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UN Youth Network Deals With Global Issues

Amanda Yeo, Diploma in Economics and BSc (Hon) Economics and Finance, SIM-University of London (photo, front left), went to Bucharest in September 2015 to participate in the youth version of the UN General Assembly.
Amanda Yeo, Diploma in Management Studies and BSc (Hon) Economics and Finance, SIM-University of London (photo, front left), went to Bucharest in September 2015 to participate in the youth version of the UN General Assembly. The 22-year-old fresh graduate met like-minded young people who care passionately about global issues and want to help resolve them. Amanda records her thoughts and sentiments…

THE United Nations’ General Assembly in New York City where world issues are debated and decisions made, are simply too important to be left to politicians, ambassadors and career diplomats.

After all, issues like refugee movement, armed conflicts, climate warming and eradication of poverty affect everyone. Young people want to play a part in discussing them. After all, the young are the ones who will take over when the old leaders quit the world stage.

To this end, a voluntary UN Youth Associations Network was set up in August 2011 in Geneva for young people to learn about the United Nations and how global decisions are made.

UNYANET, as it is called, has 18 member associations and two observers from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. It has about 20,000 individual members.

In December 2014 while studying at SIM Global Education’s University of London BSc (Hon) programme, I read about this umbrella grouping for young people. I became interested and volunteered as a contributor for the UNYANET blog webpage.

As I have a strong interest in journalistic writing, the organisation’s Public Relations officer asked me to be their blog editor. I accepted the challenge to help other volunteers edit articles and ensure the quality of the contributed material.

Objectives Of UNYANET

The objective of UNYANET is to exchange knowledge, resources and experiences, to develop a common identity among member associations and representatives from third parties. UNYANET provides advice and assistance to young people who like to establish a UN Youth Association in their country. Currently Singapore and Malaysia (my country) are not members.

UNYANET also carries out projects through Web-based seminars, study trips, flash mob dancing and online campaigns on occasions such as the UN Day or the International Youth Day. The working groups and volunteers from all around the world work on tasks such as PR and IT and contribute to lively political debate through its blog.

Other programmes include regular online meetings and an annual mini version of the General Assembly attended by young people from the world over. In 2015, I was invited to one such mini-General Assembly held in Bucharest, Romania, from September 10-12. My parents in Sabah paid for my trip.

I completed my final University of London examinations in May, and then took part in a business training stint in Malaysia, and an internship in Taiwan. My schedule was tight: After my internship, I returned to my hometown, Kota Kinabalu, on September 1. Three days later, I flew to Europe.

The programme at Bucharest included workshops, project developments and social events. As a volunteer, I held a workshop on Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Pau Petit, a representative from Spain, encouraged the delegates to rethink global governance. In his workshop, the participants discussed the main challenges of good governance, including child labour, corruption and gender inequality. As a result, the participants launched a campaign to push for a youth candidate to be the next UN Secretary General.

The formal part of the programme included an overview of the UNYANET activities in 2014-2015 that covered more than 50 Model United Nations conferences organised by members.

Besides the workshops, there were social events, including a visit to the Romanian Parliament, and an evening of Romanian food and dance.

Programme Of Action For Youth

A campaign was started to raise awareness about global youth issues and to give the UN a new face and energy. The priorities of the youth candidates are selected after examining the World Programme of Action for Youth, My World 2015 survey and the Global Governance and Youth Workshop organised by the UN Youth Network.

The target audience for this campaign are young people from around the world who wish to get involved in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals, and in raising awareness among youth for global action.

My Impression Before And After The GA

Before my trip, I knew little about Romania. Through this “global village” event, I got the opportunity to understand better the culture, not only of Romania, but those of nearby Germany, Finland and Spain too.

I was asked by the UNYANET president to conduct a “Post-2015 agenda” workshop. For discussion topics, I included the transformation from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Sustainable Development Summit (September 25-27).

I was nervous before the workshop. However, the feedback I received gave me a sense of accomplishment as delegates felt my workshop was interesting. I used videos and slides, enabling the audience to understand the content of the Post-2015 agenda better. Pau, the Spanish delegate, appreciated my work as it formed the foundation for his own “Global Governance” workshop the following day.

His workshop was well-conducted as delegates could identify with the challenges, solutions and how we should communicate the main global issues to the UN-Secretary General.

What I Learnt

Through my attendance at the mini-General Assembly, I understand world issues better. I have two goals now: to help inform the public of UN goals through my writing, and to urge more Asian young people to take action to develop a sustainable future.

I am glad to have chosen SIM Global Education to pursue my tertiary studies. Through my participation in the Malaysian students’ club in SIM (known as MCSIM) and study trips around Asia, summer school at the University of Cambridge in UK and an overseas internship in Taiwan, I have gained global exposure and experience which will prove invaluable in my future career as I would like to work in an international environment.

Sustainable planet: Amanda’s career goal is to work in International Relations, but her long-term aspiration is to start-up a social enterprise involved in sustainable projects
Sustainable planet: Amanda’s career goal is to work in International Relations, but her long-term aspiration is to start-up a social enterprise involved in sustainable projects

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  – Posted online November 05, 2015