As I sit typing this on our 17-hour flight back to NZ, unable to sleep, I’m able to reflect on the fastest 2 weeks of my life, and in particular, what I learned in the 3 days of the forum. The sessions were all very different but very informative, to the point where I’m a little overwhelmed (or maybe just a little jetlagged!).
Before I could take a break, 2018 has already come to an end. In just less than 2 hours, I will be hopping on a 24-hour flight to Geneva, transitioning at Doha. It has been a rather tough year, transitioning into first year university and officially moving out of home, plus constant travelling around the country and the globe. Since attending the 9th University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS) this August in Bangkok Thailand, I have been anticipating attending the UN BHR – United Nations forum on Business and Human Rights conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Although it is not my first time in Europe, it will be my first time flying alone to one of the world’s diplomatic capital since I turn 18.
My very first UN experience occurred earlier this year in Bangkok Thailand, where I was selected as one of the two young journalists in the southern hemisphere on behalf of YRE (Young Reporters for the Environment) global to attend the conference. The experience I have gained from this conference was rather eye opening, as it made me realized that climate change affects all aspects and it is interconnected with all parts of the SDGs. Unlike my two-other amazing delegates Katrine and Libby, I am someone who comes from a strong background of environmentalism, I have focused my activism work around climate actions and environment protection rather than human rights. In saying so, I do have high expectations for this conference as I am going in with an open mind, hoping to hear about some of the world’s most complex problems in person and network with other youth delegates in a global scale.
Leading up to my departure from Auckland, I had some time to reflect on how I would maximise my time in Europe. One particular thing that has crossed my mind is what is the one thing I would like to learn more about, from attending a conference that is in a field that I am unfamiliar with. Just as I was typing away on my laptop and reading upon recent articles, a NZ herald article with the title of “Air New Zealand scraps single use plastic from flights” caught my attention. With the biggest New Zealand airline removing a further of 14 single-use plastic products from its flights over the next year, this sure is good news on reducing anymore single use plastic heading into landfill. Just like that, a thought occurred to me – heading into a UN forum based on business and human rights, I could possibly research into how more NZ business can become more sustainable and contribute to reducing carbon footprints locally. The forum is a perfect opportunity for me to ask the question of how local business in NZ can to be more sustainable; how can we help small enterprise to learn the impact climate change has on them and reduce importing plastic packaging from overseas; lastly, how can we as consumers create a difference in the supply-chain process?
And just like that, anxious and excited at the same time, I am on my way to Geneva. In a year filled with ups and downs, I cannot be readier to expand my horizons furthermore and get to know my other two delegates on our 11-day journey in Europe.