Friday, February 12, 2016

What was going on in the Cimmitting to SDGs

Committing to the SDGs was an interesting topic of the CTAUN conference. Getting to know about the panelists was very interesting based on different reasons. One of the main reasons, Committing to SDGs panelists were interesting was because they are young, enthusiastic, energetic, and from different nations. All the speakers are currently based in the US and are thinking about different ways to raise awareness about the SDGs and to reach out to as many people as possible in different regions of the world. There were brilliant examples of leading youth initiating activities that engage the minds of people and advocate for the SDGs.

Several interesting speakers presented their inspirational stories during the afternoon roundtable at CTAUN. Moderator of the session was Rohit Pothukuchi, the founder and president of Verdentum. Verdentum meaning “green moment” is a non-profit social network that connects students around the world in their attempts to find solutions to global issues. In this unique initiative students get in touch with policy makers on different levels – UN officials, governors. Students are given a significant problem to think and work on. They connect with peers from other countries who sometimes live in remote regions. These international teams collaborate and communicate through videoconferences. What is unique and especially important about the idea of Verdentum is that after finding solutions to the problem pupils are encouraged to take real actions and to be part of something global e.g. to clean their local lake or reducing their school’s energy consumption by5 %. In case you want to learn more about this great idea, visit

Mark Wise presented another amazing idea. Currently Wise is the K-12 Supervisor for Curriculum and Instruction for West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in New Jersey. This project is called the Global Challenge. It is a five-day intense and student-led activity for 8th-graders. Students are given one school week to solve a global challenge and to develop an action plan which should be presented to UN officials and other institutions. During these five days students work independently in teams and control their class time. No teachers are involved in the project. Students have four days to create their plan and a day to prepare its presentation. During this week students are in charge of their own learning. Classes stop and they focus their efforts on only one issue. Wise shared that students are excited to be empowered and to explore their ideas. In the end of this week students’work is scored but not graded. The winning team presents its action plan to experts in the country. More importantly, the district uses the data it collects during the implementation of this project in order to assess the district’s efforts to prepare kids.

Tonya Muro who is the new Executive Director of iEarn - USA spoke about the importance of connecting people around the world and uniting their efforts for a common goal. You can learnmore about the organization by visiting its website Currently iEarn is made up of more than 30,000 schools and youth organizations from 140 countries.

Maxine Davila, the founder of 1+One: Networking for a Better World shared her experience from working with marginalized members of society mainly Puerto Ricans from New York. She mentioned the lack of information about global issues in such groups. Therefore, she created a newsletter which raises the awareness about the SDGs.

Conferences such as CTAUN definitely improve the advocacy for the SDGs because educators are the ones who can further spread the knowledge and educate other people, work with them and try to commit to SDGs. Educators are some of the agents of change who can work with people in order to implement the goals and turn them into practical actions. These actions could be carried out by three elements, first - individuals, second - communication and the third would be multiplying and carrying on such communications about SDGs at a local, national and then global level.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lehigh Students Serve as Rapporteurs at the 2016 CTAUN Conference

Hours before Winter Storm Jonas hit New York City on Friday, January 22, the 2016 Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN) Conference successfully concluded an informative day filled with panels, presentations, and discussions at United Nations Headquarters.

This year’s CTAUN Conference, titled, “Stewardship for a Sustainable World: Education in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” focused on a range of topics related to the SDGs, such as the process of drafting the SDGs, crucial differences between the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the SDGs, and the importance of spreading awareness about the MDGs in order to achieve them. The morning panel addressed various aspects of the goal of ending hunger, and the afternoon panel stressed the need to respect the environment.

Sitting a few rows away from the speakers, a Lehigh University group of Fulbright students, UN Youth Representatives of NGOs, and Global Citizenship Program members took detailed notes and prepared to ask questions. Their participation in the conference extended well beyond attendance, including the additional opportunity of contributing to a conference blog and serving as official rapporteurs covering the sessions.

