New Delhi: A vast majority of Indian schools have already come to realize that students need to become responsible, inclusive, and global to meet the challenges of the future. Sustainability and global citizenship, which were once thought of as optional choices, are now becoming the new standard, as the entire world moves towards becoming more sustainable, inclusive, and equal, and the same is being reflected in school practices and pedagogies.
In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which inform and guide governments, businesses, and other organizations on sustainable development. A set of 17 goals, the SDGs are an optimistic but comprehensive framework to achieve the future that we all want, which is a world without social and economic injustices, and with a sustainable climate. The achievement of the goals in the long-run doesn’t just lie in the hands of the leaders of today, but is dependent on the leaders of tomorrow; as a global community, it is our responsibility to empower the next generation to take up these challenges now.
The Future Leaders’ Program presented students from across India with the opportunity to do just that through their attendance at Harvard Model United Nations (HMUN) Boston, 2019. Uthra Vinod Menon, a student from Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir Eroor, shared her perspective on the SDGs: “To me, the Sustainable Development Goals are synonymous with the hope for a brighter future. What makes me feel so is that this is an undertaking of the United Nations, an organization where most people in the world have a representative. This belief in the SDGs is born out of my confidence in the UN. I feel that an individual can make mistakes, a single nation can make mistakes but 193 nations with billions of citizens won’t make mistakes without having to sacrifice their lives for that. This faith no matter how baseless it is what makes me a strong advocate of the SDGs.”
Harvard Model United Nations Boston brought together over 3,300 likeminded high school students from 50 nations across the globe to deliberate and discuss today’s greatest global challenges, ranging from Protecting the Rights of Prisoners of War to Reducing Violence and Harassment Against Women. Students from MSB Education Pune, JBCN International School Mumbai, St. Gregorios High School Mumbai, Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir Eroor, Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir Girinagar, Indus International School Bangalore, Choithram International School Indore, and Yadavindra Public School Mohali all embarked on a journey of global citizenship together as part of the Future Leaders’ Program.
In comparison to attending local Model UN conferences, Uthra Vinod Menon said, “One thing I really noticed was that all of the other students genuinely wanted to solve the problems at hand as opposed to what you see in local MUNs where it’s almost always about the rewards. The solutions they brought up were practically possible. They were not solutions for a Utopian world, but ones which could address the problems of a world which had its share of violence and corruption.” Overall, HMUN Boston provided an unbiased, deliberative, and cooperative forum for students to raise their voices with respect to the SDGs, and how to make our changing, modernizing world a better place for all.
“Worldview believes in the positive power for change fostered by the Sustainable Development Goals, which lie at the crux of international development, cooperation, and global education. The Worldview Future Leaders Program sought to inspire students from Southeast Asia to become the next generation of leaders and solvers through participating in an unparalleled international experience with peers from across the world. At HMUN Boston, students took on the roles of diplomats, Presidents, and Prime Ministers, and challenged themselves to debate and negotiate solutions for real-world problems that today’s leaders still struggle with. It is through such experiences that we aim to bring the SDGs to the forefront and empower Generation Z,” said Sampreeth Reddy, CEO of Worldview Education.