Copenhagen: A tale of two cities

Given our first full day in Copenhagen was a Sunday, we spent the day on a walking tour of iconic parts of the city including the Little Mermaid, King’s New Square, Rosenborg Castle and Christianborg. The delegates enjoyed walking around the Church of Our Saviour because you could see the old Danish heritage nestled amongst modern and commercial buildings.

Walking along Nyhavn was an idyllic experience and some of the students even went on a cycling tour of the surrounds.

Walking along past Hans Christian Anderson’s home in Nyhavn

This morning was spent with an early start to journey towards UN City for a meeting with UN Women. We had two interns present to us about the role of UN Women both normatively and operatively across different sectors. We got to understand that the Copenhagen office was more a liaison centre for advocacy and partnership with civil society and businesses to action gender equality in all forms. The delegates also got to compare the situation of the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report between New Zealand and Denmark as well as discuss policies or cultural differences which may explain the status of women or other genders in both New Zealand and the city of Copenhagen.

Meeting with UN Women and UN City, on the “Hogwarts Stairs”

“UN Women was a provoking meeting. It was cool to see how UN Women championed grassroots actions but did not prescribe certain legislative norms as a ‘one size fits all’. I found it interesting that gender equality can mean different things in different contexts. For example, in developed and usually Western nations, this usually meant discussions on the gender pay gap and representation in governance and planning institutions such as Parliaments but in developing countries, it was more about physical violence against women and forced marriages of girls. While this was confronting for all of us, I found it very interesting that aside from Rwanda, the top 5 gender-equal states in the world are from the Nordic region – except Denmark.” – Milo

Afterwards we got a tour of the UN City building and the thought and planning which went into its conception. Although we learnt that UN City was erected here in 2002, there are plans for new towers and offices to be built this year to accommodate the growth of the UN agencies such as the World Health Organisation which has its headquarters here.

Interestingly, the UN City has a moat around its building for security and almost one solar panel for each employee on its premises. Along the port you can see wind turbines dotted along the horizon and the building is designed so that the lifts are out of eyesight in order to reduce energy consumption and encourage dialogue.

“It was amazing to see how sustainable the UN city was – the water catchments on the ceilings, self-regulating building temperatures and everything. It will be exciting to see the bridge once it has been built since it sounds like there is so much meaning there too; the ends just touch to mimic the abstract connection between two people coming together in the spirit of the United Nations.” – Hayley

Tomorrow we have another early meeting with the Copenhagen City Council and then off to another European city!

London: Our Last Day

Making the most of our last day in London, we went firstly to the British Museum which houses famous artefacts such as the Rosetta Stone. There was even an exhibit on New Zealand in the ‘Living’ section.

After the British Museum, we headed towards the New Zealand House to meet with Lauren, on a posting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Daniel Taylor, the Trade Commissioner in London.

Discussion with NZ Trade and Enterprise at the New Zealand House in London

Photo Cred: Jayden van Leeuwen

The Delegates were excited to be at London House this afternoon. They were briefed by Lauren on the continued role of the Commonwealth and the importance of this network for small-state countries such as New Zealand. This fascinated some of the Delegates who saw the Commonwealth as a somewhat vestigial network. These different perspectives have further helped the delegates to understand how useful strategic connections can be in the realm of international trade and forums.

The 2018 Global Development Tour at the roof-top of New Zealand House

The delegation addressed some interesting questions such as New Zealand’s changing dynamics of trade and exports to the European Union countries and the United Kingdom. They were thoroughly impressed with the degree of educational content in which NZ Trade and Enterprise prepared for our meeting.

The view of London from the top of NZ House

After an intense Q&A and the ending session, we had some time to explore Piccadilly Circus before having a beautiful meal together to celebrate the end of a successful week in London with no rain  and sun each day.

Next stop – Copenhagen!

London: A Circular Economy and coming full circle

This morning we headed early to meet with Stuart, the Head of Investment, at the London Waste Recycling Board (LWARB). Learning about the challenges of reaching the Board’s mission of being carbon zero by 2040 was both inspiring and confronting given the issues the delegates had researched before this tour.

Particularly it was heartening to hear that LWARB were optimistic that they could reach their objectives. Delegates noted the connection between the Grantham Institute’s work and LWARB through their support of innovative solutions and ventures tackling waste and environmental projects in London city with a population of almost 8 million. London is also one of the European Union’s most productive and highest growth areas so balancing these factors and the need to be more sustainable requires future-planning and pre-empting the needs of those living in the future. The delegates noted some pressing lessons to learn for expanding cities such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Delegates engaging with the London Waste and Recycling Board

After this meeting we journeyed to a global NGO and non-profit group to learn more about how law firms and lawyers can address SDG 1 on eradicating poverty. A4ID is a legal brokerage service organisation and helps to match up lawyers or firms with international development projects.

