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CHILDREN AT THE CENTRE

A delegation of 64 adolescents from the G8 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States – descended upon St. Petersburg (Russian Federation) in July 2006. For nearly two weeks, they grappled with pressing issues – education, HIV/AIDS, energy and tolerance. Nearby, leaders from the G8 countries also debated these topics.

On 16 July, Junior 8 (J8) delegates addressed world leaders at a G8 Summit for the first time, bringing to the table their suggestions for building a future of hope and peace. Their proposals, informed by young people from developing countries who had gathered at videoconferences in Bangkok, Cairo, Johannesburg and Mexico City, called for equal access to free, quality education, immediate action for children and young people affected by HIV/AIDS, urgent measures to protect the environment, and an end to violence and discrimination. The idealistic, energized teens devised specific projects that could bring their goals to fruition. They dismissed ethereal visions and instead called for concrete action and accountability.

This historic meeting, supported by the Morgan Stanley International Foundation and UNICE , is emblematic of the way forward, where young people are key development partners and children are at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals. It also mirrors UNICEF’s blueprint for achieving the promise of the Millennium Declaration.

As this annual report demonstrates, the road to achieving the Millennium Development Goals is strewn with obstacles – intractable poverty, ingrained gender discrimination, a paucity of basic sanitation and safe water, rampant disease and generations of illiteracy. But the review of 2006 also illustrates how steadfast determination, strong partnerships, smart investment and precise accountability carve out impressive inroads and models for sustainable development.

CHILDREN AND THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

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