For years, I have been passionate about humanitarian issues such as global health, childhood development, overpopulation, gender equality, and the list goes on and on. I knew my ultimate dream would be to have a career helping people in some way. These aspirations have led me to look into the work of the United Nations and last week I scored myself a ticket into the Youth and Humanitarian Conference at the United Nations in New York.
The day of the conference -- I did not know what I got myself into at all! I expected it to be a big conference room full of students from surrounding high schools or tourists stopping through on their tours around the UN. But man, was I wrong. Upon entering the building I was asked for identification, and as the lady checked my name off a list I knew something was up. I was given a special pass from the security guard and told to go to the 27th floor. To my surprise, the room the conference was in was not a 300-person auditorium, but rather a small conference room with 10 people sitting around a table.
I instantly knew I did not fit in. I was the youngest person in the room by a good 10 years and did not have a special badge and UN certification as everyone else did. Nope, I was a 20-year-old college student interested in humanitarian efforts just wanting to get my foot in the door and learn more. As the people surrounding the table introduced themselves I could feel my heart stop. I was in a room with delegates from all over the world, leaders in urban planning, humanitarian activists and overall important people.
At this conference I learned...
This past May, over 9,000 people from 153 countries gathered in Istanbul for the first World Humanitarian Summit. This conference was aimed to combat humanitarian issues and inspire youth the get more involved. This conference was inspired by the Habitat III summit (global summit on urban development).
During the WHS it was discovered that humanitarian issues are becoming more and more prominent in urban areas. Eight hundred and twenty eight million people live in slums today and with the increased urban movement that number will compound and create more conflict in the already struggling urban environment. In order to help resolve this problem an agenda of change was created. This agenda on the youth and humanitarian correlates with the Habitat III Urban Development Conference.
A little background behind Habitat III
Habitat III is a global summit created by the United Nations in order to combat housing and sustainable urban development. It is the third conference since the original, which was held in 1976. Habitat III is the best way for the international community to engage and strategize about global issues in development and global development goals.Urban Development is a leading issue currently because even though cities only occupy two percent of total land on Earth, they are responsible for...
Since 1976, the UN has been working tirelessly to create goals and missions to change the impact we have had on the environment. The United Nations has kept track of urban populations since 1976 in order to record the growth and use statistics to better understand what changes need to be made to ensure a better future.
In 1976, urban population was at 37.9 percent, then in 1996 it was at 45.1 percent and in 2016 it is now at 54.5 percent. Urban Development can help reduce poverty and promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity. The building of settlements that focus on sustainable planning is the way of the future.
This past year I took three classes revolving around climate change, sustainability and humanitarian efforts. These were my favorite classes, however it was hard to see my role while we were discussing overpopulation, and CO2 emissions. This experience really put in perspective how I am responsible. No, I didn't singlehandedly create the hole in the ozone layer, and I had nothing to do with the millions of people suffering in the slums of the world. But I am a part of the young generation. I am a youth. I am the future. I am a millennial. As I sat around watching this group of accomplished, intelligent men and women concerned and passionate about the world I noticed the one thing they all said.
They all believe in youth. They all note that youth are the drivers of aid, we respond the quickest in the event of disaster. We are the most passionate and hopeful for the future. We have a reason to change the world and the will and passion to do so. As a child, you dream about becoming the president.The funny thing is, you actually believe that you have the capability to do something as ludicrous as this. As we get older we slowly come to the realization that this is a pipe dream and the likeliness of this happening is extremely unrealistic. We cannot let this passion and hope for the future diminish.
Our best investment is in humanity. We are the solution to our own problem. So, stay young and keep dreaming.