By Nino Burjanadze
Over the 2022-’23 winter break, while still in my home country Georgia in Eastern Europe, I received an email that would open a new door of opportunities for me. The news that as a sophomore I would be representing Adelphi University at the United Nations left me in disbelief. Having grown up being asked if the prominent Georgian politician whose name I shared meant I would also become a politician, I developed a keen interest in politics, international law and diplomacy from an early age.
As I was exposed to various political issues in my country, I realized that international law and diplomacy were the perfect fit. Thus, I got involved with the United Nations (UN), and at the age of 17, I was selected to be Georgia's Youth Representative to work with UNICEF and the Georgian Parliament to draft the Code of Child. Since then, my goal has been to work with an organization that strives to change the world for the better.
Upon coming to the United States almost two years ago, my goal was to be a good political science student and build a strong career. To achieve this, I joined the Levermore Global Scholars program, which became a bridge between me and the UN. Adelphi received approval as a non-governmental organization by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the United Nations in 2003. As a result, each year, Adelphi sends one or two students to represent our university at the United Nations civil society events and high-level conferences.
The United Nations is the world's most significant global organization with various branches dealing with issues such as human rights, climate change and international security, among others. While we often hear about resolutions adopted in the General Assembly and statements made in the Security Council, there are many aspects of the UN that do not receive enough coverage. One of the primary goals of the UN now is to accomplish and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were first introduced in 2012 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil. The purpose was to create a set of global goals related to environmental, political and economic challenges faced by humanity. In 2015, all UN Member States adopted the 17 Goals as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which set out a 15-year plan to achieve them.
Through attending various meetings, I learned about the different ways the UN utilizes to achieve SDGs. On March 30, I attended the "Civil Society Briefing: Building a Better Future Through Music and Arts," which focused on how arts contribute to achieving different SDGs. One of the panelists, Rolf Stahlhofen, an artist from Germany, founded the organization Water is Right (WIR) in 2011, which raises awareness about the right to clean water and sanitation. WIR has implemented 12 projects in 10 countries around the world, providing millions of people access to clean and affordable drinking water. This project aims to achieve the 6th Sustainable Development Goal that focuses on Clean Water and Sanitation.
Another memorable event was the 10th anniversary of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). I was introduced to the Inter Campus project, which uses football as an educational tool and a social movement. The initiative of Inter Campus is to tackle climate change, promote gender equality and combat racial discrimination. One of the most heartening examples of the Inter Campus project was the construction of a football stadium between Israel and Palestine, which created open spaces for dialogue in contexts of violence that are a daily part of life. Through sports, socialization between Israeli and Palestinian children is promoted, which is a beautiful way to achieve SDGs and peace.
The UN is truly an inclusive, diverse and unique organization that provides a platform for everyone to voice their opinions and experiences. While I may attend meetings with the President of the United States and be star-struck by the Prime Minister of Canada, most importantly, the UN inspires me every day to become a better human being. My internship has just begun, and I have already met many incredible and established individuals who devote their time to achieving the goals that undoubtedly affect each and every one of us.
If you can take away only one thing from this reflection, I hope it is the fact that thousands of people are working behind the scenes to create a world filled with sustainability, equality, peace and unity, and that most of the action, negotiations, meetings and debates are happening at the United Nations here in New York.