Eight Billion Reasons for Change: Students at Rutgers Model United Nations Session Emulate C40

Editor's Note: On November 15th-18th 2012, over one-thousand students from across the United States converged upon New Brunswick, New Jersey for the annual Rutgers Model United Nations (RUMUN) conference. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group was part of their simulation.

The following summary post is from Aniket Kesari, Executive Director, Rutgers Model Congress:

Model UN is a simulation of the United Nations and other international organizations. High school students learn about international affairs, public policy, and politics. The theme of this year’s conference was the “8 Billion Reasons for Change.” Now that the global population has reached 7 billion people, students explored the possibilities and challenges that will come with the next 1 billion people. Cities were especially important to this discussion because they house most of the world’s population and are responsible for the vast majority of its energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Rutgers Discussion

Twenty of these students had a unique opportunity to address these immense challenges as they simulated the C40 Cities: Climate Leadership Group. Each student played the role of a C40 member city, and over the course of more than 23 hours of debate they drafted a policy statement that outlined specific solutions to the problems of global population growth, climate change, and demographic changes. The final paper totaled 22 pages, and they piloted dozens of new programs such as “Rent-A-Wheel,” which created a network of bicycle rental facilities.

The students’ work over the weekend was incredible, and demonstrated the importance of the C40 in addressing the serious public policy issues that threaten the environmental stability of the planet. Each student left with an understanding that cities are our best hope for creating a sustainable future. They all took their responsibility seriously and engaged difficult issues such as nuclear energy and industrialization in a mature and sophisticated manner. Model UN is a great educational tool, and RUMUN is proud to have showcased the C40 at this year’s conference. Ultimately the C40’s work is meant to secure the planet for future generations, and it was heartening to see future leaders approach their education with such vigor and excitement. I personally have been involved with Model UN for six years now, and seeing students rise to this challenge was certainly my proudest moment to date.

To read their final "policy paper" click here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We just learned that C40 was such a success at this year's conference the conference managers for 2013 have decided to feature it again at next year's conference.