It is commonly said that the UN, although it is not by mandate expected to act as a global government, is often asked to do so. Being the most criticized institution in the recent history, every one of its actions is receiving a lot of attention and more comments than anyone can handle. Therefore, it is easily understood why the recent call for a sustainable development agenda became one of the most controversial issues for the biggest part of the civil society.
On the one hand, there is the extensive critique regarding the scope of the SDGs, their comparison to the Millennium Development Goals, their questionable binding effect, their funding, and monitoring. On the other hand, we have the self-declared defenders of said agenda with a wide variety of arguments ranging from the feasibility to promote seventeen goals to the necessity of their implementation. That being said, the only common part between the two sides is the need to inform as many as possible about these goals. And this is where Model UN comes into the game.
Before analyzing how a simulation can be sustainable, let’s clarify this- Do not expect from the muniverse to stop climate change, in fact, if you believe that something like that is possible then you are way too romantic for this era. If you have realized though, that a conference can be used as a gateway to information and connections, then keep on reading.
First things first, the Goals will always be out there and will be calling you to act towards their implementation no matter we are in 2030, 2063 or 2100. Their name will change, but the question will always remain the same. For example, going green and minimizing the paper used in your conference is not an innovation for crying out loud- less money, less after session cleanup and more trees for us to enjoy; common logic.
·An SDG themed conference- if your region is particularly affected by a problem tackled in the SDGs, you can dedicate an annual session and have one goal examined in your committees. Then, regarding the results you may try to pass conference reports at a local community organ/wider regional one; under the prerequisite that these documents are of a certain quality not just for the mun prestige of it. The customary practice has MUNs incorporating one special committee where people are particularly excited to participate in, resulting in these organs becoming permanent later on. Do not go into repeating the boring conversations, deep into it and flame it up Model UN style!
·Regardless of deciding to do so, you can always have promotional pre-conference activities directed towards a goal that you deem to be the most important/interesting. For example, if there is an NGO running the conference, it can easily partner with another NGO and have a common study trip based on an SDG that would have been examined during that year's conference.
·Simulate the SDG summit: Every year, an evaluation summit to track the progress of the SDGs is taking place. It is the perfect opportunity to see not only which countries accept to submit a report and participate in this special session but actual problems that occur throughout the implementation process. It can easily turn into a crisis…
·A mini-preparatory SDG session: Are you training for an upcoming conference and you want to brush up your society’s skills? Then pick a goal and declare the mock session open!
·Have a study guide section on them: SDG themed committee/conference aside, most of the MUN agendas out there can be connected to one of the SDGs, so how’s about giving a tease on the SDG in question as well? After all, sharing is caring…
·Repetition is the key: Have SDGs mentioned in your resolutions template-whenever that is possible; either as a preambulatory clause or as one of the last ones, you know before writing down that your organ “decides to remain active on the matter” Even better, take it to the streets and spot simple challenges for your team to start undertaking, wavy and influential project will come right after!
·Contests-according to the conference’s financial dynamics, there may be a “give away ” of free participation spots to anyone who advocates passionately for the SDGs between annual editions, OR if any of member of the chairing personnel is found to be a good SDG advocate could get some sort of remuneration-criteria to be determined ad hoc; Same applies for any charity initiative happening during the conference (some conferences have the option of offering flowers/chocolates/lollipops along with a funny/flirty note and donate the money to a charity that they have chosen beforehand)
A general comment would be that equality is the most analyzed goal with many equality in conferences activities gradually spreading around the muniverse. Special society sessions focusing exclusively on "Women in Model UN" have been generating mostly positive remarks so far. Let's also not forget that "going green" has evolved into a great excuse for MUNs whose budget/administration is not adequate to provide printed draft committee documents. On an alerting note, disabled MUNers (wheelchair users eg.) and lgbtqi MUNers are still singled out and when included at any type of simulation they will always make headlines for some reason that I am failing to understand.
The suggestions above are limited to the academics/logistics of a conference; below are some proposals with regards to mun networking:
- Sign up for an SDG data provider- various organizations are looking for partners that will help them create the necessary database in order to follow up the evolution of a certain goal. In other words a cool brand for you and a pretty interesting experience overall. It goes without saying that if there is a UNIC branch in the region, their assistance in every possible aspect is equal to a surprise from Santa –Claus, do not hesitate to drop them a line!
- Gearing up to implement a MUN inspired idea is fantastic, BUT please do not inbox me to help you expect that I have a somewhat obligation or the time to do so. If you want me to be a part of your team, you will have to hire me, simple as that.
- Last but not least, your local UNA. Do not laugh or sigh. UNAs and by extension WFUNA is the actual link between youth and UN. Do not look around for creating new links, when there is one that you are ignoring. If your UNA is inactive, or your UN youth is problematic, it takes an e-mail to have them reaching out to you for assistance. At the moment, it is the only active body along with EYANET, where MUNers can interact and discuss in a safe environment potentially serious ways to co-operate. I am mentioning this, in case you want to take a step ahead and use your conference’s platform as a potential first step to the realm of actual diplomacy, if not any informative action is more than enough. Remember that as a MUN organizer you are not charged to change the world at once but to plant the seed of creative doubt (cliché, but be honest, you like it)
That’s it for me, should you think or have seen any other low-cost and useful way to simulate sustainably, let me know!
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