One of the key ways in which A4ID does this is through litigation. However the delegates received insight into the ways in which A4ID implements strategic litigation to help the organisations and key projects in developing countries.

Meeting with Nick, Micky, Eugene and Hannah from A4ID

We also want to thank the legal partners of A4ID, including White and Case, who so generously hosted us for this meeting.

After these two full-day meetings, the delegates squeezed more landmark sites into our second to last day in London.

St. Paul’s Cathedral as the sun sets

At the conclusion of the tour of the Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral, we had dinner in Leicester Square to end the evening. It is our last day in London tomorrow and we are going to make the most of it!

London: SDG No. 9 on the role of Industry and Innovation

Today we began to understand why London was a key feature of the 2018 Global Development Tour. Our first meeting was with the UN Global Compact team in the United Kingdom where the delegates were able to meet with a key player in advocating for sustainable companies.

“We played a simulation ‘game’ which UN Global Compact plays with its corporate members who are also learning how to include sustainable policies and practices.

It taught us about how different stakeholders have different self-interests and perspectives.”

– Olivia Cen

The delegation were able to learn more about the reason and rationale why modern slavery still exists. It is a lot harder to be sustainable in operating businesses than we first thought. This nuanced view of the challenges of UN Global Compact’s mission really inspired the delegates to think about the ways in which businesses can possess ethical and environmental leadership in meeting the SDGs within the timeframe.

As we left, we were all gifted with SDG badges to remember the role of all sectors in helping to meet the target indicators.

UN Global Compact UK

After this meeting we headed over to Imperial College to learn more about the Grantham Institute. The Grantham Institute is a Centre which is designed for research into climate change and to get innovative ideas implemented into ventures around environmentally-friendly alternatives.

With Prof. Richard Templar at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London.

The delegates were presented with an interactive session which they thoroughly enjoyed.

“We learnt how to use the Business Model Canvas. This technique was very insightful. We learnt about how the technology cluster in Silicon Valley has really changed the world and the individuals which were pivotal to this instrumental change. We also learnt that although we may be young, ideas are not a monopoly. Be childish and great ideas come.”

– Sarah, Jordana, Kun-Ka, Te Ruki and Kun-Ka.

We even got to finish the evening with a cultural experience of Harrods. Tomorrow is another day of interesting meetings and only one day left to explore more of London.

London: touristing across Time zones and Trafalgar Square

We boarded an early evening flight to London but of course with the time zone differences, it was 9:00am when we landed here. Although many of us were probably jet-lagged from the seven-hour flight, we decided to make the most of the continuing day. Time to be a tourist. When you visit a city that’s home to almost eight million people, it’s hard to know where to start exploring.

First off we took the London ‘tube’ to the inner city of London. The delegates remarked at the differences between this mode of transportation to New York City’s Metro. Our first stop was Buckingham Palace after a short walk through surrounding park gardens. Whilst we were there, we were lucky enough to see an impressive Changing of the Guard.

Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

Next stop was the Westminster Abbey and past the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. There were eleven giant sculptures of well-known influential figures at Parliament Square including Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. It’s not 28 degrees here but luckily with the beautiful weather, we completed our walking tour by walking past Scotland Yard, Big Ben and Westminster Bridge.

Looking across the Waterloo Bridge to the Eye of London

We traversed to Trafalgar Square and our last educational activity for the day was going to the Natural History Museum with fascinating exhibitions on human evolution and of course, dinosaurs.

Next to the Emmeline Pankhurt sculpture, outside Westminster Abbey.

Today was very productive for our delegates and the chill definitely helped to keep us awake as we explored London. Let’s hope this weather stays with us and London treats us just as well as New York did.

The delegates are very excited about a full day tomorrow of meetings and getting lots of rest!


London Calling

After 14 hours of intense Committee Sessions, a midnight Crisis Committee, and numerous debates, the Delegates have survived their first international Model United Nations Conference at Columbia University. We were well-commended and received as the largest (and potentially loudest) delegation.

“CMUNCE was a very valuable experience. It was interesting to compare the American model of mock United Nations simulations to our New Zealand regional and national events.” – Katie Daly

Cathedral Church of Saint John outside Columbia University

The delegates represented their characters and positions well and we were very impressed with the delegates who had little or no MUN experience before this Tour. One of the highlights was attending a closing social which our delegation prepared a flash-performance of “Poi E” by Patea Māori Club.

After the Closing Ceremony, we had free time to explore areas of New York such as the MET Museum and Brooklyn Bridge.

