‘We need to take Cognizance Now’

13 February 2015

‘Taking Diversions and U-Turns: Conversations and Dialogues on Sustainable Futures and Spirituality’, an extremely interesting and rather unique ‘unconference’, was held at Loyola College, Chennai from 11 to 13 February. This was in partnership with The Global Centre for the Study of Sustainable Futures and Spirituality, Malaysia, Loyola University, Chicago, USA, Shikshantar/Swaraj University, Udaipur, Public Media Agency, Malaysia, Development and Civilizations – Lebret-Irfed, Paris, France.

With such different actors involved, the presentations were extremely diverse. Rev. Dr. G. Joseph Antony Samy SJ, Principal and Chairman of Loyola College, Chennai, quoted an astronaut’s view of the Earth. She said it looked so fragile from outer space. It is easy to take it for granted when we live there. Climate scientists tell us how we are facing challenges. So in our daily lives we need to think about how we can go about our daily business but not forget to care for the Earth.

Rev. Dr. M. Albert William SJ, Secretary and Correspondent & Web Master explained what this U-Turn in the title was all about. He said that when we come to zero velocity and find ourselves at the breakpoint, taking a U-turn could only be positive. It should take us towards sustaining natural resources for our children. “Creation is at stake”, he said. “We are at the brink of extinction if we don’t take cognizance and act now”.

UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman was the Chief Guest and brought the essence of the United Nations to this Conference. “When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited India last month”, she said, “he asked what kind of a future do we really want our children and great grandchildren to inherit. Determining this is our moral and political responsibility, he said”. The SG said that at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, he called upon world leaders, business leaders and all the people around the world to be inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s vision and teachings. Mrs. Mehra-Kerpelman congratulated the organizers on planning such a gathering where one can develop initiatives and plans that fit our specific local context, while operating within the larger framework of sustainable development.

Mrs. Nancy C. Tuchman, Founding Director, Institute of Environmental Sustainability from Loyola College, Chicago did exactly this. She shared an amazingly successful initiative taken at their 100-acre campus where they found ways and means of involving their students in the creative experiments of bringing down each one’s ecological footprint. Based on guidelines that had been provided by the United Nations, she said, they had managed to bring down the consumption of energy phenomenally, while at the same time had increased the number of students. Some fascinating initiatives on organic farming on their rural campus, on competitions to keep certain “green” dorms on lowest energy norms were presented.

Delegates from 10 countries were present, from as far as Uruguay. Loyola Colleges are trying to create networks so that each one can learn from the other’s experience. Mrs. Mehra-Kerpelman mentioned the World Bank’s study “Voices of the Poor” which concluded that faith can play a remarkable role in advancing the objectives of the United Nations. Today, when our common goal is crafting a sustainable world that we can pass on to future generations, the importance of the intersection of culture, spirituality and sustainability is more than ever, particularly to help effect the large-scale individual and societal transformations that are crucial to this project.

Vienna Schools Model United Nations: more than 170 highschool students get a first-hand experience of UN decision-making at the Vienna International Centre

13 February 2015

For three days, from 11 - 13 February 2015, the Vienna International Centre (VIC) and the premises of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna transformed into an arena for young people to take part in intense diplomatic discussions and  negotiations,while simulating  a General Assembly meeting.. More than 170 high school students from 20 schools in Vienna, Hamburg, Augsburg and the UNESCO school in Essen participated in this year’s Vienna Schools Model United Nations (VSMUN).

Each participant represented a particular Member State of the United Nations and worked in one of ten committees that had to discuss and develop resolutions on a variety of topics: the right to food, equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI), child labour, Internet freedom, sustainable development goals, third party military interventions, representation and sovereignty, counterfeiting, conflicts over resources and blood diamonds.

“Model United Nations teach you to work together and to understand each other’s positions and different cultures better. In short, they prepare you to live together on this small planet,” said Martin Nesirky, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, when greeting the VSMUN delegates. He also highlighted the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations, being celebrated this year: “2015 is a year in which we look back at the organization’s history, and its many remarkable successes, and take stock of those areas where it has performed less well. But it is also a year in which we look ahead, promoting the final push for the Millennium Development Goals”.

“International cooperation is very important nowadays," said Florian Riepl, high school teacher and organizer of the Vienna Schools Model United Nations who emphasized: “With all of the big challenges that humanity is facing at the moment, like the conflict in the Middle East, Africa and in Eastern Europe, famine, or the increasing social inequality, the United Nations and the international community is an important platform, for keeping the peace and to ensure a dignified life for everyone in this world."

After three days of fruitful work, negotiations and intensive discussions, the simulated General Assembly was held. Some draft resolutions, like the one on  military intervention were not adopted. Students had learned to work together and take into account the interests of other parties. 

Andrea Stoiber, who  chaired one of the committees, said: "The Vienna Schools Model UN is an outstanding opportunity for the students to become a delegate of a particular country and to get a feeling of how difficult it is to reach  international agreement."

"It was very interesting for me to represent Qatar at this simulation. I will definitely take part in another Model United Nations in the future," shared one participant, when asked about the event. 

Vienna Schools Model United Nations is a unique chance for high school students to undertake experiential learning about the work of the United Nations, its decision-making processes through simulation as well as develop skills in debating intercultural communications and allow students to make new friends and share experiences.

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World Radio Day

13 February 2015

World Radio Day was celebrated in Windhoek on Friday, 13 February 2015 by many Namibians who use or make use of this media platform to entertain and inform the masses on a daily basis. This year’s observance of World Radio Day highlighted the involvement of youth in content production of radio programmes.

