Goodbye, New York; Hello, London!

Ever wondered what it’s like to MUN at midnight? Well, wonder no longer. After a full day of committee sessions on Saturday, four of our Delegates (Caitlin Hancy, Manuevaha Latu, Kate Falloon and Kyle Hannah) were called up to partake in the CMUNCE Midnight Crisis Session, held at the very impressive Marriott Marquis Times Square Hotel. Replete with fat pants and PJs (a somewhat different aesthetic to the other committee sessions), the Delegates, Mitchell and Gauri set off on the train for a two-hour crisis debating session (with a much-needed Starbucks stop on the way). The Delegates all thoroughly enjoyed Midnight Crisis, particularly with having the opportunity to practice for future careers in diplomacy, where issues do not always adhere to a nine-to-five schedule.

With the rush that was Midnight Crisis over, the Delegates soon found themselves approaching the last day of CMUNCE! The closing ceremony was an experience-and-a-half, with hundreds of students cloistered into Columbia’s Alfred Lerner Hall to hear the results from the three-day conference. Awards were available for Verbal Commendations, Honourable Mentions, Best Delegate, and Outstanding Delegate. We’re incredibly proud to say that two of our own – Rebecca-Rose Ngatai and Caitlin Hancy – won an Honourable Mention and a Verbal Commendation! Rebecca-Rose was in the Golden Age of the Mughals Committee, while Caitlin was in the Ad Hoc Committee of the Secretary-General.

After CMUNCE, the Delegates and the Directorship hustled themselves to John F. Kennedy Airport to catch a seven-hour flight to London. There were many a red bus and telephone booth to see as we drove through town, so our first glimpse of the city did not disappoint! Once we were all well and settled, we went out to see Tower Bridge, The Shard, and St Paul’s, before fittingly ending the evening with a British meal (think fish n chips, bangers and mash, mince pies) at a pub that’s been running since 1660!

The next morning, the Delegation went off to get to know London a bit better. Our first stop: Buckingham Palace. After navigating the London Underground (which was considerably more confusing than New York’s grid-like subway system), we arrived at Green Park. Though some Delegates (and Directors!) were heard expressing disbelief over the Palace’s relatively unassuming facade, it was still a fantastic experience to view the building, and the Victoria Memorial which stands opposite the Palace gates. We also learnt that the Queen was not in residence, as noted by the raised Union Jack, instead of the Royal Standard.

After that, we walked our way to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben (though it was still unfortunately in the depths of construction!), Trafalgar Square, and Piccadilly Circus. A lot of Delegates said that while the hustle and bustle of London remained the same as in New York, the former reminded them a lot more of home. An afternoon of shopping ensued, before the group came together in the evening for the Lion King musical at West End. The props were incredible, the costumes amazing, and it didn’t hurt to look at adult-Simba (who also happened to be a Kiwi!)!

Stay tuned to catch the rest of our adventures in London and our first days in Paris!

CMUNCE Begins!

The Global Development Tour’s whirlwind week in the Big Apple has continued to be full with awesome activities, meetings and new experiences.

On Wednesday, the Delegation had their first meeting of the Tour with Finnian Cheshire, the Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the UN. Finnian spoke with the Delegation for 90 minutes, answering questions on a range of topics, including: New Zealand’s tenure on the Security Council; thoughts on the infamous veto power of the five permanent members of the Council; and even the merits of New Zealand becoming a republic. Needless to say, the Delegation learnt a lot, and were happy to hear a familiar, friendly voice this far from home.

“It was really great to meet a young diplomat representing New Zealand, and to hear his viewpoint on how New Zealand can influence international policy.” – Caitlin Hancy (Auckland)

After this, the Delegation couldn’t resist the opportunity to channel their inner Gossip Girls and take photos both inside Grand Central Station and on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (‘The Met’, for short). After some time perusing the sprawling, art-lined marble halls of The Met, the Delegation re-grouped for a picturesque walk through Central Park, replete with pretty sunset views of Manhattan.