“New York was a concrete high-rise metropolitan jungle. We have been exposed to a whole range of experiences that is very different to New Zealand. This is a week we will cherish forever.” – Manraj Singh

We then had a very special Dinner that ensued given a relational connection with one of our delegates, Jason. The feeling of being a family after one week together resonated across the delegation.

Delicious dinner at Pho Vietnam, 87 Chrystie St, New York City.

Photo Cred: Jason Tran

We reflected back on the week with all the candid and funny moments during which we learnt more about different global issues, cultures and each other.

Next stop, a seven hour flight to London!

Memorials and Model United Nations

We had a change in pace and scene today by going to tourist attractions before beginning the Columbia University Model United Nations Conference and Exposition (CMUNCE). First off, we went to a memorable part of New York: the 9 / 11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum. While many of the Delegates would have only been one year old when the tragic event occurred, it was important to remember back to the events of 9/11 and see how this affects the United States of America’s foreign policy.

Delegates respectively observed the memorial footprints of where Tower 1 and 2 once stood and felt it was a heavy place to be. The structure of the memorial looked like “”an attempt for the the water to wash away the tragedy”.

Yet, in the actual museum, there were exhibits about the victims which lent insight into their full lives before the tragedy.

“One exhibit, In Memorium, was dedicated to families who had written or narrated details about their relative or relation(s). They were heartfelt stories, some funny and some incredibly sad of each victim.”

After our solemn visit, we headed to the warmth of the Pret a Manger – a favourite it seemed among the Delegates. After this, it was voted by the delegates that they would visit the iconic Charging Bull sculpture outside Wall Street. The Delegates were surprised at how busy the tourist area was but it was a grand sight.

“It was really cool to see that there was more to see that it was more than just a girl and a bull – the symbolism was interesting considering the GFC”

Next on the agenda was a trip to see a snowy Central Park. For some of the delegates, this was the first time they had seen a squirrel. Although Central Park was not as busy as it usually gets in summer, there were still a lot of people walking their dogs around.

The final tourist experience the Delegates were given before they began CMUNCE was to go to an American Diner for dinner.

Outside the Alma Mater sculpture by Daniel Chester French, Columbia University

Before arriving at Columbia University for CMUNCE, it was clear that Delegates were feeling excited and nervous about the event as well as meeting American or other international students. But at the Opening Ceremony, the Delegates had the opportunity to hear the key note speaker, the Special Representative of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to the United Nations, speak about the relationship of  INTERPOL and the UN.

Delegates then went to their First Session which they felt they were well-prepared for since our CMUNCE simulation at December Planning Weekend was fast-paced after introductions in the Committee. However Chairs of Committees were very relaxed and set the tone that it was quite a relaxed process so there was a good balance. Delegates were surprised that other students were delighted to hear the Kiwi accent and to learn more about New Zealand and UN Youth NZ.

One of the highlights of the first session of CMUNCE for one of our Delegates, Sarah Cameron, was that she put forward a Directive which had more than the number of signatories required.

“I am so excited to go back to the next session of ‘sea-monkey'” (pronunciation of CMUNCE) – Sarah Cameron

A BareBurger, Broddi and a Building

Our second day in New York was just as jam-packed. We raced to the UNHQ again for a meeting with Broddi from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Broddi explained how Indigenous issues came to be recognised by the UN, and the challenges and complications with the UN addressing such issues.

“Broddi was very inspirational. I was captivated by him the whole time. He cemented my ideas about how we think about the progress of our society. The global perspectives we took from this regarding all Indigenous Peoples’ will stay with me.” – Te Ruki Dunn

We also got a surprise addition to our meeting from two Young Professionals, Melissa and Kathleen. Both described their experiences as interns, internship opportunities at the UN and the rigorous process of applications it takes to get an opportunity there. These insights will surely be helpful even in years to come.

 Meeting with Broddi Sigurðarson, UNEP

Photo Cred: Jason Tran

After we finished, we had our first leisurely lunch at BareBurger where a handful of delegates sampled The Impossible Burger. After some free time, we headed off to our second meeting close-by at the UN Plaza with the United Nations Environmental Programme.

This was another insightful meeting where delegates asked brilliant questions. It was interesting to find the need for multi-disciplinary approaches to addressing pressing issues such as Climate Change. Elliot Harris praised the 2018 GDT Delegation for bringing intelligent, mature and thoughtful talking points during our meeting with him.

 Meeting with Elliot Harris, UNEP

Photo Cred: Jason Tran

“Our discussion with Elliot was incredibly informative and insightful. He shared with us the importance of strengthening the investment of sustainable businesses and everyday practices, and ensuring that there is better relationships between the private and public sector on environmental issues on a policy level.” – Lara Cable

After dinner, we headed off to experience the Rockefeller Centre and the Top of the Rock at night. While our group photo on the Top Deck was stunning, the dim lighting and camera flash at night meant it was impossible to see the full skyline, so we thought we’d add this in as a better representation of Manhattan.

