While Model UN has typically focused on researching and debating global issues, the United Nations would like to see it evolve into a community that can take real action to support the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

That is why it held the United Nations Model UN Youth Summit on 12 April 2019 in New York.

This one-day event featured workshops and plenaries led by inspiring student leaders and UN experts, who shared their experiences and ideas on how to transform Model UN into a force for positive change. Hundreds of students from 30 countries took part.

“We want you to move the SDGs into the centre of your activities. And the real UN will stand with you, every step of the way,” Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, told students in her opening remarks.

The Secretary-General added, “My generation has failed to bring justice and equality. Your generation needs to correct that.”

During the discussion, representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNICEF, and the United Nations Department of Global Communications told students how they can tap into current SDG campaigns.

Students from Afghanistan, India, Qatar, Spain and the United States also outlined projects they had undertaken. 

One 16-year-old student had founded an organization providing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities to underprivileged youth, especially girls.

Another had coordinated the planting of 84,650 trees, a project that involved 7,500 schools from around the world.

Yet another had been part of a campaign that provided clean water to 80,000 people.

Jayathma Wickramanayake, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth, shared her experiences as a global advocate for the United Nations.

Participants left with a toolkit of ideas, a network of support and a new action-oriented vision for their Model UN clubs and conferences - knowing that they would have support from the United Nations.

Watch videos from the event.