You are here: Grassroots inspiration: news and views from UNA-UK's youth wing

This regular section features the latest news and articles from our youth members and branches across the UK. More information can be found at www.una.org.uk/youth

 

UNYSA gets the goals

350 students and members of UNA-UK’s youth wing, the UN Youth & Students Association (UNYSA), crammed into the Institute of Education on 23 November 2010 for UNYSA’s campaign launch event. Entitled ‘Get the Goals’, UNYSA’s campaign for this academic year focusses on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

At the event, keynote speaker Josette Sheeran, head of the UN World Food Programme, spoke passionately about her organisation’s efforts in helping to meet MDG 1 – eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. The event also featured a lively panel discussion with Janos Tisovszky (UN Regional Information Centre), Imogen Martineau (UN Environment Programme) and Andrea Paltzer (WFP UK office), who answered students’ questions on the MDGs and working for the UN.

Globally, one person in seven does not get enough food to be healthy. Hunger and malnutrition continue to be the number one risk to health world- wide – greater than AIDS, malaria and tubercolosis combined – even though there is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment MDG 1 have yielded substantial results, with east and south-east Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and north Africa on track to halve the proportion of hungry people by 2015. But sub- Saharan Africa and south Asia still have a long way to go. When people are  hungry, all other development activities are thwarted – they can concentrate on little other than their next meal – so achieving Goal 1 is vital for the achievement of all MDGs.

Young people challenge the UN Security Council to do more

“What does peace and security mean in the 21st Century? What about human security?” asks Emma from the UK. Hani from Lebanon wants to know “if a dispute was to originate in one generation between two nations, how is it that the same dispute ignites a war nearly 50 years after?” Jelena from Serbia and Alexander from Kenya are worried about the lack of sustainable energy sources and conflict over resources, while Bashir from Yemen and Gloria from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) say all they want is peace.

These are some of the concerns raised by young people participating in the first UN Security Council youth event on 21 December 2010. To mark the International Year of Youth (August 2010-August 2011), the US Mission of the UN, which held the Council presidency in December, invited young people from around the world to submit their thoughts on the question ‘what is the most vital challenge to peace and security facing your generation?’

Over 900 entries from 90 countries were received via email, post, Facebook and YouTube, including several from UNYSA members in the UK. Questions were also put directly to the Security Council by young people from states currently represented on the Council. Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, who chaired the session, said “you have a stake in our debates every day, but today you and your generation will have a voice as well”.