AIDS Conference in Vienna
In her role as Special Representative for UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) the Crown Princess has long worked to strengthen youth leadership in the AIDS effort.
The pre-conference meeting on Saturday 17 July will bring together 40 young and more established leaders to discuss further efforts to combat AIDS. Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, will also be participating at the meeting.
Children and young people are the segments of the population most vulnerable to the AIDS epidemic. Some 40% of all new HIV infections worldwide occur in the age group 15-24 years.
Important milestone for youth leadership
For the past two years Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s primary focus has been on securing youth leadership in the AIDS effort. The meeting in Austria’s capital Vienna is an important milestone in the Crown Princess’s endeavours.
Two concrete initiatives designed to strengthen youth leadership are to be launched: the HIV Young Leaders Fund, which will secure funding for youth-led projects and the Youth Mentorship Hub, a mentoring scheme between young and more established leaders working in the field of AIDS, which will be run by UNAIDS.The Crown Princess has played a key role in ensuring that both these initiatives have become a reality.
In addition, an advisory board for Young People Living with HIV (YPLHIV) has been established. All these projects will be presented at the meeting on Saturday afternoon.
Young Leaders Summit in Oslo
The implementation of these initiatives represents the culmination of efforts that were started at the Young Leaders Summit on AIDS in San Francisco in 2008. On that occasion both His Royal Highness The Crown Prince and the Crown Princess were invited by the aids2031 project to participate in discussions on strategies for future AIDS efforts.
In June of the following year the Crown Princess invited 28 young leaders from all over the world to the Young Leaders Summit II at Losby Manor outside Oslo to continue working on specific recommendations in this area. Established leaders from various sectors also participated at the summit as mentors and discussion partners.
Crown Princess Mette-Marit hosted the three-day summit together with Norwegian Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim and the aids2031 project.
Crown Princess Mette-Marit was appointed a UNAIDS Special Representative in April 2006. As part of her AIDS-related work, the Crown Princess has undertaken trips to Nicaragua and Ukraine, and has taken part in international conferences and relevant international working groups.
On Sunday Crown Princess Mette-Marit will participate at the opening of the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna. The conference will last until Friday 23 July and will bring together some 25,000 delegates from all over the world. It is the world’s largest health conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “Rights here, right now”.
On Saturday evening the Crown Princess will be attending a banquet in connection with the conference, held at the Austrian parliament. Barbara Prammer, President of the Austrian National Council is hosting the banquet, at which Ms Prammer herself, the actress Whoopi Goldberg and former US President Bill Clinton are due to speak. Austrian President Heinz Fischer will also be present.
Later on in the evening the Crown Princess will be attending a reception for the Norwegian participants of the AIDS conference. The reception is being held at the Norwegian Embassy in Austria and some 140 guests are expected to attend.