David Méndez Martinez, a Lehigh Fulbright student from Panama studying to achieve an M.A. in Education, said, “The CTAUN Conference provided insight about how leaders around the world got together to create and deliver to the world the SDGs.” He added, “I liked how leaders who were present during the negotiation of the SDGs expressed their thoughts and what educators should do to help the UN.”

Sam Waldorf, a senior in Lehigh’s Global Citizenship Program, said that he enjoyed observing educators’ enthusiasm for learning about the SDGs. “In order for these goals to be successful,” he said, “it is important that people around the world are educated about these lofty goals.”

Throughout the conference, several central points emerged.

Paramount to the conference itself was the recognition of educators and their pivotal role of teaching about the SDGs. During the introductory session, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach stated, “Education is a critical building block of any society. Educators are fundamental to achieving the goals of the UN.”

After explaining how the SDGs carefully evolved through the negotiating and drafting stages, Ambassador David Donoghue, the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN and Co-Facilitator of the Intergovernmental Consultative Process for the SDGs, also added, “This year is the year of implementation, and we absolutely need the help of everyone, especially educators to reach young people.”

Speakers additionally highlighted the powerful sense of shared creation of the SDGs and responsibility for taking action to achieve them. While moderating the afternoon panel on the environmental priorities of the SDGs, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Development for the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly, Rima Cempaka, described the September 2015 UN General Assembly adoption of the SDGs. “It was a very emotional moment, because everyone felt strong ownership of it,” she said. Her words demonstrate that the SDGs symbolize a universally empowering project for progress.

The morning panel specifically delved into the second SDG, which is “zero hunger.”  Moving from a presentation on the issue of stunted growth due to malnutrition to another on health food co-ops in Burlington, Vermont, all the presenters promoted the concept that all people have a right to a consistent supply of healthy food. Martin Gallagher, the Senior Liaison Officer on Food Security within the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, summarized the bottom line: “It’s about realizing individuals’ rights.”

Similarly, the afternoon panel also drew attention to individuals’ rights. Juan Chebly, the Lead Advisor of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Coordinator of The World We Want 2015 Policy and Strategy Group, said the UN definition of sustainable development is, “meeting the needs of the current generation without harming future ones.” He added, “It’s mainstream nowadays, but we lose track of what it means—defending the human rights of future generations.”

As a serious side-note, he also spoke on the conflict in Syria, where he said that humanitarian aid workers are being denied access—meaning that innocent civilians are currently starving. He declared, “People cannot be used as instruments of war.”

 The other afternoon panelists also focused on the right of living in a safe environment with the necessary life-supporting natural resources. For example, Dr. Eugene Stakhiv, a Water Resources Engineer and Visiting Scholar at John Hopkins University, cited the fact that “1.4 billion people lack safe drinking water.” Referring to the case in Flint, Michigan, he said that this is “inexcusable,” and that providing safe water “takes time and money, but it’s not rocket science.”

Towards the end of the conference, during the roundtable on committing to the SDGs, the moderator of the afternoon roundtable, Verdentum Founder Rohit Pothusuchi, made an important observation. He emphasized the fact that millions of people all around the world do not have the resources to attend UN conferences to learn about the SDGs. However, they need to be informed and their voices heard, he said, adding, “We have to reach out to everyone.”

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tired of Words, Time for Action

Before talking about committing to a goal, I would like to shed a little light on why are goals set? I personally believe that, every single citizen of this globe may spend countless hours to think about their present life and as well as future. Almost everyone wishes to bring some form of positive change in their lives no matter it is family, individual, friendship, career or finances or a global change for the sake of humanity. We all want to change something. This is where setting a goal comes into existence. Intellectuals set goals for various purposes. Mostly, the goals set, involve leading the life path to a positive direction for either personal aims or devotions that could make the world a better place. No matter, how big or small these goals are everyone, with different approaches would still try their best to work for it and achieve it. Goals are the starting point of success. A good start makes half the success whereas the full success heavily relies on implementation. 