It was then time for the Delegation to test our their culinary prowess in our very own Masterchef. Armed with a 20 USD budget and half an hour’s shopping time in Whole Foods, the Delegation set off in pairs to make one of either an entree, main or dessert for the entire cohort to share. Despite having the New York City Fire Department on standby following a minor incident with a plastic tray in the oven, the Delegates put together a feast of epic proportions. Honourable mentions went to Izzy and Ella’s delicious nachos, and Viv and Caitlin’s sumptuous chocolate cake. However, the ultimate victors were Rosie and Manu with their homemade dumplings, which were a real treat! It is safe to say things are looking promising for most of our Delegates’ future flatting lives.

Thursday was a jam-packed day, with two meetings and the opening of CMUNCE. Our first engagement of the day was with New Zealander, Jan Beagle, Under Secretary-General for Management at the UN. Fresh from a meeting with the Secretary-General himself, Jan shared her experience growing up in New Zealand – attending Epsom Girls Grammar School; spending her summers holidaying in Gisborne at Waikanae Beach; and working part-time at Wattie’s. Jan has had a diverse and exciting career, and is a champion for women’s empowerment. This meeting was thoroughly enjoyed by all, and it was amazing to see a Kiwi succeeding in the highest levels of the UN.

 

“It was interesting to hear Jan Beagle’s story, her insights on the work of the UN, and the successes that she has seen, and been a part of, in her time there. Her confidence that the UN will ensure multilateralism and curb the rise of nationalism was reassuring – she is an enthusiastic and positive force within the institution.” – Alex Johnson (Christchurch) and Karepa Maynard (Gisborne)

Next up was our meeting with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). SDSN is a UN initiative with a mandate to promote joint learning and integrated approaches that address the economic, social, and environmental challenges facing the world now and in the future. SDSN engages with academics from across the world, and works closely with other UN agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society. The Delegation loved hearing all about the wide array of work SDSN is involved in, including their production of the annual World Happiness Report and SDG index.

“The meeting with SDSN was very insightful and gave us the opportunity to strengthen our knowledge of how the UN engages with academics and youth to develop unique and integrated solutions to issues of sustainable development.” – Kahurangi Rangiuia-Lindup (Gisborne)

Following this, the Delegation made their way to the CMUNCE opening ceremonies to hear an address from Vadim Perfiliev, former Director of the UN Secretariat of the General Assembly and Russian Diplomat. The venue, Riverside Church (pictured above), was where Martin Luther King Jr. presented his ‘Beyond Vietnam’ speech – very impressive! It was then straight into Committee Session One, running from 8 – 10pm (quite a different schedule to any UN Youth New Zealand event!) The Delegates have all been throwing themselves headfirst into their debate and negotiation, not to mention adjusting to the new parliamentary procedures.

We look forward to our next update, by which point we will be well into the conference and have had the midnight crisis debate! Standby for that.

 

Day Two & Three: New York, New York!

It’s been a pretty busy two days for the Delegation.

After a leisurely wake up call on Monday morning to make up for the flight delays (and the reaching of New York at midnight), we headed out to our first stop: the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The site included the empty blocks where the Twin Towers stood, which was a harrowing experience to say the least. Inside the Museum, you really got a picture of the sheer scale of the incident, the remnants from the buildings, and the various items that belonged to both victims and survivors was sobering, in the words of another Delegate.

“It was a beautiful and  tasteful tribute to what happened.” – Caitlin Hancy (Auckland)

”The scale of the memorial communicated not only the numerically mortifying loss of life, but the desolating effect the attack has had on the public psyche of the American people and New Yorkers in particular.” – Henry Ewan (Auckland)

After a quick lunch, the Delegation ran to the Rockefeller Center to watch the sun go down from the top. Seeing New York’s buildings against the backdrop of pinks, oranges, and reds made for many a good ‘gram’, as the Delegates soon found. In fact, a certain someone was overheard saying, “this might even be in the 300s range” (when referring to potential likes).

