GDT20: Paris-ite won an Oscar

As we wandered on to our final city, our delegates buzzed with anticipation over the classics, the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, and the Louvre. We finally arrived and had no disappointments on this front – what awaited us was a beautiful and exciting new city to end our tour. Here are some thoughts from our delegates on city number 6!

BEN FRASER – City Landmarks

As GDT concluded, the delegation had the unique opportunity to explore the beautiful and historic sites of Paris. France’s beautiful art, distinctive language and rich culture has earned the admiration of many of us. Despite several members of the delegation admitting that their only knowledge of French culture comes from the movie Ratatouille, no one could fail to appreciate the beauty of Paris.

Exploring iconic locations like the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Élysées was a special experience. The city holds a unique place in the pantheon of western media as a symbol of love and romance. Visiting the landmarks we have seen for so many years was a highlight for all of us. Even the chilly weather couldn’t stop us sampling authentic croissants, and greeting locals with a friendly “Bonjour“ while diving between stunning boutiques for those last minute purchases. 

However it was the intersection of culture and heritage that surprised many of us. Visiting incredible museums like the Musée de Orange and Louvre or exploring the enchanting back alleys of Montmartre exposed us to France’s flamboyant history.

With only a flight back to New Zealand ahead, the city has also been a place of reflection for many of us. After a month of 3am DMC’s and picking uni papers, everyone is returning to their next adventure with our eyes widened to the potential that the world holds.

MARIA MENDOZA – Educational Meetings

Not only did the city of Paris show us delegates how culturally rich the city is, but whilst we immersed ourselves amongst it all we also had valuable educational meetings at the OECD, New Zealand Embassy and FIDH. 

We had our first meeting at the OECD where we had a presentation by Grégoire Garsous, who worked in the Trade and Agriculture Directorate, to give us a presentation on the relationship between Trade and Environment. With the OECD’s motto being  “Better policies for better lives”, the presentation was insightful into how international trade rules are conflicting with member states national environmental regulations. Grégoire emphasised how more analytical work was needed as the matter of the environment is an utterly complex debate, such as the need for empirical evidence to determine how globalisation can improve the environment and how to minimise adverse trade-related effects.

Up next we had our meeting at the New Zealand Embassy who advocate for the interest of New Zealand and the Pacific. It was always a good time talking to fellow Kiwis so we were all excited for it. We covered a range of topics from NZ being world leaders through our wellbeing budget and how the OECD looks to NZ for input, to how policymakers can prepare young people for the future and transitioning to a low carbon future.

The following day we had our very last educational meeting of the tour with FIDH (International Federation for Human rights) were we discussed the work of human rights NGOs at the United Nations. The FIDH engages in litigation against impunity, protecting local human rights defenders and enabling democratic environments worldwide. We learned that the FIDH prioritises women’s’ rights, migrant rights and looks into globalisation and human rights by holding companies accountable.

Overall the delegation has taken a lot out of our educational meetings and engaged with our speakers to learn as much as we can from their knowledge and experience. We hope to use what we learned to also, as we heard at the NZ Embassy, collectively come together to make our world a better place.

PIATA HOHAIA – Non Educational Activities

As we stepped into our last city for the tour there was a bittersweet feeling in the air however the excitement for the sightseeing was undeniable! 

The minute we stepped into Paris we were greeted by the bustling city and the beautiful buildings and architecture that comes with it. Our hostel was placed right beside the Paris canal and in the morning we woke up to picturistic views of the canal with a bridge right beside, people riding their bikes and patisseries from far as the eye could see. The weather all throughout our days in Paris was chilly in the mornings with a bit of rain but we had beautiful blue skies on other days. 

With a great suprise walking tour from Patrick, we got to learn and see more of the city like the French National Assembly building, the great canal St Martin and many more. Our first big landmark was the Arc de triomphe and although the stairs to the top were a bit of a trek the views of the city and of course the Eiffel Tower were amazing. 

On our second day a highlight for many of us delegates was our walking tour with our amazing guide. We started at Paris’s largest fountain Saint Michel and walked all through the city where we listened and learned about many stories of this French capital. I personally loved learning about the renovation of Paris in the late 19th century and how the aim of architects at that time was to bring light back into the city from an otherwise dark, dingy and disease ridden place. We saw the Notre Dame and although it was under heavy construction, the ruins of this monumental building you could tell held so much significance behind it. Some other highlights we went to were the Sainte-Chapelle, Palais de Justice de Paris, Square du vert-galant, the famous lock bridge and of course the Louvre.

Because our last day was on the same day as some of the Paris riots we weren’t able to do some of the other important landmarks however going to the Montmartre steps was also a definite highlight. To see the beautiful view of the sunset behind the city with the Sacrè Cœur church behind us was a great way to end our last day in Paris. Having free time to roam the streets and stop at café’s was a great way to take in the city and experience the more slow paced lifestyle. Overall Paris and it’s amazing culture and history didn’t fail to disappoint.