By Sofia Podini, Sofia Gaviria and Daniel Jacob (British International School of Washington)
On Wednesday, 7 June, 30 British International School of Washington students arrived at UNICEF headquarters in New York, along with students from the Nord Anglia International School of New York and Léman Manhattan Preparatory School. The purpose of our visit was to attend UNICEF Activate Talk on Oceans, a discussion around Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #14, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.
When we got to the UNICEF headquarters we were immediately led to a room where we would get to hear some environmentally inspiring youth. Before listening to the motivating panelists, we watched the World’s Largest Lesson, a short film about the challenges we face in the world. The film got us thinking about how important the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are and the role that we can play in making our world a better place. Then, we listened to key speakers like Karan Jerath, one of the Sustainable Development Goals Young Leaders, who created a device that helps to contain oil spills at the source.
After, we listened to a talk by Isabel and Melati Wijsen from Bali, Indonesia, an island surrounded by water. The Wijsen sisters, alongside other young people, created the charity Bye Bye Plastic Bags whose aim is to reduce pollution caused by the overuse of plastic bags and increase recycling in Bali.
Following the presentations, one of our students, Daniel Jacob, had the opportunity to share an SDG project he had been working on in SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) class. Daniel, and his friend, James, ran a project to raise money and awareness for the Marine Megafauna Foundation in Mozambique. In total, they raised over $1000. At the UNICEF Activate Talk, Daniel had the opportunity to share the experience of raising money and awareness for this charity. It was a great opportunity for a Nord Anglia student to demonstrate that even a small contribution can make a significant difference to life below water and the achievement of the SDGs.
We took so much away from the Activate Oceans Conference. We learned some very influential facts about the oceans, such as one billion people (a seventh of the world’s population) depend on the ocean for survival. We also came out of the conference with a new passion to support preserve and protect life below water and support SDG #14. Instead of using plastic bags, try to use a reusable bag. By choosing to reuse and recycle, you’re not only saving the lives of innocent animals but also helping the lives of a billion people.
Once we returned to Washington, D.C., we had a meeting and shared ideas to bring more awareness to the SDGs in our schools and shared ideas on what we can do in our community to help solve not only SDG #14 but others as well. A few of our ideas included a play for primary students to teach them what the SDGs are and how they can help, possibly petition to try and make recycling easier for schools, and reuse our old uniforms and clothes to make reusable bags.
As a result of our trip to UNICEF, we were then invited to attend a presentation by Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice President, of the 2030 Development Agenda, United Nations and Partnerships at the World Bank. During this presentation, we learnt about how the World Bank is working alongside the United Nations to support the achievement of the SDGs in developing countries through collection of data, financial support and implementation of projects.
We are really looking forward to the next school year to see our ideas and inspirations become a reality as we work together to do our part towards achieving the SDGs by 2030!