5 March 2008
Press Release
Note No. 6128

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Note to Correspondents




The theme of the thirty-second annual United Nations International School–United Nations (UNIS-UN) Conference is The Pursuit of Energy:  A Catalyst for Conflict.  The Conference will be held on Thursday and Friday, 6 and 7 March, in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations.

In recent years, there have been numerous problems concerning the availability of energy around the globe.  Our reliance on energy and our need to find alternative sources have caused a great deal of worry amongst the scientific and political communities.  This ongoing crisis has scientists and people across the globe searching for possible methods of obtaining and sustaining energy.  From solar and hydro power to the importance of energy sustainability, the global pursuit of energy promises to shape the modern world.

This year’s UNIS-UN Conference will address the numerous energy problems that the world faces today and hopes for the future regarding its effect on the political, environmental and social aspects of our lives.  Energy dependency, its sustainability and the debatable alternate energy sources are the fundamental topics that will be discussed throughout the two days of the Conference.  Through close examination of this energy crisis, we hope that attendees will gain insight into this pressing issue, as well as draw their own conclusions based on the available evidence.

This year, the distinguished speakers include Carlos Alejaldre, Deputy Director-General of ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), who is best known for his work with fusion power as a viable source of energy.  Other speakers include Mark Crandall of PostScriptum Limited, who will discuss developed countries who aim to achieve energy independence through the use of biofuels and bio-to-mass energy, and Lucas McConnell, President of the Renewergy Corporation, who will present evidence as to why algae is the most practical alternative energy source.  The Conference will conclude with a student panel addressing the question, “Is nuclear power the best way to meet the escalating energy needs of the planet, or do alternative energy sources provide a viable alternative?” followed by a presentation of student produced and selected films on this year’s topic of energy dependency.

The UNIS-UN Conference is organized and run by UNIS students in the Upper School (Tutorial House).  The UNIS-UN Committee begins preparations for the Conference nearly a year in advance, finding and researching a topic of global relevance, drawing up a list of speakers, inviting several hundred students from schools all over the world, managing UNIS Tutorial House debates, and compiling a Working Paper of articles, written and edited by members of the UNIS-UN Committee, pertaining to the topic.

The structure of the UNIS-UN Conference is designed to provide students with expert knowledge through the experience of provocative guest speakers.  The Conference also endeavours to give students a platform to express and debate their own opinions and views in arguably the most internationally significant gathering place on Earth.  More than 600 students hailing from six continents will attend the Conference.  By outlining some of the issues that dominate the discussion of the current energy crisis, the UNIS-UN Committee hopes that this year’s Conference will foster awareness of alternative energy sources, a subject of great challenge in the twenty-first century.  The Conference will be webcast on both days.

For further information, please contact Sylvia Fuhrman, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNIS, tel.:  212 963 8729, or the United Nations International School, tel.:  212 584 3108, e-mail:  unis-un@unis.org, Internet:  www.unis.un.org.

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For information media • not an official record