Over the course of the Term 2 holidays, I had the great honour of taking part in the United Nations National Youth Conference. Prior to this in term 2, IGS hosted the state UN youth conference in the Bibliothèque inviting a diverse cast of empowered young people from around the state to participate in workshops, simulated crises and mock UN’s to build leadership skills and knowledge on global issues.
I am very grateful to have been selected by the school to partake in the State conference, where I met some incredible people and learnt valuable skills. It was from there that 10 delegates from each state were selected by UN Youth NSW to attend the National Youth Conference.
Despite being run entirely over Zoom it was still surprisingly connected with plenty of opportunities to collaborate with other delegates on projects and real-world problem-solving scenarios. The whole 4 day-long conference had a focus on environmentalism and how climate issues are impacting different Countries and people all around the globe.
We listened to young leaders from around Australia talk about the programs that they’re either a part of or have initiated themselves to help make Australian society more environmentally driven.
It was immensely inspiring and empowering to see people close to my age making an actual difference in our society and seeing their personal qualities which make them such influential leaders.
From there we had several debates and workshops where we learnt about and discussed the varying impacts of climate change on different nations throughout the world taking close looks at unique issues, such as the pros and cons around creating artificial islands for island nations that are sinking due to climate change.
In the latter days, we got a chance to perform leadership activities ourselves with simulated crises which required large group collaboration and efficient communication to solve the issue at hand. This is when we were able to put in place all the information we had learnt over the week and really step into roles of responsibility with our facilitators giving us the wheel and letting us decide the outcome of the crisis.
We, the NSW group working as the opposition government of Brazil ultimately “won” the situation through quick communication and clear goals with the tight-knit group of friends we made over the course of the State Conference and National Conference.
Being an IGS student with a global outlook prepared me quite well for the experience. I am currently undertaking the year 12 Aboriginal studies course by compression completing years 11 and 12 in the span of about 10 months.
One day of the conference was purely focused on the sustainability of Aboriginal land management practices. We looked at how initiatives that developed in co-design by Aboriginal communities and the government which draw upon Aboriginal epistemology and cultural knowledge can be effectively employed in a modern era to both make Australia a more sustainable country but also combat the historic dismissal of Aboriginal land management practices to promote the social, cultural and political lives of Aboriginal communities around Australia.
My prior knowledge from learning from the brilliant Ms Carr allowed me to be 100 per cent involved in the activities and contribute to meaningful discussions with young delegates from around the country.
My favourite part of the experience was also the most challenging. The nationwide “mock UN” saw extremely talented delegates from across the country partake in a massive debate on the matter of the global sand trade.
It started off a bit convoluted with some states being in lockdown participating on zoom and some states participating in person but once we all found our footing the fireworks started flying for a mock UN which lasted well over two hours.
This was definitely the most memorable moment of the conference as it really demonstrated the power of a closely interconnected community with the technical issues and confusions not stopping the delegates from around the country from giving their all and the assistance we all provided to each other by supporting ideas and engaging in civil debates when we had conflicting ideas or proposals.
The experience as a whole really developed my understanding of global issues and has made me think about how I can advocate for change in my career in the future. I want to go into film writing/directing as I believe it is an effective way to communicate messages to a wide audience whilst also entertaining and uniting people through comedy and universal storytelling. This experience has only made me more committed to my goals and determined to work to my full potential.
While the School decides who gets to partake in the State conference where you get selected for the National Conference, I would highly recommend that people in the IGS community get involved in any number of the other opportunities which Youth UN NSW have available.
Their website and Instagram are the two quickest ways to gain access to these incredible opportunities along with being an active member of the IGS community to have your opportunity to represent the school at upcoming annual state conferences.
I am extremely grateful for the amazing opportunity and I look forward to the opportunity to implement my new learnings into the IGS community.
IGS student and NSW Youth UN national delegate 2021