UN Day 2016: Climate Change, a many-sided, urgent and growing threat

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Dawes Glacier calving
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By Flavio Baroffio

On 24th October 2016, GIMUN celebrated the 71st anniversary of the UN Charter, which came into force exactly on this date in 1945, by holding the annual UN Day at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to discuss the current threat of climate change and how young people can tackle it.

The popular event started with the opening ceremony where guest speakers, such as Mr Møller, the Director General of UN Geneva, Mr Maselli, a representative of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs concerning climate affairs, and Ms Silva, a representative of United Nations Environmental Program.

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Mr. Møller gave a very passionate speech in which he pointed clearly out that human activities are challenging the ecological balance and negative consequences this brings along. Food production is one of them and impacts again the poorest and most vulnerable. It is therefore of highest importance to work towards a sustainable development. Mr Møller outlines that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) play an important factor in policy making and can be used as guidelines. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of the success, which has been achieved in Kigali, of the ban of HFCs greenhouse gases. Lastly, he encouraged the civil society to get involved at all levels in order to have a sustainable future for all human beings.

Mr Maselli was telling us about concrete actions which are taken by the Swiss government on an international scale to minder the impact of climate change. He illustrated this on the example of air pollution in Shanghai, China. Due to the trustworthy relationship between Switzerland and China, the Swiss authorities were able to show the Chinese the Swiss approach to decrease air pollution. This lead to a prevention law. Let’s not forget that China is the main polluter in the globe. This law can certainly be seen as a success for the Swiss but more important as a success to combat climate change. Furthermore, Switzerland helped to install an alert system in the Himalayan and Andes mountain area. This system has a strong impact on the protection of agriculture. The information delivered allows farmer in those regions to plan more efficiently which helps to improve their harvest and guarantee food security.

Ms Silva from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) reminded us not to forget the sceptics and deniers of climate change. Climate change is scientifically proven and very largely accepted. However, some people tend to ignore the facts and simply state that climate change isn’t true. So how do you tackle that problem in a post-truth society? Education and engagement. Through education in schools but also business world and engagement of the civil society, we will be able to also convince the sceptics.

In the afternoon, the participants were separated into four different panels where they were discussing a vast variety of topics from oceans, an endangered and neglected source of life, to the need to balance productivity with respect for nature, over the COP 21 and the tricky ecology/politics equation and lastly decarbonization or economic growth: a compulsory choice? The students gained new insights into the problems facing us in the future and surely obtained the right tools to take initiative and combat climate change on a small or large scale.

On behalf of all participants I would like to express my gratitude towards all guest speakers, for their interesting interactions, and of course towards GIMUN, especially Matteo Fetz, for organising this outstanding event.

I would like to end this article by encouraging readers of this blog to take actions on a local, national or even international level to combat climate change. Time is slowly and steady running out. Every action counts and every action will lead to a more sustainable future which is essential if we want future generations to live on a planet where it is worth living on.

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