So after an action packed morning, time for some food I think using our very exciting United Nations food pass! Ate in the wonderful Riverview cafe with surprisingly a view of the river….never have guessed huh. During the time we had over lunch we visited the United Nations shops (yeah there is more than one). Picked up some bits and bobs and most importantly visited the post office. Sounds a little strange but as the United Nations Headquarters is on international land you can send post from there as if it was a different country. You can also get your passport stamped with a United Nations logo on it and everything!
In the afternoon the conferences started. Each conference was an hour and 15 minutes in a large conference room with microphones. Very exciting. So it was decision time. Whcih conferences to pick?
My first conference was titled Reaching Higher Heights: The SDGs and Higher Education. This conference was led by Liz Moyer who is the Project Manager of SDSN (Sustainable Development Solution Network). The SDSN was set up by Ban Ki Moon (the last United Nations Secretary General) and was formed to do the initial research about what the Sustainable Development Goals should be and now about how to implement the Sustainable Development Goals within in the world. This session was looking at Goal 4-Quality Education. There is a huge divide between the education levels between rich and poor as well as the rural and urban areas throughout the world. The SDSN tries to combat that issue by creating The Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform and well as the SDG Academy. The first of the two, The Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform, is a cracking website that explains each goals, the progress that has been made and what has yet to be achieved. It also has loads of of UN information on it as well as resources for every topic you could possibly think of. Well worth a visit. This is allowing more people to become educated about the Sustainable Development Goals in a way that is accessible to a larger percentage of the population. The second, the SDG Academy, is a collection of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that are focused around some of the Sustainable Development Goals mainly for graduate and masters level. Hence the name of the conference “Reaching Higher Heights”-getting the knowledge to reach higher up the education ladder. The SDG Academy is proving rather successful in its starting few months with 125,000 people in 170 counties enrolling for video tutorials, online lectures and practical quizzes in the hope people become part of the solution to help saving the world. With 1 million people predicted have been a part of the SGD Academy network in the next 10 years it it very exciting and a new way of inspiring the high achievers of society. With 15 million users of the internet in Sub Saharan Africa alone the possibility in rather enormous. Can’t wait to see what it brings!
Liz also spoke about the interconnection between all the goals like many other speakers did in the opening session, showing how important it is that all the goals move forward together. She finished with two questions that we answered as small groups and then shared back with the rest of the conference and every group was clapped. A very respectful atmosphere indeed. The first was “Explain what the Sustainable Development Goals are without using jargon” and the second “Why should I care about the Sustainable Development Goals?” Our groups answers. 1. Targets that governments have agreed to meet by 2030, that focus on improving nearly every problem of the world-to be carried out by all people, everywhere. 2. Because they impact everyone as we all live on one planet and one planet only-Earth. Think that says it all.
The second conference that I choose was called Cities and Climate Change: Youth in Action lead by a group of panelist all from the UN Habitat group some youth and some leaders. In 2016 60% of the world population either live or work in cities so starting to make them environmentally friendly and consuming responsibly seems like a good place to start does it not. The panel briefly introduced themselves to everyone and then asked for questions. A key theme through out all the responses that quiet frankly inter-generational partnership are totally necessary to allow new innovations and methods to be fully successful. A good way to allow this method to blossom is to first ensure people understand the issues and let them connect in a way they understand. So not just making climate change about science. Making it about art, nature and drama so then we can move forward together with a population that is ready for change. Hippie I know but progress needs to happen people. Climate change although a huge issue,with 20 million people have now displaced by climate change, we should do our best to not let it become a monster and within each community allow little changes to take place resulting in large scale change from the people rather than governments.
The most exciting part of this conference was little me yes Alison Greaves asked a question that went something like “People, young people, all across the world are doing amazing and awe inspiring things within their own communities that are helping the planet fight climate change but there also people like you guys (directed at youth leaders working across the UN in the fight against climate change) who lead the way for youth in climate action and make large scale decision. Which role do you think is most important and how do you ensure that all these people are inspired whether working in their community or getting involved in the bigger politics of it all? ” The response was unanimously yes, that both the people working on a small scale and large scale solutions both carry the responsibility but more importantly the people present in this room (conference room) have the power to inspire both groups of people and to change the world in doing so. Challenge accepted I think!
To finish of perhaps the most exciting day of my life, we headed to Napels 45 for tea. Super tasty and had great chats about our array of different cultures and countries.
The evening was finished with a UN Gala. Music, dancing, rapping of course the United Nations band….. Yes they have a band! Surprise to me too. But just another way to reach more people I suppose. Was such a great laugh and got to know so of my fellow delegates ever more too!
Just to make sure people know. I am home and in between working and preparing for University and my next adventure to Tanzania on Saturday I am catching up with my blog. Hope you are enjoying! Still on top of the world and my massive smile is as always ear to ear.
Picture: “Woahhhhh the UN flag let me pose let me pose!” In my element! United Nations Headquarters, New York. 2017