Speaking at the United Nations!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit the United Nations headquarters in New York to represent De Montfort University on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of aims focused on creating a better future for all of us and making sure it is sustainable, helping those in the present, but also not restricting people in the future. Instead, they will be able to live long fulfilling lives where all parts of society are represented, accounted for and have the materials they need to survive. The goals are extremely interconnected and rightly so! Therefore an action you take could help to solve multiple global goals and I personally think that is both amazing and inspiring. So you should definitely get involved!

Here are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

1. No poverty

2. Zero hunger

3. Good health and well-being

4. Quality education

5. Gender equality

6. Clean water and sanitation

7. Affordable and clean energy

8. Decent work and economic growth

9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure

10. Reduced inequalities

11. Sustainable cities and communities

12. Responsible consumption and production

13. Climate action

14. Life below water

15. Life on land

16. Peace, justice and strong institutions

17. Partnership for the goals

In particular, we presented our projects to delegates at the 67th DPI NGO Conference (Department of Public Information and Non-Governmental Organisations) working to implement the SDGs through projects concerning refugees and asylum seekers in Conference Room 3. To put this in perspective, the conference is significant in the United Nations calendar of events, as it is the premier event for NGOs.

Additionally, I had the chance to talk to Maher Nasser – Director of Outreach at the UN and was inspired by his story as a Palestinian and his commitment to running marathons within New York City to give several young women, from both Palestine and Syria, scholarships to study at a university level -something which would be difficult without the guidance and financial support.

In the near future, I’ll be putting my project ideas into action. This will involve students buddying up with refugees and asylum seekers to record the challenges they face in Leicester and thus, raising awareness of these difficulties in the city and pushing for action so that these citizens get the support they deserve. I hope to champion SDGs 1, 2 3, 4, 5, 10, 16 and 17 throughout this project.

Also during our trip, we took part in an SDG strut; this was a march to increase awareness of the goals around the city through chants, stickers, and conversations with members of the public. This was a fun and creative thing to be part of to show our support for the goals and it was a way to tell people what we’d like to happen in the future.

Another thing I cannot forget to mention is the volunteering we did for Catholic Communities. This centre is solely focused on helping those in need and in this case, it is refugees who come to the United States. The staff help refugees access the support they need to be a citizen and live in the United States, including orientation sessions, legal advice and supplies. They help a variety of different refugees in society; from the vulnerable (children and the elderly) to families, making sure they are safe and well.

Whilst we were there, we helped to make toiletry kits for these vulnerable people. This is may sound so basic to us and a right we take for granted, but it is something they often do not have when they arrive in New York City and is therefore so important they have access to these.

At DMU, we seek to do the right thing not the easy thing in all situations and therefore I believe everyone should play their part in the #GlobalGoals working towards #Agenda2030 no matter how hard it may first seem. We are now a global hub for SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – and I will be doing my bit by continuing to encourage my peers on campus to vote in elections, participate in volunteering and truly make a difference to the local community through initiatives like Square Mile and the Student Union.

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Furthermore, I would like to thank De Montfort University, DMU Square Mile and our fantastic Vice-Chancellor, Dominic Shellard, as without these I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to express what I am passionate about in such a symbolic institution in international relations and world politics. It is something I never thought I would get the chance to do and an experience I’ll never ever forget! I am very honoured to have been able to represent my university on such important issues globally. I will continue to play my part in implementing these effectively in my day-to-day life and influence others to do the same.

If some of you would be interested, I’d love to give you some tips on how you can make a change and contribute to being more environmentally friendly frequently and more importantly, sustainable. Especially as a big part of achieving these goals is by spreading the word about the small things we can do in our day to day lives.

We may only be one person out of 7 billion living on this planet, but if we all take a small step to change our lifestyles, we can make a huge difference forever. It’s time to walk the talk taking one step today to do something about the goals, remembering every little action takes us further to the ideal healthy world we want to live in. Tomorrow, I challenge you to take another.

What will you do? Which goals are you passionate about? Let’s #JoinTogether and commit to working towards the Sustainable Development Goals now.

Until next time,

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