24th October 2019 is United Nations Day, marking the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. #iwill Ambassador Emily Fox reflects here on her social action with the United Nations.
One of my proudest achievements to date was when I was invited to represent De Montfort University at the United Nations in New York for the annual NGO Conference, in order to present ideas for a project that helps refugees and asylum seekers in Leicester. This was not an opportunity I stumbled across, I was selected due to my efforts towards the sustainability agenda within my community and university.
I think the work the UN does around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is particularly important when setting goals for world change. This is why I do my best to educate others on the meaning and significance of the goals. Each one represents things that many of us take for granted, yet which could be gone in an instant.
We must wake up and take action if we are to live.
Soon after my trip, I was excited to bring the SDGs to my university campus, as De Montfort University was made a global hub for SDG 16; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. I soon became involved in relaunching the Model UN society, where we gave students the opportunity to experience a UN simulation at Frederick University in Cyprus.
I then brought the UN locally when I chose to present about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at a UK Youth Voice residential, where I aimed to inspire 30 young people about the impact they can have through a multiplicity of small actions. These were things like using reusable bags and mugs, choosing paper or metal straws over plastic, and donating your old clothes to charity and clothes banks.
I have even had the chance to embed the Sustainable Development Goals within my education. They had been briefly mentioned when I took my Geography GCSE, but it was in my second year of university where we were really encouraged to learn about them. When I started my ‘Politics in Action’ module, I was asked to give an introduction to the goals to my fellow students, as many knew very little about these.
I was able to inform them about the 2030 agenda and how it was vital everyone played their part in achieving it. I was glad that I was able to apply my knowledge to educate others. This would prove to be particularly important when we developed our local community projects around one or two of these goals.
In October 2018, we formed the team for our project idea on homelessness, as we were united around SDG 2 (Zero Hunger). I wanted to build on a project I had completed previously, which was organising a foodbank collection in my sixth form, and was excited to join together with others who were also passionate about this.
Our group of 5 developed a project idea of a soup kitchen, with scope to fundraise for sleeping bags. We presented our ideas – but we were not successful. We were, however, still able to play a large part in a project on Zero Waste, where I got to learn more about SDGs 12 & 14. Later in the year, I helped to organise a gig which raised money and collected goods for a local Leicester charity, Action Homeless.
Last year, I was invited as an SDG champion to speak about my experiences with the United Nations at De Montfort University’s ‘24 Hours for the Global Goals’ vigil. I also spoke on behalf of De Montfort University’s Model UN Society about how we must educate and inform our peers on the SDGs, so as to provide a blueprint on how to live sustainably both now and in the future.
This was particularly important due to De Montfort University’s role as a Global Hub for SDG 16. We have encouraged and educated others on how to create diplomatic discussions on significant global issues, including palm oil.
I would encourage any young person to learn more about what the United Nations does, as well as implement small actions which relate to the goals every day. Let’s make change for the many!
You can follow Emily’s updates on Twitter @FoxyEmily13.