WorldMUN: Students meet in Melbourne to spark global change

STUDENTS from around the world came together at the World Model United Nations Conference in Melbourne last week to find solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Sandra Qian reports.

More than 2000 university students gathered in Melbourne last week for the world’s most diverse youth summit, the World Model United Nations Conference (WorldMUN).

The travelling conference was co-hosted for the first time in Australia by students from Monash and RMIT universities over the course of five days from March 18-22 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A simulation of the United Nations, WorldMUN gives students the chance to work together with like-minded peers and find solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.

Delegates represent their countries at a version of the General Assembly, and sit on various specialist agencies such as the World Health Organisation, the International Criminal Court, the World Bank and the Human Rights Council.

In addition to daily committee sessions, there are many social activities for delegates to experience other cultures.

This year’s conference asked delegates to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) – eight UN targets for halving world poverty by 2015.

A diverse group of 20 delegates from 20 countries were responsible for developing a post-MDG vision for global development. They produced a resolution containing 10 global development goals with subsequent proposals.

10 global development goals 

  1. Eradicating extreme poverty
  2. Promote economic sustainability and equitable distribution of resources
  3. Ensure food and water security and sanitation
  4. Improve basic health
  5. Improve gender equality and empower women and girls
  6. Achieve universal quality education
  7. Enhance good governance and global partnership
  8. Ensure environmental sustainability
  9. Ensure disaster risk reduction and management
  10. Promote peace, security and protection from violence
Conference president Siamak Loni and secretary-general Charlene Wong at the 22nd session of World Model United Nations held in Melbourne this year.

Secretary-general Charlene Wong and conference president Siamak Loni at the 22nd session of World Model United Nations held in Melbourne this year.

As the conference came to an end, the resolution was presented to the United Nations to inform discussions on future plans for international aid and development.

This year’s WorldMUN was the first to be endorsed by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), a regional branch of the UN Secretariat.

Conference president Siamak Loni, who officially presented the resolution, has welcomed this opportunity for youths around the world to make a difference.

“We’re thrilled that the UN has officially recognised the impact that my generation can have. We are the next generation of leaders, and many of us are already making an impact in our local communities.” Mr Loni said.

The message of youth engagement was affirmed by the UNESCAP Executive Secretary Dr Noeleen Heyzer, as he noted the importance of recognising youths as today’s partners.

“It is clear that the next big challenge for the United Nations and the peoples of the world – especially our young people – is to ensure a future which is both inclusive and sustainable,” Dr Heyzer said.

Last Friday, the delegates wearing their country’s flags marched from the Exhibition Centre to Queensbridge Square, calling for a seat at the table for young people as UN leaders debate upcoming goals for poverty eradication post 2015.

They were greeted by the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and Yossi Goldfarb from the International Education branch of the Victorian Department of Business and Innovation.

The City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government have expressed their support for the conference by acknowledging the hard work and dedication of the delegates.

“The City of Melbourne was honoured to be the host city for WorldMUN,” the Lord Mayor said.

“I hope participants enjoyed working together to develop solutions to world problems. Melbourne is a wonderful city. I hope participants retain fond memories of our city. We look forward to welcoming (them) again.”

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