Saturday, October 30, 1999

World youth congress
lists priorities

By Treena Shapiro


Education. Environment. Human rights. Peace.

These ranked among the top global priorities identified by delegates and activists attending the Millennium Young People's Congress in Honolulu this week.

The congress, representing 103 nations, concluded yesterday -- not with closure, but with a call to action.

"The youth of today have decided. We have our priorities. We have our solutions. All we have left is to act," said Ishaam Nangia, 16, an Australian delegate speaking on behalf of small island nations.

The 1,000 young people identified education as the most essential priority in the coming millennium. Others were environment, human rights, peace, health, population, poverty, corruption, economy and democracy.

By April, a millennial action fund will be established to implement youth-led solutions to the world's problems. Action plans include creating a traveling school for street children in Indonesia, and tutoring services in Taiwan for children whose schools were destroyed in last month's earthquake.

Agather Mgweno, a 21-year-old activist from Tanzania, saw education as an all-encompassing priority. "Most of the people in my country are ignorant," she said. "I will educate them."

Through education, Mgweno believes her people can find solutions to other priorities.

Six youth editors -- representing Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and small island nations -- will remain in Hawaii for another two weeks to put together "Rescue Mission 2000," a book detailing the priorities determined by the congress and encouraging each country to develop an action plan.

Each delegate will receive a copy of the book to present to their heads of state.

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