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.”

Berlin: The Reichstag, ‘Refugee Crisis’ and Ready-set-go!

This morning we received an informative tour of the German Bundestag (Parliament) including the terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building. There were interesting art installations which reminded the members of Parliament of its precarious past and interesting architectural features such as concrete silos for tree roots in the underground tunnel connecting the different section of the Bundestag. The symbol of the Reichstag was designed by Norman Foster to represent freedom and power. The dome of the Reichstag Building is also constructed of clear glass panels to represent the transparency of the German Parliament.

Delegates inside the main chambers of the Reichstag Building

After our tour we headed over to a meeting with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Berlin to learn how they work to assist and protect refugees. The UNHCR acts as a monitoring body to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to eventually returning home, integrating in the new country or resettling elsewhere.

The delegates found this meeting informative because of recent events back in New Zealand and thought it was interesting to view New Zealand’s role in this issue from the perspective of Germany and other larger states.

After our meeting we walked over to the remains of the Berlin Wall. In particular, we walked down the East Side Gallery and got to witness some thought-provoking and poignant murals. Some of the delegates even got a replica stamp on their passports of the old stamps which were given when one passed from West to East Berlin. Overall, the delegation thoroughly enjoyed our last day in Berlin.

Delegates posing outside an East Side Gallery mural

And with that, we were off to Paris!

Berlin: From Sachenhausen to Share the Meal

We only had three full days in Berlin and sadly, Germany marked the halfway point of our tour. Despite the intensity and fast-paced nature of each of our days, somehow we still seem to be having a lot of fun (and hence time flies)!

Our first day started with a sombre historical excursion to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. The delegates all noted that this was a very educational experience, including giving them some context to the World War II history they have learnt at school. It was interesting to learn that Sachsenhausen was never intended to be a concentration camp, although it later became one, but rather it was designed and built to house political dissidents.

Out of respect the delegates did not take any photos here but we were able to then venture to Bebelplatz where the book burnings occurred outside Humboldt University of Berlin. Some delegates also got to explore the Berlin Cathedral Church or the Alte Nationalgalerie which housed Impressionist and early Modernist art including iconic Rodin sculptures.

Leaping outside the Berlin Cathedral Church after a day of exploring

Although our morning trip was more serious, we also got to celebrate Hayley’s birthday with a lovely dinner together. The camaraderie which the other delegates showed is impressive since almost all of them have only known each other since our December Planning Weekend.

The next day we continued to explore more of Berlin’s recent history by going to the Soviet War Memorial and the Topography of Terrors Museum. The delegates were excited to see the Enigma machines and learn about the Gestapo spies whom were employed during the Second World War.

We then followed this walking tour with a meeting with the Share the Meal team. ShareTheMeal is a start-up company which crowd-funds through a smartphone application to fight global hunger through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). It enables users to make small donations to specific WFP projects in developing countries and to track their progress.

“The meeting was more about how the Share the Meal app works on a day to day level. It was amazing to hear from another group of millennials doing incredible work. It felt like we could really relate because of our close ages and because of their casual and cool way of doing tangible things with a positive impact on the world. I was really inspired.” – Kate

The delegates then explored the central area of Postdamer Platz before they got an early night for another packed day!

Copenhagen: Carbon-Neutral City #Goals

Today we had an early morning stroll over to meet with Copenhagen City Council. They kindly met with us again despite limiting their meetings with delegations to other city councils since last year’s Global Development Tour. We were able to see the grandeur of Copenhagen’s City Hall before heading to their administration building across the bridge.

Outside the Copenhagen City Hall

The delegates were met with a thoughtful package which included interesting reports on the goals in which Copenhagen City Council published. These included becoming the first Carbon Neutral city by 2025 and becoming the city with the most cyclists.

“Copenhagen City Council showed they really cared for what they did for their citizens and Monica was considerate that their environmental policies may not work for every other city, including Auckland. She realised that there might be different considerations for different cities. It was enlightening for me to realise that leaders can and do recognise their own shortcomings. No one has a monopoly on the secret and answers are not one size fits all.” – Sarah Cameron

Meeting with Monica from Copenhagen City Council

One of the highlights of our time at Copenhagen was seeing a delegate learn how to cycle (being taught by her peers). There were some key lessons on how urban spaces could be transformed when people are put at the centre of urban planning. The delegates certainly were left with a lot to ponder over, as urban sprawl continues and communities become increasingly urbanised.

“I was really inspired by Copenhagen City Council’s future-forward thinking. It’s really inspired me to cycle around Napier when I get home. I hope I can encourage others in New Zealand to do the same or see the same level of leadership by local councils.” – Hana

After the meeting finished we headed straight back to pack and head over to the Airport. Next stop onto Berlin!

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!