In September 2015, heads of state and governments met at the UN headquarters in New York to agree on a new 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to succeed the Millennium Development Goals and to guide global development over the 15 years to 2030. These goals were set after long meetings and several discussions, arguments, agreement and disagreements; however with a global aim for a better future of the global citizens. There are both pros and cons to the SDGs. For instance, Lindborg comments that, “We need these goals. We need goal 16 as imperfect as it is, in order to advance on the overall agenda.” This script clarifies that not all goals are set perfectly.

Now 2016, after all these agreements, meetings, discussions of setting the goals, is the time to start not to discuss them anymore but to implement them and work to achieve them. As the name of the goals state SDGs, it is time to try and sustain them throughout the world. Participating in the Committee on Teaching about the United Nations (CTAUN) I personally, would like to know more about how have they started implementations and what positive and negative precautions have they planned for implementing them in both the developing and developed countries.
Let's Just watch a short video and I want to know how are these SDGs being implemented and how are we going to commit to them.

Ending Poverty 
Утре, 22.01.2016г., в Ню Йорк ще се проведе седемнадесетата годишна конференция на Комитета за преподаване за Обединените Нации. Тази година конференцията ще бъде на тема „Обучение относно целите за устойчиво развитие“. Както знаете ООН прие 17 глобални цели за устойчиво развитие сред които са изкореняването на бедността, премахването на глада, осигуряването на приобщаващо и равностойно качествено образование и стимулиране на възможностите за учене на всички през целия живот и др. (Повече информация относно целите можете да получите на следната страница Искрено се вълнувам за утрешния ден, защото знам, че ще имам уникалната възможност да чуя говорители от различни части на света, образователни лидери и представители на неправителствени организации, които работят в посока на разпространението на информация относно глобалните цели на ООН, както и обучението и запознаването на младите хора с тяхната значимост.

И тъй като аз самата съм преподавател за мен ще бъде изключително интересно да чуя какво ще споделят говорителите в следобедната кръгла маса. Модератор на следобедната сесия ще бъде Rohit Pothusuchi – един от основателите на VerdentumВсъщност Verdentum е социална мрежа, която свързва ученици от цял свят с политици и хора, които са отговорни за вземането на политически решения в глобаелн мащаб. Идеята зад тази инициатива е учениците да могат да разберат по-добре и от първо лице за световните проблеми и да могат да работят заедно за тяхното разрешаване.

Утре ще мога да науча повече и за организацията на Tonya Muro – iEarn USA. Това е голяма неправителствена организация, в чиито онлайн проекти участват 30 000 училища и младежки организации от 140 държави. .

Нямам търпение да чуя какво ще споделят участниците в конференцията утре. Очаква ме вълнуващ ден утре!!!

Resources, sustainable development, global responsibility, and our pale blue planet.

The current generation of humans is truly living in a unique time period, we are fortunate enough to still enjoy an abundance of resources but have enough awareness to realize a looming danger. Let's skip forward 200 years, the world's population exceeds 12 billion, fossil fuels are becoming scarcer by the day, water that we take for granted is a valuable and conflict inducing resource, and despite the rising need for energy and resources, ironically, the lack of energy and resource is crippling research and efforts into solving these problems. The people of the world of 2216 think back to this era, their perceived golden age of humanity, and see how it was spent in abundance, negligence and missed opportunities to make a better future. Now is the time to prevent this dark future from happening.

This is the opportune time for serious and efficient steps to be taken, we have yet to start feeling the strain of global warming or resource and energy scarcity as a result it is difficult to motivate government and companies into adopting serious sustainable development efforts.

The key to effective and real change are the people. By including and focusing on these matters in education more of the world's population will become aware of these issues and generate pressure for the large entities to move. Change has always comes from the bottom to the top, it begins with the people, and there is no better venue than education to move towards realistic and long lasting solutions, not just flashy slogans and reactionary band-aid action.

