On 19 May 2016, the United Nation Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek’s Practicum Programme participants saw the impact climate change has had on Namibia by visiting Avis Dam and finished off the day with a MUN simulation through which the participants discussed the topic of wildlife trafficking.
To start off the day, the UNIC Windhoek team and the practicum students visited Avis Dam, which is one of the three main dams that supply water to Namibia’s Central Region in which Windhoek is located. The students were shocked to see the dam, which is currently completely dry, and exclaimed that it looks more like a football field than a dam.
After learning about the impact climate change has had on Namibia early in the Practicum Programme, the students were able to see firsthand how dry Namibia indeed has become as a result of the drought. The students were deeply concerned about this development and amazed at how fast the drought is affecting the local vegetation and water bodies. In order to encourage a focused dispute over the impacts of the water crisis the students were then divided into four groups and were assigned four different roles: a water company, a low income family, the government and a local game reserve.
The students answered questions about the water crisis and water conservation based on their assumed roles and presented their answers to the other groups. They shared how the water crisis has impacted their entity, where they intend to get water when the water is gone and what ways their entity can conserve water. After listening to each group, the students came to the realization that all sectors of society have been severely impacted by the water crisis and that united action needs to be taken to combat the issue in a sustainable way.
Hereafter the participants took part in an activity called ‘Where do you stand?’ The students stood in a straight line and would step to the right and left depending on if they agreed or disagreed with the statement the UNIC Windhoek team read to them. The statements were related to the SDGs and made the students think about the severity of issues facing Namibia. The activity sparked great conversation and the students were able to see how there are some issues that many people agree upon, while there are others that are quite debated.
The simulation was informative as the students showed great preparedness and zeal for the topic. Every practicum student had prepared an opening speech, position paper and country profile about illegal wildlife trade in their respective country and how it affects their economy, culture and environment as well as relations with trade partners.
The students enthusiastically presented their key points to the audience and were well-informed to answer all questions from other delegations. One recurring argument, which most delegates referred to, was a note about the ineffectiveness of regulations on wildlife trade in their home countries. Most delegations therefore appealed to all other present nations to join forces and create new laws and resolutions that effectively combat illegal wildlife trade in the world.
Delegates from different countries used a short 10 minute unmoderated caucus, to find new allies for their particular action plan and to exchange the latest statistics and ideas on how to effectively build a united workforce. Although undoubtedly some countries are more affected by the issue than others, all delegations persuasively presented their points and statistics on the topic and received great feedback from the audience and the Chairperson.
As the time was running out, the General Assembly had to come to an end before a final resolution could be passed. However, all participants agreed that the mock conference had helped them understand the processes and the system behind the work of the UN. The practicum students also learned to independently research an internationally relevant issue and speak freely and confidently in front of an audience about the given topic.