A hearty and delicious dinner followed at The Little Beet before the Delegation headed down to get their first glimpse of Times Square. If there was any doubt in the Delegates’ minds that we weren’t in New York, it was quickly eradicated when surrounded by the lights, dressed up Statues of Liberty, and the iconic red steps.

Day Two started off with a tour of the United Nations Headquarters – something that many Delegates looked forward to, since most of them foresaw jobs in diplomacy and international relations. The 45-minute tour included a history of the United Nations, an overview of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals, and the opportunity for Delegates to view the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the General Assembly Halls.

“It was incredible to see the actual UN and to see what the people actually do (and how many languages the Tour Guides spoke!) – Ella Flavell (Wellington)

Though Chipotle was busy (and shelved for another day), the Delegates still had a great time eating in City Hall Park, where squirrels were aplenty. Surprisingly, the day wasn’t too cold; otherwise, crossing Brooklyn Bridge might not have been as easy as it was. With a stunning view of the New York skyline behind the old sandstone from the Bridge itself, the walk was an experience enjoyed by both Delegates and Directors.

Since we didn’t have much time to spend in Brooklyn before dinner, the Delegation decided to stick around in the ‘DUMBO’ area (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Doesn’t sound familiar? It’s the place where you can get amazing shots of the Manhattan Bridge, nestled perfectly between two picturesque red-brick buildings.

After an entirely too-American dinner of pizza, burgers, and fries at Planet Hollywood, the Delegation split off into either Broadway or Ice Hockey for the evening. They went to a range of shows, including Hamilton, Chicago, The Book of Mormon, Pretty Woman, and Beautiful, and the Ice Hockey game was between the New York Rangers and South Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Gardens. Needless to say, it seems like everyone has cemented their plans to move to New York!

And we’re off!

Kia ora from Auckland Airport! After eight months of planning, studying, and general anticipation (not to mention an 11-hour delay!), we’re finally all together and the Global Development Tour 2019 Delegation are ready to depart! It is going to be a hectic four weeks: after attending Columbia Model United Nations and Exposition in New York, the Delegation will meet with a range of diplomats, NGOs, and UN agencies who are involved with the Sustainable Development Goals – think Under-Secretary-General Jan Beagle in New York, Chatham House in London, and UNESCO in Paris (with many, many more!).

If you’re keen to follow the progress of the Tour, check back here every few days for detailed updates of our travels through New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, and Hong Kong!

A Reflection on the Global Development Tour

With the 2019 delegation of the Global Development Tour being announced, I thought it was a good opportunity to share some of the 2018 delegations experience, in the hope that it can inspire the next delegation and encourage those wanting to apply in the future.

Overview:

In January this year I was fortunate enough to be part of the 2018 Global Development Tour delegation.

We travelled around Europe and to New York learning about global development, international cooperation, and the role the United Nations plays in both. In essence we were shown the world through a future lens – as it could be in 2030, meeting policy makers, businesses and NGOs and being shown how they are working to meet the Global Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Each of the cities we visited represented a theme within the Sustainable Development Agenda and we looked at the SDGs from three different angles; Policy, Business and Community. It was incredibly inspiring to see the work and connectedness of these organisations in different parts of the world.  

We also were very lucky to attend a Model United Nations conference at Columbia University in New York.  CMUNCE hosts delegates from all over the world and it gave us an opportunity to actively participate and engage with like-minded delegates from varied backgrounds and the chance to engage in real-world diplomacy and listen to some fabulous speakers! My role as China on the Security Council debating the situation in Myanmar enabled me to further interact with Human Rights NGO’s and learn about the real work that is being done on the ground.

The trip is a chance to meet new friends and create amazing memories. This has been an incredible life-changing experience and for those, thinking about applying in the future, DO IT, you will not regret it.

