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Youth Summit Session Four

View of the conference room during UN MUN Youth Summit Session 4

Session Four: “The Environment, Sustainable Energy, Life on Land: Standing Up for the SDGs”

[Presentations by students]

"Project Vruksh" (SDGs 13,15)

Kashvi Jaggi and Atmi Shah are the founders of Project Vruksh, a long-term tree-planting drive (Vruksh translates to “trees” in Sanskrit). The project aims to address SDGs 13 and 15 -- Life on Land and Combating Climate Change, respectively.

As Shah remarked, “If we don’t take action to help... then we probably will not be left with life on land anymore in a couple of years.”

Jaggi describes exactly how Project Vruksh had taken root, no pun intended: In 2017, the India's International Movement to United Nations (of which Jaggi is a leader) decided to transition from “talk” to “action.” “We keep criticizing that the United Nations doesn’t do enough. As the youth, what is our role?” said Jaggi.

Already, the youth involved with Project Vruksh had taken significant action to address the SDGs, especially in the countries most impacted -- economically and physically -- by climate change (including in South Asia and Australia). From 2017 onwards, they counted 84,650 trees planted, involving 7,500 schools from around the world.

For 2025, the Project hopes to plant 100 million trees. Jaggi declared, “You may argue that it’s going to take Harry Potter and his friends to actually make this come true… but the magic everyone sees, the letters from Hogwarts, we are in this room.”

"Sustainable Energy and Climate Change" (SDGs 7, 13)

Graduate engineering students Aldrich Reuel Raj Raja, Vishnu Varun Babu, and Raj Shekar joined the conference from the University of Maryland, College Park. They shared their approach to promoting SDGs 7 and 13 through community involvement.

According to the students, they “spread awareness about energy efficiency, climate change, and green energy through two live demo projects”. These projects used machines that the students had invented to educate people in the community about climate change in an entertaining hands-on manner.

The students called the first of these inventions “Bicycle Powered Lights”. Young children would ride these bikes connected to incandescent, fluorescent, or LED bulbs. “Bicycle powered light bulbs helped us to educate the kids and family about energy efficient lighting” said Raja. This hands-on experience solidified the reality of climate change into the minds of the kids participating.

The second project consisted of what the students called “Solar Powered Fountain Pumps”. “The kids were asked to cover the solar panel with a board and see how the water pumps stops working, then removing the board puts the pump back to work,” said Shekar. “Not only the kids, but the parents were questioning the feasibility of acquiring solar generation”.

“Resources such as solar energy and green energy needs to be known, so that it is available to future generations,” said Shekar. By creating fun ways to engage with green energy and solutions to climate change, these engineers are doing just that.

“Thirst Project” (SDG 6)

Ever since Justine Wu, a high school senior in California, attended a Model UN conference in the eighth grade that focused on safe drinking water, she has been dedicated to eliminating the water crisis that has spread across the world.

Wu was the representative for the Thirst Project at the Youth Summit. She began by introducing the goals of the project and the work it has accomplished so far.

Currently, the Thirst Project is the world’s largest youth water organization. They aim to target SDG 6 -- to provide safe and clean drinking water to everyone everywhere -- along with SDGs 2 through 5 and 8.

Members of Thirst Project travel to developing countries to build fresh water wells. They also offer free 40-minute presentations to educate students about the global water crisis.

Wu said, “The project challenges students to take action with the Thirst Project in unique ways.”

The wells have proven to be extremely successful; they are efficient in providing people with clean water and have helped 80,000 people in different countries all across the world.

“Thirst Project spends a lot of time testing the ground water to test the standard of sustainability,” Wu said. “They train the local community to teach them how to maintain these wells.”

The Thirst Project has built over 2600 wells and continues to do so each day.

Wu strongly emphasized another goal of the Thirst Project -- the importance of educating communities about the global water crisis. She then showcased events that support the Thirst Project that students can initiate in their schools.

Miracle Minute Fundraising was one such event. Students run around a room to collect as much money as possible in one minute. The fundraiser is simple and easy to do, especially after educating them about the consequences of the global water crisis.

The global water crisis is a major issue. Fortunately, projects like the Thirst Project aim to help eliminate these growing issues. Wu ended by stating, “Your actions can change the lives of people worldwide.”