Top Policy Recommendations Put Forth by Students from Developed & Developing Countries at U8 Summit

Students, professionals call on mainstream media to include voice of developing countries.

West Midlands, United Kingdom, March 12, 2007 --( The 2nd Annual U8 Summit at Warwick University this weekend marked a groundbreaking global movement of students from rich and poor countries who are serious about how development policies directly affect them and are dissatisfied with previous exclusion of poor countries.

“We do believe that our participation in this organization will contribute to the student partnership as well as to the economies of member countries,” said Guzel Elebaeva at the Kyrgyzstan National University.

Already, the students have the “ear of the president” with top world leaders expressing support of the U8 and engagement with figures such as Al Gore, David Cameron’s Globalisation and Global Poverty group, Jeffrey Sachs, Myles Wickstead, the former Ambassador to Ethiopia and head of Blair’s Commission for Africa, DfiD, as well as Foreign Ministries and embassies of over 20 countries.

This was also a poignant scene at the U8 Summit Speaker event where the Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan made a guest appearance.

Ms Liliana Fernandez Puentes, Ambassador of Panama stated on the U8, “Panama strongly believes in the importance of strengthening international links and partnerships between universities.”

Modeled in contrast to the G8, the U8 seeks to set the pace and include all countries in informing policy makers, sharing ideas, making voices heard, and bridging the gap between research and policy on development issues.

Throughout the weekend, the 150 students representatives from top universities around the world met in closed meetings and round table discussions to propose recommendations to policy makers, and consolidate research on major social economic and political issues affecting developing countries. These included conflict, trade, education, access to healthcare, basic services, inequality, and climate change.

“We are all talking about poverty, but this is a misdiagnosis of the problem,” said Professor Paul Collier at Oxford, and Senior Advisor to Blair’s Commission on Africa.

With enthusiasm and the belief that they can be the change from where they are the students set out to deconstruct paradigms, exchange ideas, and work together to find common ground.

“There is a great need to allow developing countries to take responsibility and ownership of their own development agenda,” said delegates from the Trade working group.

Kagwe Njoroge a student from Kenya in his Conflict working group outlined how the media plays a vital role in influencing knowledge and voice of those involved.

“This is one of the most professional and high level of conferences that I have seen put on by youth” said Bremley Lyngdoh, Co-founder from the Global Youth Action Network. “It disappoints me that I did not see one member of the press here.”

The Summit did however, receive four radio debuts including BBC World Service, and the U8 praises the radio coverage. It hopes that the students themselves who have spent tireless months researching and dialoguing online will be taken seriously, and not put on the backburner by the very gatekeepers who can help bring awareness to the issues.

The outcome document from the 10 working groups that set the framework for the Summit, as chosen by their year long consultation process, will be released later next week.

Prior to the summit, the students had been researching, holding debates at their respective universities, meeting with key policy makers and influential leaders, and blogging online on the U8 website:

The Summit does not conclude this process, and the students will continue to widen the dialogue, twin with more countries, and engage with policy makers. The conclusions will be used as a reference point and critique by wider civil society and as a foundation for next year’s student researchers to build upon and deepen their understanding.

“Now that we have these recommendations that take in the view of every sector, future U8 researchers can build upon and consolidate these policy recommendations to produce realizable solutions,” says U8 co-President Mark Koller.

Next year the consultation process will expand with Association of Commonwealth Universities, Peace Child International, and Global Youth Action Network among others. Members from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have already invited the U8 members to deliver their outcomes document in a formal meeting.

“I believe U8 can still make Africa smile now and tomorrow, having U8 we can influence policy especially as a woman of Africa,” said Senayt Habtu at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

Although students from Addis Abba University in Ethiopia were denied visa entry, which the U8 Executive Committee are investigating the reasons for refusals and seeking legal advice, their research from the online forum was included in the outcomes document.

“The U8 is fundamentally about inclusion and an equal right to a say in discussions of policies that affect developing countries, and we would like to express our regret that the British authorities in Ethiopia have prevented this from being possible,” said U8 Co-Presidents Mark Koller from Cambridge and James Clarke at Warwick.

Ting Lau at Cambridge of the Global Healthcare group stated that the Ethiopian students had been invaluable in their contribution in the online forums and she was very disappointed not to engage face to face with students from Addis Abba University.

At the speaker event, entitled “To what extent do developing countries have a say in the policies that affect them,” Dr Kingsley Moghalu from the Global Fund highlighted the distinguishing question of youth, as it was the first time he had ever been to a conference with this title in the last 15 years of working for the UN.

“The reality is there is no voice,” he said. “The second reality is not to treat the developing countries as monolithic voice.”

Salil Shetty from the UN Millennium Campaign stated, “The year 2015 for young people is their future.”

“The U8 disproves the myth that students don’t care about political and social issues,” Shetty remarked. He urged the students present to recognize the importance of what happens after the U8.

Fatma Zaki from Cairo University a Politics student added, “The importance of cooperation such as the U8 lies in comprehending the views of youth in different cultures on development, and creating a liaison between them and the decision makers in their countries.”

The U8 currently includes members from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, LSE, Northwestern, Warwick as well as universities in Nepal, India, Kyrgyzstan, Ethiopia, Mexico, Egypt, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, France and Germany. It has a presence in 50 universities in over 60 countries. Moreover, it is wholly independent, non-partisan, and student-led with a growing and open organization.
Contact Lauren Newell on GB +44  7794418972  Call  /+44 (0) 247 646 3241 or email
Lauren Newell
+1 202 609 8302 (US)
Contact Lauren Newell on GB +44 (0) 7794418972 Call +44 (0) 247 646 3241

Mark Koller 07966227936
James Clarke 07809466353