Final Project Reflection
For my final project, I chose to discuss food security and climate change. I already had a moderate amount of background knowledge on climate change, and when I looked into the development goals, I knew it was the one I wanted to focus on. However, I also wanted to use this opportunity to learn about something that was very new to me. I had read articles about how climate change would affect food production, so I decided I wanted to investigate this relationship further.
What I learned at the UN reinforced my assumption that climate change would have huge impacts for food security. With so many people already being severely food insecure in developing nations, climate change brings an added layer of complications and uncertainty. The SDG targets for zero hunger specifically mentions the importance of climate change for the future of food security efforts. This idea was echoed in various meetings throughout the conference and it seemed universally understood that food security projects should consider climate change. However, fewer people talked about how this specifically should be done. How do we change our current efforts to be more adaptive to a changing climate?
Several people talked about biodiversity, which I found extremely interesting. We have been learning about the importance of respecting and prioritizing the voice of local populations and working towards biodiversity seems in line with this sentiment. Through the creation of projects that emphasize biodiversity populations could have more diverse sources of nutrition, experiment with producing crops that are resistant to extreme weather, and develop food sovereignty by having control over their diet. I was encouraged by the few times that biodiversity was mentioned; however like with anything else in the UN, implementation will be a major challenge for future food security projects. We know the UN can gather its resources to provide crucial food handouts to severely food insecure populations, but can it coordinate efforts to achieve a more complex goal like food sovereignty through emphasizing biodiversity?
Overall Experience Reflection
I think overall this experience confirmed a lot of the previous assumptions I had about the UN. After studying large bureaucratic international bodies previously, I am familiar with the slow pace of decision making and implementation process. However, what I always find surprising is that the UN has the ability to produce results even considering the day-to-day slow pace dialogue. For example the UN produced the MDGs and many countries seem to have measurable progress towards or even succeeded in achieving those goals. Thus, the SDGs also have the potential to be hugely beneficial, and I know the HLPF we had the opportunity to attend will eventually prove to have been crucial in the path towards achieving the SDGs.
I think perhaps a lot of the progress made towards the goals of the UN can be attributed to the NGOs involved with UN and private sector partnerships. I knew that these organizations played an active role in the UN, but I didn’t realize how proactive they are and how crucial they can be for implementing the ideas discussed. I think most people think of the UN as being simply a coalition of governments. However, this conference demonstrated that a lot of the idea generation and coordination efforts of the UN don’t come out of the governments themselves.
The last thing I found surprising about the UN is how much it reminded me of national governmental bureaucracies. When I talked to people involved with the UN many of them seemed to be embittered and could identify a whole list of issues they felt with the workings of the UN or the results of the discussions. I had imagined the UN to be full of people that thoroughly believed in the actions of the UN and felt confident in its power to cause global change. Instead people seem skeptical and often uncertain if the right actions were being made or if any action would be taken at all. Basically, people were salty due to their experience working in the UN.