144 students took part in a global 6th form model UN online conference on Friday 28 January 2022 to debate climate change and raise their voice about the resolutions made by governments in Glasgow at COP26. Covering various time zones, almost half the students were from China, with others joining from the UK, Australia and Ireland. The conference was organised by Engage with China, an educational charity that aims to build China literacy in UK schools.
“The standard of debate was really high,” said Theo Innes, aged 15 from The Grange school, Cheshire who acted as President of the conference.
I was particularly blown away by delegate China 4 (himself Chinese) who so eloquently and persuasively spoke about how the fossil fuel resolution to phase out coal would impoverish six million uneducated people in mainland China. It really highlighted the complexities and challenges for governments to reduce carbon emissions.”
A representative from each school was initially asked to talk about climate change and how it affects their home country. A student from King’s School Worcester, spoke about the frequent flooding in the city and how that affects livelihoods and communities locally. A student from Marlborough College spoke of the need in the UK to increase statutes, sanctions and subsidies and to follow through on policies as a matter of urgency.
Guest speakers included Neil Hirst, formerly from the International Energy Agency and representatives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Chinese Embassy in the UK. Students then spent two hours debating resolutions in three different breakout rooms from the perspective of their allocated country. Common to Model United Nations conferences, this encourages young people to debate from another perspective and builds global awareness. Topics for discussion and negotiation included phasing out fossil fuels, finance for vulnerable communities and carbon tax.
“Students at this MUN embraced the urgency of climate change and spoke with real passion and persuasion,” said H-J Colston-Inge, Director of Engage with China. “What was really encouraging to observe, was the empathy, respect, and connection between the delegates. As our charity aims to build China literacy in schools, one of the outcomes was that western students were able to witness the high calibre of their peers from China. We were encouraged that one native English speaker is learning mandarin for GCSE and wished the Chinese students a happy new year in a pre-recorded speech. A greater global awareness is critical to enable cooperation between nations and to ensure that steps can be taken quickly to save the planet.”
Richard Higgins, Conference Director from the Grange School, said that “it was an amazing event,” and that his “students were buzzing at the end of it.” Changchun Foreign Language School, which fielded a Chairperson, Chen Silin, has already committed to participating in this Engage with China MUN in 2023.
Another student from Shenzhen Foreign Language School expressed her delight at the learnings of the conference.
It provided us with a wonderful platform. It showed us that the more engaged we are individually and the more engaged we are as nations, the better the future will be.
Based on the overwhelming success of the Conference, this will become an annual event. Please contact Engage with China to register early interest to participate in the 2023 conference.