By Zoe Fisher, MUN Impact Diplomat and Executive Team Member
If you asked me a year ago what model UN was I would most likely answer: “a competition between students representing countries in UN bodies, to debate international relations and devise solutions”. If you asked me today, after attending the Model UN Youth Summit at the UN and Model UN Impact Conference, I would give you a completely different response.
MUNers are often so caught up in the competitive aspect of Model UN and the conferences themselves that we fail to see the true purpose of what we are undertaking. Every time we debate in moderated caucuses and negotiate during unmods we are not just completing a “simulation”. The solutions we create have the potential to change lives for the better. The resolutions that we slave over for three days include programs and initiatives that we, ourselves, have the power to implement in society. This is something I didn’t realize until after my time at the MUN Impact Conference. Model UN Impact is a non-governmental organization that strives to inspire participants in Model United Nations to take action for the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite being founded only eighteen months ago, MUN Impact has spread to six continents, connecting thousands of members of the Model UN community in a web of service, action, and collaboration.
At the United Nations MUN Summit I had the privilege of hearing from speakers such as the Secretary General, but what was far more inspiring and impressive were the countless high school and college students who spoke about the actions they’ve already taken in their own communities. I’ve been exposed to the SDGs throughout my four years of MUN, but I always pushed them aside as un-reachable and idealistic dreams. This outlook, I learned, was what was unreasonable- not the SDGs. Whether it was the group of students who started a tampon drive or the two college girls from India who have facilitated the planting of over 80,000 trees as part of “Project Vruksh”, I realized that an ordinary sixteen year-old girl such as myself has the ability to make an extraordinary impact for the SDGs. As I heard my peers speak on the floor of the UN, my pen tried to keep up with the ideas flooding my mind, scribbling them on my go-to MUN legal pad. When I got back to my hotel room that night and looked through my notes, I noticed a shocking similarity. The ideas for projects aimed at addressing the SDGs that I had written on my legal pad reminded me of the solutions I’d scribble during moderated caucuses as I prepared to write a Model UN resolution. In fact, my real-life proposals were exactly the same as what I would advocate for during Model UN simulations.
The next day at the MUN Impact Conference, delegates had the opportunity to take the inspiration from the previous day’s summit and use it to create original solutions to persisting crises. I had the privilege of running the “Planning for Impact” workshop as a member of the Executive Board. During this activity, delegates worked to create a project addressing one SDG. The impressive ideas and initiatives that were brought to the floor blew my mind. But what was more eye opening was watching a Gambian boy living in Qatar working side-by-side a Korean girl living in Taiwan to combat the worldwide hunger crisis. At that moment I finally answered the question: “what is Model UN?”
Model UN is cross-cultural collaboration. Model UN is not just simulating the UN’s work, but being inspired by it and using that inspiration to enact tangible change. MUNers have the knowledge, determination, passion, and creativity to prove those who label the SDGs as “un-realistic” wrong. Why throw away all your hard work at the culmination of a conference? Instead of letting old resolutions collect dust in bottom desk drawers I challenge each and every one of you to pick an idea from a Model UN resolution you wrote and start by implementing it in your local community. Whether it’s encouraging your peers to adopt sustainable practices or simply educating your parents on the SDGs every small action counts. The Model UN community is far wider than a vast network of international conferences. It’s a network of change makers and influencers. So I urge you to redefine what Model UN means to you, and bring your resolutions to life one SDG at a time.
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