 

The 2018 delegation gathers for a photo in front of the United Nations Office at Geneva.

 

Further Reflections from other delegates:

Being one of the few delegates coming new into UN Youth in the GDT group, the trip had very different impacts on me. I had heard of the organisation but had not engaged with the events offered to people my age until the application for the Tour. I was honoured to have been picked from so many outstanding candidates and veterans of the organisation. The Tour changed my life because it opened me up to so many new people and new experiences. On the Tour we met many amazing people doing important jobs to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, people who could make real differences. We had the chance to listen to their past achievements, plans and future goals; while picking their brains and giving our own suggestions. Along the way we got to interact with the landscape of the world, living the cultural and historical differences. Since getting back from the Tour I have strongly kept in touch with others from the delegation as we all embark upon new chapters of our lives. I was inspired to give back to the organisation and enjoy frequently volunteering at UN Youth events, meeting new people and making connections. GDT changed my outlook on sustainable development, helped me make lifelong friends and connected me with an organisation which encourages civics interaction through youth facilitating youth events. It is fair to say my life was clearly changed for the better. 

Emily, 18 Wellington

 

When people call something life-changing they usually mean it in a cliched way, and I guess it’s unfair to say that GDT totally changed my life, but it did make it better and it made me better. I’m now a much more confident, assertive person than I was before embarking on the tour. Seeing the world has given me experience that is directly applicable in the law and arts conjoint I’m studying. GDT was an amazing experience and I’m feeling it’s impact still. I’d recommend it and other UN Youth events for anyone and everyone. It was such a great time.’

Chris, 18 Auckland

 

The Global Development Tour was an incredible experience and something I had dreamed of for a long time. The message that stood out to me the most from our meetings was that development and sustainable development was not an isolated problem that only impacted small parts of the world far away from me, instead if we truly want change and progress, then a concerted united global effort was necessary. This has completely changed how I viewed a number of global issues. Following the tour, I have had the chance to speak to groups about my experience and helped to organise Victoria University’s very first Sustainability Week. But more importantly to me, it has shifted how I talk about international issues such as the health of our waters, gender equality and ending poverty. I have realised that I can make a difference in my own life, in my community and in my country – which all contributes to changing the world and being a global citizen.

Manraj, 18 Wellington

 

By Julia Caulfield

Back in New Zealand and New Beginnings

Wow reflecting back on our month of travel has made us realise how much a group of young people can achieve in such a short amount of time. Not only did we fit in all of our meetings with our incredible organisations and speakers, we also got to explore and understand the cities and the ethos of the people who lived in each city we visited.


Before and After: Leaving Rome, en route home

We had over 30 hours of travel time and transit to get back to Auckland (and more for the delegates who then had to fly or transit home outside of Auckland). But once we finally landed back in Auckland, we had a quick ceremony to thank the Directors for all their time and effort spent planning for the tour and then during. The delegates, in groups, picked small gifts for each of the Directors and explained how much their presence meant to them. It is safe to say, however, that the 2018 Global Development Tour would not have been such a success, without each and every one of the delegates who brought something unique and special to the team.

2018 Global Development Tour looking great after two days of travelling

As Directors, we cannot wait to see how our 2018 Global Development Tour delegates will utilise their newfound friendships, knowledge and inspirations. We wish you all the very best for each of your future endeavours, whether that be travelling overseas or continuing onto tertiary education in New Zealand.

Finally, thank you so much to our sponsors, Ti Ora, Ecostore, Lovenotes and Whittaker’s Chocolates for supporting our 2018 Global Development Tour. We know all our speakers appreciated us leaving a slice of Kiwiana behind.

Rome: Do what the Romans do

We arrived late from Geneva and had an exciting ride through the lit-up streets of Rome in the evening. It felt unbelievable that we were about to have our second-to-last day and our final meeting for the Global Development Tour.

