“UNICEF x Japan Youth Dialogue Event” sponsored by the UNICEF Tokyo office was held at the University of Tokyo Komaba Campus.
4 students from, Tamagawa Gakuen and Ochanomizu University Senior High School which are SGH designated schools and 19 Japanese university’s students participated in the event.
They discussed the theme of “fairness” as one of the SDGs with senior officials from UNICEF headquarters.
All dialogue was conducted in English and everyone was committed to ensuring smooth communication.
“To achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the power of creative young people is needed, so we would like to hear a lot from you today.” Stefan Swartling Peterson, UNICEF Chief of Health said in his opening remarks.
Continuing, Mr. Kotaro Koki, the manager of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Cooperation Bureau for Global Issues said “I would like to cooperate with experienced UNICEF workers and young people who have creativity to come up with ideas for a better society.”
With that, the event started in a calm and relaxed way.
First of all, the session began with an introduction of the activities of the university students which were focused on “fairness”.
The Japan University Football Association and the organization “UNiTe”, which was launched mainly by the students of the University of Tokyo, talked about their activities.
The Japan University Football Association explained its’ contribution to th “HIKARI project”, which included the desire “to be someone’s light”. In addition, it fundraising done for UNICEF called “Team UNICEF × JUFA – ONE GOAL ONE COIN -” which aimed to donate 500 yen per goal in the association’s season.
The student organization UNiTe explained about their activities on the “EMPOWER PROJECT” spreading the “Magenta Star”.
The “Magenta star” is a symbol designed to help make shy Japanese people feel more at ease supporting people with disabilities, pregnant women and other groups facing difficulties.
After hearing these versatile ideas, the UNICEF were impressed.
Next, a presentation was given by Carla Haddad Mardini, the Director of the Public Partnerships Division and Junko Kuniwa, a Representative of UNICEF’s Myanmar Office.
Ms. Mardini explained how UNICEF supports children, showing a model called the “co-creation process.” Ms. Kuniwa reported on the current situation in Myanmar and the results of investigations done using the social messaging tool “U-Report”.
As the participating students heard these stories that they would not hear normally, they were able to expand their perspective of international contributions and contributors.
In the question-and-answer session after the presentation, students from Tamagawa Gakuen asked several questions. “How can you change the cultural way of thinking in countries where children are not being protected?” Students exchanged opinions on different activities to help understand how best to address the issues.
After the presentation, a discussion was held that led from the question “What actions are necessary from young people to eliminate inequality?” “What kind of activities would you like to take part in with UNICEF?”
Some comments and questions that were asked were things like “Should we appeal to the governments of each country, or should we work like a grassroots campaign? What should we do as young people?” “How does UNICEF appeal to people and provide support?” ” I’m interested in various social issues, but should I just focus on one? ”
To those questions and opinions from the participants, the UNICEF staff responded, quoting their experiences and advice received from their superiors.
“To achieve the goals of the SDGs requires your strength, everyone’s activities are leading to changes for children in the world”
Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa gave the closing message saying, then the event ended. Afterwards, participants and the UNICEF staff continued to discuss various topics and exchange opinions.
By learning about the way of thinking of people who work at the forefront of global problem solving in an international organization, the students were able to build enthusiasm for global issues.
In order for everyone to create a fair and happy world, the students became aware of things they could do as young people and the experience led to a deepening of their understanding of the world.