As a United Nations Youth Delegate for the Academy for Future Science, I had the opportunity to observe and participate in the energy of the United Nations. In celebration of International Youth Day, the UN held events with the theme of “Transforming Education”. The main conference was entitled “Engaging Youth to Advance Sustainable Cities and Communities”. Among its gifted speakers and inspiring activists were Kehkashan Basu, Jadayah Spencer, Mark Chambers, Soraya Fouladi, and many others. There were many inspiring insights and many great examples of grassroots activism, with the goals of ensuring a sustainable and healthy environment, healing inequality, and shifting our consciousness (that is to say, to help us awaken to the realities of our responsibilities towards the environment and to each other). The tone was, overall, energized and enthusiastic, or as one speaker put it “electric”. Among this enthusiasm, there was also some dissatisfaction with the feeling that all these inspiring words might be lost in the wind. One fellow representative said that all these words are beautiful, and they feel respect for the others involved, but that they needed more concrete action first and foremost. This sentiment was also echoed by the speakers: we can’t wait for our leaders to solve all our problems and we can’t just talk the talk, we need to walk the walk by finding ways to effect change on every level in our lives, and by being resourceful in how we might be able to contribute to the sustainability goals set forth in previous UN conferences. The positive enthusiasm and the deep sense of purpose was certainly the predominant energy in the room, and this carried over beyond the official end of the event. Many Youth Delegates and representatives were eager to network, connect, and share their passionate work with others. I, personally, was very much inspired by all of this, though this feeling was tempered by the dire facts we face as a global humanity. I truly hope to see these sparks of inspiration put into real action, and I find myself energized to try new methods of reaching out to help shift the consciousness and material reality towards a more positive and sustainable future.
Michael Dodin, AFFS Delegate