The early start was worth it though. In anticipation of our arrival, the World Food Programme (WFP) had organised a half-day of expert speakers. Firstly, we had the Head of Communications, Caroline, give us a background of the objectives and functions of the WFP.

The interesting point she raised was the reality that the WFP is indispensable but is also funded entirely voluntarily – and mostly by governments such as the United States of America. The delegates were proud to hear that New Zealand also came in quite highly on the donors list.  It was rewarding to see the delegates link their learning from meeting with the WFP’s Share the Meal team.

Delegates listening into the work of the WFP

We also discussed the day-to-day operations of gathering data while working in a disaster-struck site where the WFP is stationed and the relationship between hunger and climate change. It was refreshing to see that the WFP was committed to carbon-neutral methods of ending world hunger.

We would like to thank all the speakers who gave us a candid view of what it is like to be working in field for the WFP and the importance of the courage to do so to truly understand the aims of the WFP and the UN SDGs overall.

Group photo with WFP

“I was surprised to hear about the history of the World Food Programme – that it started with a Senator refusing to dump additional food that could be sent over to other countries whose population were experiencing famine or food-shortages. From there, the World Food Programme was formed to give this structure and I couldn’t be more happy to hear that individual politicians can have a very lasting and immediate impact on the wellbeing of all global citizens. It is clear that if we are to meet the target SDG Number 2 of ending hunger worldwide, then we need to support the work of the World Food Programme.“ – Chris

After our meeting, we had lunch at the WFP cafeteria, which was a delight. The delegates immediately felt the multiculturalism of the WFP Headquarters in Rome and commented on the diversity of cuisine on offer. We are very lucky to have had this experience.

Next on our agenda we got to explore more of Rome’s treasures including the Colosseum and the streets of Rome. A lucky coincidence for the delegates occurred where our previous past President was able to join us for dinner as he was also in Rome at the same time!

Delegation Dinner with Bowen in Rome

The next day we explored St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican City. Everyone was in awe of the scale of the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo and the Raphael Room.  Needless to say, this was a highlight for all the delegates, but in particular those who had studied Classics. Some of the delegates also chose to go to the Roman Forum.

It was an easy-going day where we let the delegates explore and find last-minute souvenirs before meeting up at the Trevi Fountain.

Our last delegation dinner was a glorious feast worthy of the Ancient Romans, many heart-warming speeches, and hilarious recollections of our time together. There was no denying that there were speechless acknowledgements that this tour has made an insurmountable impact on each of our delegates.

Geneva: UNOHCHR, Red Cross and the Old Town

After our exciting train ride from Paris into Ville de Genève, we were all really keen to make the most of our two full days here. We started off early to our meeting with Juan from the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. Juan had an interesting background from Latin America as well as his experience working on the Expert Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples. The delegates were really fascinated with his examples of specific issues and instances of human rights broadly and in the context of minorities and Indigenous Peoples.

“The meeting was very informative. It was great being able to link some of these discussions to the one we had with Broddi in New York from UNDESA. I was really intrigued to hear about the Fellowship they have for young people from Indigenous or minority communities.” – Jordana

Meeting with Juan from the Office of the High Commission of Human Rights

We had free time around the centre of Geneva to explore and get lunch including trying a healthy vegan restaurant. We then returned to the Palais de Nations and headed towards the International Committee of the Red Cross for a museum tour. It was interesting to see how important key figures such as Henry Dunant and key historical events such as the Battle of Solferino was to the founding of such an iconic organisation. Realising how important the organisation is in continuing to track family members after even recent armed conflicts and intra-state wars is warming. The museum itself was also very interactive with sensory artworks and a group game called Hurricane which involved our entire delegation to work as a team to save a village from a tsunami.

Outside the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva

We then took the tram again to the Old Town of Geneva where we saw the beautiful St. Pierre Cathedral. It was an amazing view from the top of Lake Geneva and the city. There were countless chocolatiers to entertain our delegation and the quaint nature of the town added to the surreal atmosphere.