 However, efforts to conserve resources and stop global warming cannot be lead by a single entity or government, the UN has to encourage, and most likely lead, a world wide initiative. That initiative might seem like a near-impossible task, but if we do not address it while we have the resources, we will have to battle it eventually but without the resources.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Agenda 2030 ¿Sostenible?

El año 2015 nos ha dejado. 2016 comienza y como tradición nos trazamos varios objetivos. Estas metas u objetivos tienen que ser cumplidos. Así que nos comprometemos de alguna manera con planes, estrategias, y comentarios que son sugeridas por las personas que nos rodean. De la misma manera, la Organización de las Naciones Unidas se ha comprometido en lanzar los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible. En Septiembre del 2015, líderes de cada rincón del planeta se reunieron para acoger  los objetivos globales para: erradicar la pobreza, proteger el planeta y asegurar la prosperidad para todos. Estos objetivos serán lanzados oficialmente el viernes 22 de enero de 2016 del nuevo año 2016.

La agenda de Desarrollo Sostenible será abierta este viernes con la moderadora Anne Marie Carlson, junto a la Secretaria General Cristina Gallach (DPI), el Embajador David Donoghue de Irlanda y Mitchell Toomey, Director de la campaña de los objetivos del milenio/agenda 2030. Estoy más que emocionado para presenciar la apertura de esta agenda, y escuchar a cada uno de los puntos de vista de los expertos. El programa de la conferencia  trae más especialistas y moderadores para poner en marcha los objetivos trazados en el 2015.

En lo personal, los objetivos sostenibles son como los estándares educativos  de los Estados Unidos. Cada uno de ellos parece ser inalcanzables. Abrir esta agenda de Desarrollo Sostenible será una verdadera batalla para cada uno de los líderes del mundo. Por ejemplo, el fin de la pobreza. Personas cercanas a mí me conocen por ser demasiado optimista, pero finalizar el hambre en el mundo sería un sueño hecho realidad. A pesar de ser un sueño casi inalcanzable, y con la inequidad creciendo, mi positivismo se ve empañado con la triste realidad que vivimos con tanta desigualdad. Espero escuchar a los líderes y moderadores sugerencias realistas de cómo disminuir la inequidad que sigue creciendo cada vez más.  También sería bueno destacar que en varios países dicha agenda fue desestimada debido a que no son viables en ese país. ¿Por qué? Porque son países tercermundistas que no tienen sentido del orden, corrupción de altos niveles y deficiencia en los presupuestos para incrementar la educación.

Definitely, the earth worthwhile !

The earth our planet that unifies us, no matter our nationalities, religions, gender or race. paying more attention to its resources is not an option, though it is an obligatory approach that should be adopted by all its residents.

Therefore, The CTAUN conference is a good opportunity to visualize the paramount importance of taking care of earth and to give an alarm to all nations to kick off more initiatives and keep track on progress toward sustaining the environment's resources. 

Considering ourselves in a battle to defend our planet against our ignorance and selfishness and bad habits, I believe recycling is one of our critical weapons that can assist in achieving our objective. Although recycle scientific definition is popular in the whole world, recycling culture is not that much spread, particularly in the developing countries. large investment should be established in those countries by developed one to achieve many goals: first, offer more job opportunities, second, spread the recycling culture, and finally and the most important objective is to conserve our earth.

The projected depletion of fossil fuels urges a lot of developed countries to invest more in research and development of renewable energy conversion systems, like solar cells and wind turbines. Even though  it is a procrastinated move, it is good to be initiated.

To wrap it up, there are plenty of exerted efforts toward conserving our planet, but with consistent waste and unwise use of our resources an inevitable imbalance in the equation will take place. Investing more in recycling projects and techniques, funding research projects that concerning evolving renewable energy conversion systems, and spread creative, effective awareness campaigns especially in the economically disadvantaged community.