Photo Cred: Previous UN Youth Tour

The Delegates are gearing up tomorrow for an intense day starting CMUNCE with all their new-found knowledge. We are excited and believe they will represent their positions in their respective Committees well.

New York, New York and the UN

After travelling for what feels like days, the Global Development Tour 2018 has finally arrived at our first destination – New York!

Although jet-lagged, we started off our first full day with a quintessential experience of taking the New York subway with a quick stop at the Grand Central Station. Then we headed to our main morning event which was a tour of the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York

It was impressive to see the Delegates show their knowledge of the structure and pillars of the United Nations through months of planning, studying the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and learning about current events which might be topical in our planned meetings. An assembly of the Security Council had just ended before our tour of the Committee Chambers at the UN. The Delegates were intrigued by the different duties and roles of the Committees and the timelines of issues dealt by the UN such as the Palestine Issue, Nuclear Disarmament and Decolonisation through the Trusteeship Committee.

In the Security Council Chamber

It was also great to see the 17 SDGs displayed at the UN and to hear the Delegates engage with our Tour Guides specifically on the Indicators to be achieved before 2030. This Tour really solidified the educational modules which the Delegates completed throughout the months prior to GDT. Delegates had explored contemporary contentious issues within international and multi-lateral development and the background knowledge showed through.

With the UN SDGs

After our Tour, we made our way to our second meeting with the NZ Permanent Mission to the UN.The Delegates were able to meet with the Ambassador and a senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor.

The Delegates were well-prepared because we had visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington a few weeks before departing for GDT. Delegates interested in working in a similar field in the future in New York were able to understand the dynamics between the NZ Permanent Mission to the United Nations located in New York to the policies and mandates back in “Capital” a.k.a. Wellington.

Key learnings which the Delegates found exceptionally helpful were tips, tricks and strategies to negotiate, mediate and draft Resolutions. These skills are sure to be developed and tested in their Columbia University Conference and Exposition beginning in a few days.

Meeting with the NZ Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York

Finishing off an already packed first day, the Delegation were able to enjoy the cultural highlight of finishing the evening at Broadway.

The Delegation that Never Sleeps

With New York being the hustling city that it is, our delegation jumped right into a meeting on our first day here with Professor Glenn Denning at the Ivy League Columbia University. Glenn was an encyclopaedia of knowledge regarding sustainable development. In particular, he discussed how the Sustainable Development Goals were an upgrade from the Millennium Development Goals which were too top down; failed to address inequality or environmental issues, and did not involve a lot of inclusive development. A quick tour of the campus followed and our firsthand experience tells us the university would be one of the top results were we to google “university aesthetic tumblr.”

Columbia in all its glory

Afterwards, our visit to the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations was very exciting, especially as many of us would consider our career goals to be based here. We were met by three members of the Permanent Mission: Deputy Permanent Representative Phillip Taula, Counsellor Renée Yap and 2nd Secretary Kate Neilson. With New Zealand’s term on the Security Council having just come to an end, it was inevitable that there would be considerable discussion of our achievements. The representatives emphasised our efforts in pushing for the interests of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Middle Eastern peace and a more functional Security Council. The delegation also had the opportunity to speak to Simon Hillier, a recent graduate of Victoria University to learn about the internship programme at the Permanent Mission.

The delegation then made its way to Times Square where we were ordered a few cheeky medium-rares at Applebee’s. To top the night off, we ended with seeing child prodigies in action in the Broadway performance of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s School of Rock.

Doesn’t get much more touristy than a Times Square jumping photo

Our second day begun with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The two memorial pools were an unforgettable monument, especially in the gently snowing conditions. The museum was equally impressive as it presented a multitude of voices of those involved in the attack and did so with impressive poignancy.

A poignant moment at the 9/11 Memorial

After some free time, the delegation gathered back at our wonderful hostel, Hostelling International New York, where we competed against each other in The Global Development Tour Masterchef Challenge themed around ‘New York’. Julia and I were on mains so we created the first thing that came to mind – nachos shaped in the head of the State of Liberty, of course. Our combination of blue corn chips, the smallest pinch of mince amongst a crowd of pinto beans and yummy guac deservedly won 1st place; a perfect end to our first few days in New York before Youth Assembly!

–  Matthew Handford and Teresa Lee

The Global Development Tour takes young New Zealanders to see cities leading the charge on the Sustainable Development Goals. The trip culminates in attending the Youth Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, a conference that aims to transform vision into action – empowering young people to apply all they know into meaningful change in their communities. Read more..