Model UN a learning experience for tomorrow’s leaders

Learners from all over Windhoek gathered at the United Nations House last week to discuss climate change.

16 November 2021 | Youth

PULL QUOTE: Sen Pang; “We face a moment of truth – We must act now.”

Iréne-Mari van der Walt

The United Nations (UN) held a Model UN annual general meeting from 9 – 11 November with the topic of climate change up for discussion. More than 60 students from schools all over Windhoek participated in the event, representing various UN member states. Despite the Model UN conference serving as a mere simulation of the COP26 UN conference currently being hosted in Glasgow, Scotland, the UN resident coordinator Sen Pang believes that this is one of many youth initiatives that ensure that the future belongs to capable leaders.

“We host Model United Nations simulations like this for young people to explore the world of international affairs and participate in an experiential learning exercise – providing first-hand insight and understanding on global issues,” he says.

More than just creating leaders, Model UN strives to create responsible global citizens who know how to incite change in their environments. “I believe Model UN is a stepping-stone for young people to take their place in civic engagement as global citizens. Where they learn how to use the power of their voices through advocacy and activism to bring about positive change,” says the resident coordinator.

He stressed the relevance of the theme ‘the role of fossil fuels in climate change’ given the COP26 conference.

“The relevance of your topic today is timely, considering COP26 is under way. COP26 calls for renewed solidarity among nations, and multilateral dialogue is part and parcel to this,” he says.

He reminded the young delegates that no nation will escape the climate crisis unscathed.

“With the exception of the current health crisis, we are indeed in a fight for our species very existence; the climate crisis is beyond critical. This is a defining moment in human history for countries to do more than come together. It is time to take the most urgently needed steps to reduce emissions, mobilise funding and boost adaptation and resilience. Developed economies need to take the lead, but all countries have a crucial role to play, including emerging economies who need to take the extra step,” he says.

Sen Pang is adamant that the future of every nation falls on the shoulders of our youth.

“We face a moment of truth – We must act now.”

Audrin Mathe, the executive director of sport, youth and national service, reiterated Sen Pang’s standing on the importance of the youth in the climate crisis.

“It is said that children are the future, and the youth are the present. Namibia’s youth are the caretakers of tomorrow, so this event is an opportunity for you to start thinking about and critically engaging with each other on matters of nation importance,” he said.

Broken tension

The discussion on climate change reached boiling point as delegates debated their representative countries’ stance on climate change and the role that fossil fuels play in this conundrum. However, the delegates were not too fired up to honour Model UN tradition. Every year, the Model UN conference is wary to be on the receiving end of a prank.

At a previous occasion, young delegates proposed a motion to discuss the importance of saving panda bears in the interest of ‘having cuddly animals’, one delegate proposed.

This year, it was the delegates from the Kingdom of Denmark who took the leap to prank the chairperson of the conference, Helena Kandjumbwa. The delegates, Prince David and Christiaan Prinsloo, proposed a motion to suspend the chairperson for the remainder of the conference due to her supposed underperformance in her role.

“Pranks are tradition but they really had me convinced for a moment. It was such a shock, because we all thought we were doing so well,” Kandjumbwa says.

The two delegates from the Kingdom of Denmark were given the title of best delegation by the end of the conference.

However, the title of best delegate was tied between Egypt representative Moses Fillipus and Yanessa Oliveira of Brazil. Ethiopia representative Vimbayi Musavengana received the special recognition award while Zest Hill, a member of the German delegation, walked away as the best speaker of the conference.

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