Harnessing the youth’s voice for sustainable development at the 6th annual Model United Nations Namibia High School Conference

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek and MTN Business Namibia, with the support of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MoEAC), are hosting the 6th annual Model United Nations Namibia (MUNNAM) High School Conference from 7-8 June 2017 at the Safari Court Hotel and Conference Centre.

Seventy-five learners from the Khomas, Erongo and Otjikoto regions will represent various countries as delegates throughout the two-day conference, which was officially launched after an opening ceremony on 7 June.

In line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this year’s MUNNAM High School Conference topics will focus on, “Harnessing the Green Economy to Eradicate Poverty” and “Improving Coordination in Humanitarian Reponses to Natural Disasters and other Emergencies.”

Highlighting the importance of these topics for the global population, UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Kiki Gbeho pronounced that, “The topics are in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda of action aimed at eradicating poverty, saving the planet and ensuring prosperity for all by 2030.” She further noted that, “We will not accelerate development nor eradicate poverty if we do not find solutions to climate change and disasters.”

She concluded, saying, “At the UN, our messages on young people is clear: young people need to be empowered, educated and employed. If we invest in our young people today, we will harness the rewards tomorrow.”

The ultimate goal of the conference is for the delegates to work out solutions to the topics that is agreeable to all involved. Through experiencing real-life, problem solving approaches as applied at international conferences during consensus building, problem solving, negotiating and conflict resolution, learners will be exposed to international conference etiquette. This will acquaint students with various diplomatic skills such as: situation analysis to formulate an argument, strategic decision-making under pressure, research application and professional, interpersonal engagement.

In her keynote address, the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Ms. Sanet Steenkamp commended the MUNNAM programme, noting that, “The skills you gain through the Model UN experience will heighten your global awareness. Therefore, I am excited to see every Namibian child present here today, emerge as global citizens becoming well versed not only in local issues facing young people today but also global challenges.”

“It is imperative that we create a learning culture here in Namibia: by asking challenging questions, engaging in discussions and coming up with creative solutions to said questions and by expanding your horizons beyond the curriculum and feeding your mind with knowledge and experience,” Steenkamp said.

The Model UN programme, an international programme, was launched by UNIC Windhoek in Namibia during 2012. To date, over 500 students have been actively engaged through the programme which has contributed to honing their leadership skills as well as writing, public speaking and problem solving skills through hands-on experiences.

MTN Business Namibia has been a proud sponsor of the MUNNAM programme since its inception. Addressing delegates at the opening ceremony, Mr. Keith Handura, Business Development said, “Since MUNNAM’s inception in 2012, MTN Business Namibia has partnered together with the United Nations Information Centre Windhoek to provide a platform to expand education in Namibia which has been a part of MTN’s social commitment initiative, 21 Days of Yello Care, for the past 6 years. MTN’s 21 Days of Yello Care programme is an annual employee voluntarism initiative.

MTN Business Namibia has sponsored cash prizes as an incentive for the General Assembly Session, encouraging learners to perform to the best of their abilities during the duration of the conference. At the award ceremony on Day 2, the Best School and the Best Delegation will receive NAD 3,000 and the Best Speaker and Delegate will receive NAD 1,500 from MTN Business Namibia.

UNIC Windhoek’s National Information Officer, Anthea Basson, encouraged the students to continue fulfilling a diplomatic role, even when the conference is over.

Model United Nations (MUN) conferences are held worldwide and are an educational vehicle for the youth and are committed to providing engaging learning opportunities through a proud tradition of debate, idea-sharing and innovation. The MUN programme is one of the most effective methods of promoting youth empowerment and leadership.