View from the top of St. Pierre Cathedral in the Old Town of Geneva.

Photo Cred: Emily

One of the highlights of the evening was having a wonderful dinner at Restaurant Les Armures. Fun Fact: Bill Clinton has dined here too.

Paris: Looking at Human Rights, the OECD and a Boulangerie

Our last day in Paris was very intense and packed full of things to do and see before we left for Geneva. We had a brilliant morning meeting with Roger Duncan who works in the OECD but was originally from Wellington. The delegates who had been tested on the PISA tests at school were really surprised that they had contributed to the international statistics which shows how NZ students fare compared to other countries who also completed these tests.

 “Roger’s insight into Multilateralism allowed me to understand how large organisations such as OECD are constantly attempting to make the world a better place.” – Shereen

Meeting at the New Zealand House in Paris on the work of the OECD

The delegates were also really interested to see how the OECD is working across all sectors of the SDGs so that the SDGs are relevant to the continual work of the OECD. Comically, Roger mentioned there are over 100 committees, including one named the ‘Tractor Committee’.

We then went to a French bakery which was rated one of the best in Paris!

Our next meeting was with Antoine from the International Federation of Human Rights. The federation is an international human rights Non-Governmental Organisation representing 184 organisations from 112 countries.

“There were interesting discussions from Antoine about the need for more critical-thinking skills at an earlier age because of the proliferation of fake news and questionable sources for news gathered through social media. But it was cool to see that everything that the IDHR did in terms of human rights advocacy was related to the SDGs.” – Julia and Lara

The aim of the organisation is to defend all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The delegates brought in a lot of topical events such as the Arab Spring and France’s controversial prohibition on religious dress and how that relates to Human Rights.

Meeting with the International Advocacy Director of the International Federation of Human Rights

After our meeting with Antoine finished, we hustled back to catch our evening train to Switzerland!

Paris: ‘Qui vivra verra’

Charles Dickens noted that Paris “is the most extraordinary place in the world” and as a delegation, we understood its charm. Our first two days were a wintery weekend in Paris but we were lucky enough to explore the city’s many gems.

Arriving early to the Louvre to observe the Pyramide designed by I.M. Pei

Photo Credit: Jason

We headed first-thing in the morning to the Louvre to see the iconic permanent artworks (a.k.a. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and other artworks) before the lines became too unmanageable. The delegates were very impressed with the variety of collection of artworks here including sculptures from Antiquity, artwork from Africa and Oceania, and Northern Renaissance pieces.

After the Louvre, we walked down Champs Elysees, the famous shopping district of Paris. Delegates had free time to spend around this area before we re-grouped to go to the overarching Arc de Triomphe.

Outside the Arc de Triomphe

After the Arc de Triomphe, we went to the beautiful Parc Monceau to make the most of the sunlight while we had it. It was built in the 17th century, and is one of the most elegant gardens in Paris.

Delegates posing outside a structure in the Park Monceau

We concluded our first day with a lovely dinner at a French restaurant to try the local fare, all very much looking forward to another day of exploring this exciting and creative city.

The next day was a leisurely Sunday and we were fortunate enough to walk along a full Seine River. We were also fortunate enough to listen to part of a service at the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral. Delegates were able to visit the Crypt and learn more about the ancient history of Paris (previously known as Lutetia during the 2nd and 4th century) or to walk up to the top of Notre Dame.

We then went to the Eiffel Tower and although we were not able to climb to the top due to construction, it was a fine day to be seeing it from the base.

After we had time for photos and viewing of the Eiffel Tower, our delegation went to see more modern art at the Paris MOMA. There were key American and French modern artists including Monet, Matisse, Delauney, Holzer and Kruger as well as contemporary exhibitions.

And as Parisians say in the title of this blog above, “he/she who lives, shall see.”