Liveblogging: UN Youth Assembly Day 1 – Youth Call To Action

After a somewhat nutty first half, the second half starts with a song! It’s a guy named Nick, who sounds a bit like a Disney singer crossed with Clay Aiken, and it’s about taking the moment to make a difference. This is followed by Dr Noel Brown, former director of UNIP and current president of Friends of the United Nations. Apparently the highest-growing population segment is people over 100, haha. He wishes that the UN would be a familiar place, somewhere we can come by and drop in and get involved. He was at International Youth Day last week and was impressed with their energy and innovation. If you want to engage young people, you need to use more than just text. He felt that it was time the UN had a permanent youth forum – there are various youth programs, but nothing truly genuine and permanent, a partnership between the UN and young people. You can’t escape the past but you must reinvent the future.

Right now the UN needs to make a strong stand and tell the world where it needs to go. Young people can help this. We are the first virtual generation, moving in and our of worlds easily. This panel will help work on documents that will affect the MDGs, by showing the youth’s view on issues. Speaking of which: things are too easily reduced to slogans. It’s not just the words, it’s abou the goals and the values behind them too. We need to take care of the environment, as it’s strongly in distress.

(Note: I’m actually half-sleepy at the moment so if whatever I type doesn’t make sense. Please go easy on me.)

The UN has launched a Day of Tolerance with all sorts of information on the topic. Apparently there are publications about that day too. There’s some talk about tolerance, equity, and responsibility, as well as partnerships. The UN has developed partnerships with non-profits and for-profits, and he hopes it will bring up an intergeneration assembly.

Next up is Amil Husain, who tests our honesty by asking how many have lied in the past. The quiet ones are obviously lying. Ha! Really, he’s in charge of the Youth campaign for the MDGs, and he helps implement campaigns to raise awareness and bring people closer to reaching their goal. He asks about reasons governments weren’t implementing the MDGs, and it’s largely because the governments don’t feel impelled to do so. So the UN Millennium Campaign exists to make people aware of the MDGs. We have enough resources – we just need to redistribute them!

He gives an example of how someone can change policy – by someone going up to their government and asking for a football game. Just one person doesn’t do much, but get a big group and you can make a major difference. Bono even got his fans to call up Tony Blair’s office – 2000+ calls to the office! They had to call back to say “hey, it’s cool that you are anti-poverty, but please stop calling because our secretaries are going crazy!”. He also cites The ONE Campaign as another example of this. Honestly, I’m not sure they realize that in many countries, just gathering people together for an issue can lead you to arrest…

It comes down to political will – politicians keeping their promise. The UN can’t do it alone. If we don’t do this, real people will suffer. It’s not revolutionary to ask that everyone gets education, that everyone can eat…it’s necessary. Possible, but necessary.

Next up is Mathew Wisniewski, talking about Freedom and Development. Another busy bee! Without freedom there is no development, and without development there is no freedom. Even freedom was differently defined in different parts of a country! THis one was kept short because everyone (including me) was getting tired, though there was a bit more than what I’ve typed out.

Now it’s Sarah Leavitt, who’s setting up an organization with young professionals. Her talk is about the environment and how we’re all super-connected. Once again I’m too tired to continue upon this so I’ll take a short rest here.

More talks! Sam Strike about equality and opportunity. Hmm. He’s also created the Youth Manifesto, interesting. Every human being has their own worth – empathy. Again, too tired to continue. This will be a loooooooooong day…

Last person is Evie Taylor, whom I’ve actually bumped into a few times around the UN. She’s talking about equity and solidarity, about how we’re all invested in the world in some way. That concludes the youth panel – might have been better if it wasn’t in the middle of the night, had more interesting presentations, and let us join in the discussions. Oh well.

End of the first day of meetings! There’s a Campaign Night on tonight. Not liveblogging that one, so see you tomorrow!

%d bloggers like this: