Y7 interview with Evie Aspinall

by Amy Wilson

The youth engagement group for the Group of 7 (United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, and Japan) is known as Youth 7 (Y7) [1]. In this interview with Evie Aspinall, we expand on ClimaTalk’s introductory Y7 article and delved into a little more detail about what happens during a Y7 Summit. 

Evie Aspinall is the Head UK Delegate to the G7 Youth Summit and is a researcher at The British Foreign Policy Group. Her role as the Head UK Delegate at Y7 involves working closely with ministers, civil servants and young people across the G7 to ensure young people’s voices are heard within G7 negotiations.

ClimaTalk asked Evie a series of questions to understand what happens during the Y7 Summit, how the outcomes feed into the G7 summit and how to be considered for a future Y7 Summit:

Evie, when/how did the Y7 start? And what is the summit’s main purpose? 

The Youth 7 began several years ago and is one of six official G7 Engagement groups. The summit is an opportunity for youth delegates from across the G7 nations to come together and agree on the changes young people across the G7 would like to see. However, it is not just a summit. The summit is the culmination of months of national consultation and post-summit there is a significant amount of advocacy work to be done to make our visions a reality.

Who organises the Y7 summit? When does it normally take place?

The Y7 summit is hosted by a youth organisation in the G7’s host country and normally occurs around a month before the summit itself.

How is the Y7 structured? What happens during the event? 

The summit itself varies year to year, its normally a five-day event including a few days of negotiations and then a few public summit days. This year it was divided in two with the negotiations happening in advance and then two public summit days which anyone can attend. On the public days there is a formal presentation of the communique to G7 leaders, panels and speeches from delegates and some brilliant guest speakers.

Who can attend the Y7? 

Delegates are selected based on their skills and commitment to youth advocacy but anyone can attend the public days of the summit.

Can you explain what the Head Delegate role is?

The Head Delegate is in charge of leading their country’s delegation, supporting their country’s delegates to be as effective advocates as possible. They also have the final say when negotiations get stuck and help guide final decision-making.

What are the topic specific delegates (4 attendees per country)?

Each country has 4 delegates – including a Head Delegate and three other delegates. Each delegate is assigned a track and negotiate with other delegates from across the G7 in their thematic area. These four themes are then brought together in the final communique.

How do you get chosen to be a youth leader at Y7 and how are they elected? 

Y7 delegates are selected by designated youth organisations in their country and the process varies between nations. For the UK we had to do a written application and then two rounds of interviews to be selected.

What are the usual outcomes of the Y7? 

The Y7 produces a communique outlining youth priorities for the G7 which it then advocates on at the G7 and also in their country’s as well.

Broadly speaking, how do the outcomes of Y7 contribute/influence the G7 summit? 

It really depends. But this year we had meetings with the G7 sherpas, multiple government officials, including two meetings with the Prime Minister which we used as opportunities to advocate on behalf of young people. It’s hard to measure the outcomes as its about achieving long term change and getting new issues on the agenda but there are lines in this years’ G7 communique that come from youth campaigning.

What, in your opinion, were the most significant Y7 outcomes in 2021? And how do you hope they will impact policy? 

This year we’ve had unprecedented access with government officials and I think long term this is the key. We have established ourselves as a legitimate voice within the G7 and that will allow future Y7s to campaign effectively.

What, to date, do you think have been the Y7’s most successful achievements and contributions to G7? And the wider climate policy agenda? 

This year we pushed really hard to get mental health on the G7 communique and it eventually it was and the Prime Minister confirmed this was a direct result of our campaigning. We now want to see that followed up with concrete policymaking and financial commitments.

Featured image courtesy of the G7 UK 2021 Flickr account.

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