Many activities were put together to hear the voices of the youth and to highlight the importance Radio play in the life of the Namibian child. Radio programmes are most effective when produced with audience participation, in local languages and with consideration for cultural traditions. Successful features included live public shows, quizzes and village debates

In hype of the actual Day the following activities: a child communication workshop was held aiming to train youth in community radio broadcasting and a panel discussion was held to underline ‘the relevance of radio to the Namibian youth’, were successfully executed to provide prominence to the event.  

The main festivities took place at the Polytechnic of Namibia, Science and Technology building with a live broadcasting-decentralized to all radio stations across the country through the technical support of the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). 

Radio remains the most powerful, and yet the cheapest, mass medium for reaching large numbers of Namibians in isolated areas. 

Information and Communication Technology Minister, Honourable Joel Kaapanda who officiated in the Day’s proceedings at the event said the involvement of young people in content creation would enhance public participation on youth related matters. Honourable Kaapanda, said radio is a good platform to create public debate as it had the widest audience reaching more than 90 % of the Namibian population.

Also, speaking at the event, Dr. Tharcisse Barihuta, UNESCO Windhoek Officer in Charge, said UNESCO is committed to promote youth participation in broadcasting. “Through the funding of the Swedish Development Cooperation, UNESCO Windhoek office is implementing a four -year regional project on “Empowering Local Radios with ICTs”. The project started in March 2012 and covers seven Sub-Saharan African countries, including Namibia, Lesotho and South Africa.  The project’s aim is to address the lack of quality programming of local radios’, in particular inadequacy of reporting on development issues and limited space dedicated to debate relevant issues for the youth,” said Dr. Barihuta. He highlighted that the project offers support on priority areas of public concern, and facilitates the active participation of youth in public debates thus, promoting their own development. He further said UNESCO was also assisting in the establishment of Khorixas Youth Radio in Kunene Region. 

Radio stations in all the regions of Namibia join in on the celebration in the form of outside broadcasting, open days for young people to access radio stations’ studios and co-produce present specific programmes. In Windhoek, about 90 students from 5 schools were afforded the opportunity to visit radio stations and co-present programmes. They were selected through a short essay contest entitled, “What does radio mean to you?” The students said they felt privileged and would like radio stations to include them more regularly in youth programming.

The Namibia National Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO Windhoek Office, the Polytechnic of Namibia, the UNCG Secretariat (UNIC Windhoek) and various radio outlets in country spearheaded the 2015 World Radio day celebrations that were attended by UN Family, public, primary and secondary school learners, students and staff of tertiary institutions, commercial and community radio stations. 

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2015 Radio Day ‘Youth and Radio’

13 February 2015

World Radio Day was celebrated in Windhoek on Friday the 13th by many Namibians which use or make use of this media platform to entertain and inform the masses on a daily basis. This year’s observance of World Radio Day highlighted the involvement of youth in content production of radio programmes. 

Many activities were put together to hear the voices of the youth and to highlight the importance Radio play in the life of the Namibian child. Radio programmes are most effective when produced with audience participation, in local languages and with consideration for cultural traditions. Successful features include live public shows, quizzes and village debates.

 In hype of the actual day the following activities: a child communication workshop was held aiming to train youth in community radio broadcasting and a panel discussion was held to underline ‘the relevance of radio to the Namibian youth’, were successfully executed to provide prominence to the event.  

The main festivities took place at the Polytechnic of Namibia, Science and Technology building with a live broadcasting-decentralized to all radio stations across the country through the technical support of the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). 

Radio remains the most powerful, and yet the cheapest, mass medium for reaching large numbers of Namibians in isolated areas. 

Information and Communication Technology Minister, Honourable Joel Kaapanda who officiated at the event said the involvement of young people in content creation would enhance public participation on youth related matters. Honourable Kaapanda, said radio is a good platform to create public debate as it had the widest audience reaching more than 90 % of the Namibian population.

Also, speaking at the event, Dr. Tharcisse Barihuta, UNESCO Windhoek Officer in Charge, said UNESCO is committed to promote youth participation in broadcasting. “Through the funding of the Swedish Development Cooperation, UNESCO Windhoek office is implementing a four -year regional project on “Empowering Local Radios with ICTs”. The project started in March 2012 and covers seven Sub-Saharan African countries, including Namibia, Lesotho and South Africa.  The project’s aim is to address the lack of quality programming of local radios’, in particular inadequacy of reporting on development issues and limited space dedicated to debate relevant issues for the youth,” said Dr. Barihuta. He highlighted that the project offers support on priority areas of public concern, and facilitates the active participation of youth in public debates thus, promoting their own development. He further said UNESCO was also assisting in the establishment of Khorixas Youth Radio in Kunene Region. 

Radio stations in all the regions of Namibia join in on the celebration in the form of outside broadcasting, open days for young people to access radio stations’ studios and co-produce present specific programmes. In Windhoek, about 90 students from 5 schools were afforded the opportunity to visit radio stations and co-present programmes. They were selected through a short essay contest entitled, “What does radio mean to you?” The students said they felt privileged and would like radio stations to include them more regularly in youth programming.

The Namibia National Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO Windhoek Office, the Polytechnic of Namibia, the UNCG Secretariat (UNIC Windhoek) and various radio outlets in country spearheaded the 2015 World Radio day celebrations that were attended by UN Family, public, primary and secondary school learners, students and staff of tertiary institutions, commercial and community radio stations. 

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