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Youth Summit Closing Segment

Speakers at the closing segment of the UN Model UN Youth Summit

Closing Ceremony

After four sessions of speakers and presenters, the summit moved to the closing segment.

The segment began with a forum style interview with Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. In brief, she described her role as “bringing the United Nations closer to young people and bringing young people closer to the United Nations.” This could not be more important in a world where multilateralism is threatened by many world leaders.

Growing up in Sri Lanka during a period of thirty years of war, Wickramanayake worked tirelessly “getting more and more young people to get involved with voting and taking political action.”

“We wanted to get more young people into politics.” she said. In a country where the average age was 75, she explained that she wanted to bridge the gap among voters.

Through her work with youth growing up and at the United Nations, Wickramanayake said she had had both positive and negative experiences. The best of these experiences she said was meeting people “where they are and where they are comfortable. I’ve had meetings with young people in schools, markets and even under trees”.

The worst of these experiences was the stigma that there was a correlation between old age and wisdom. “There is stereotyping; if you are a young person, people think that there is a certain way you should behave,” she said.

Through these experiences, Wickramanayake left conference attendees with this advice: “We need to act together. We need to be more organized. A lot of these solutions are massive in size… But a lot of these things start with a single person.” Demonstrations and involvement in youth groups would be the key to dramatic change.

The closing segment then moved on to the second speaker: Ryan Kaminski. Kaminski is the Senior Program Manager for Human Rights and Special Initiatives at the UN Foundation (UNA-USA).

Kaminski listed several events that could help students spread their ideas, including the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference that would take place in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also mentioned a new Model UN app that would help students further engage with the issues they had talked about at the conference.

Maher Nasser, the Director of the Outreach Division of the UN Department of Global Communications, was the final speaker at the Youth Summit.

Nasser began by expressing his concern over the growing problems that have yet to be solved in the world. “My children may not have a better life than mine,” said Nasser. However, he believed that the work being done by youth would lead to a better future. He emphasized the importance of coming together to finding a solution.

“The SDGs is what gives me hope that my children will have a better future than mine… The beginning of your engagement is how to connect the simulations of the UN to finding solutions and actions to get us to a better place,” he said. 

The UN Model UN Youth Summit welcomed 430 people from 30 different countries. Nasser concluded the session, saying, “Don’t forget; we want to hear from you. We want this to be the beginning, not the end.”