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October 30, 2010

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Leaders see hope in youth

SHANGHAI Mayor Han Zheng and Secretary-General of the Bureau of International Exhibitions Vicente Loscertales told participants at a youth summit at the World Expo yesterday that they are the world's most valuable resource.

More than 500 young people representing Expo exhibitors, international youth organizations and their Chinese counterparts gathered yesterday for the 2010 Shanghai China Youth Summit.

"Youth are the world's most valuable resource," Loscertales said at the forum.

His remarks were echoed by Han, who said he was counting on the creativity of young people to address urban development challenges such as pollution, traffic jams and resource shortages.

"There is hope for the future because of the courageousness and innovative spirit of young people," Han said. "I believe your extensive and in-depth exchange of ideas will help create a better city with more sustainable development."

Summit participants issued a Youth Initiative titled "For the Future, Together!" It calls for the world's youth to work for urban harmony, low-carbon lifestyles and innovation.

China has made great progress in urbanization in the past three decades. In 1979, nearly 20 percent of the population lived in cities, but the number had increased to 46.6 percent, or 620 million people, as of the end of last year. About 75 percent of the population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050.

However, young people face mounting pressure in terms of education, employment and affordable housing in cities. If these problems are not addressed, it can lead to more crime and many social problems, according to the Communist Youth League of China, organizer of the form.

"Young people in China have low salaries, a low participation rate in politics and a low sense of belonging to the urban culture," said Lu Yongzheng, an official with the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China. "These problems prevent them from integrating into the urban society."

Urbanization challenges are shared among many countries and the forum called on the world's youth to strive for harmonious, open, sustainable and ideal cities.

Youth Initiative (excerpt):

"Let's actively spread and practice the concept of sustainable development, and jointly protect our planet.

"Let's strive to promote understanding and dialogue between different civilizations, and jointly initiate an era of open and inclusive world culture."


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