leverage sports and culture to achieve the Goals and literacy and education, especially for women and girls. During the Summit, participants will not only have an opportunity to debate and exchange ideas, they will also develop their own plan of action and establish a permanent network designed to monitor progress and shape future activities. Their discussions will include contributions from selected participants from the Dakar Summit. A highlight of the meeting will be a walk for peace at Hiroshima Square, a global symbol of rebirth after the horrors of war.

For more information, please contact:
In Hiroshima: Cassandra Waldon, cell: (81-80) 55-192-631; Tooraj Akbarlou, cell: (81-90) 3997-1767; in Tokyo: Akiko Fujii, tel: (81-35) 4674751; in Bangkok:Cherie Hart, tel: (662) 288-2133; in New York, Trygve Olfarnes, tel: (1-212) 906-6606

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