MODEL UN HIGHLIGHTS “HUMANITY’S FOOLISHNESS” AS IT SEEKS TO FIND SOLUTIONS

On Friday 20 January just before Chinese New Year 2023, 200 pupils from 20 schools located across multiple time zones participated in an online Model United Nations conference to debate climate change. The Good Cop Bad Cop2 conference is a student-led event organised by Engage with China, an educational charity that builds China literacy in UK schools. This was its second annual MUN hosted by The Grange School, Cheshire and sponsored by ESG Ai Tech (Shanghai) Ltd 宜斯吉智能科技(上海)有限公司.

Russian delegate studying at St Columba’s, Dublin, who comes from Hong Kong, put the urgency of the conference topic very eloquently;

“it is in humanity’s nature to be foolish..we have allowed it to fester and this has led to the exploitation of our planet… However, a Chinese proverb says 不见棺材不落泪 or ‘only shed tears when you see the coffin’, in other words, it is incumbent on all of us to work cross-culturally, to take responsibility and to keep going to find solutions and prevent disaster.”

Russian delegate

The four-hour long conference included 2.5 hours to debate resolutions agreed by global leaders at COP26 in Sharm El-Sheik.

“During the Lunar New Year, people in the west focus on Chinese culture for a few days but, more generally speaking, young people understand very little about its culture and history. Climate change does not recognise borders and initiatives like Good Cop Bad Cop provides a platform to build cross-cultural skills to enable future collaboration with other countries, including China,”

said H-J Colston-Inge, Director of Engage with China

“By involving Chinese and other international students, we hope to spark the imagination that might impact on pupils’ future subject choices and career paths,” she added. Students heard plenty of articulate voices as the debates worked clause by clause through resolutions. “Each country should contribute what they can,” said a student representing Japan whilst another representing Kenya said, “the countries causing the most damage should pay more.”

As well as a high level of debate, aspiration was built further with the involvement of VIP guest speakers. UK Ambassador to China, Dame Caroline Wilson, who is a mandarin speaker, said,

“Thank you to Engage with China for inviting me to this Good Cop Bad Cop conference. Global cooperation is crucial to tackling climate change. In 2019 the UK became the first major economy to pass legislation to end its contribution to global warming & to achieve net zero greenhouse gases by 2050. COP26 commitments went further…partnerships in China include on Green finance, climate risk & renewable energy.” 兔年快乐!

Dame Caroline Wilson, UK Ambassador to China

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, was also delighted to hear that two Worcester schools were taking part. Appearing at the conference he said,

As former Minister of Education I was pleased to launch a sustainability and climate change strategy for the department of Education…there is no doubt that we need to see global action and understand the global dynamics and engage constructively on this huge 21st century challenge.”

Good Cop2 montage photos
Robin Walker, MP for Worcester

There was plenty to interest the students as they also heard from other speakers. BBC reporter and founder of environmental think-tank, Isobel Hilton, exhorted the students to “find common understanding…tell your stories..and tell what you know about climate change to family, friends and communities.” Peggy Liu, China’s ‘Green Goddess,’ spoke about “the Holy grail to get us to a (greener) future which includes energy production nuclear fusion and transmission lines that don’t lose energy as they transmit from Sahara desert to Europe.”

Asked why he wanted to participate in the conference, student Ollie R from KSW said, “I was driven to create an environment of eloquent discussion and expression during the conference in order to further my generation’s drive to solve the climate change crisis.” His enthusiasm and interest paid off. Rosie Shearburn, who heads up the MUN at the school said, “My delegation REALLY enjoyed it. What I saw was tremendous.  They were completely engrossed in the debate, and the chairing was reported to be the best.  In fact, the girls are forming a fan club!”

The Grange School in Cheshire acted as the Host School. Asked at the end of the conference about the experience, Will Smith, Conference President and from The Grange, said,

“it was a really wonderful experience to chair such a great event – especially to be its President. The standard of debate was very high and some of the delegations really, really excelled themselves, including the schools representing Brazil, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia.. We passed three clauses and three amendents.”

William Smith, Y13 student, Good Cop Bad Cop2 MUN conference President

Feedback from other schools was similarly positive. Mrs Gray, Head of Geography at St Wilfrid’s RC College said, “What an amazing student-led conference. Empowering young people to become involved in global politics and issues that will impact them was fantastic… Our Year 13 students have said they will not forget this experience and our current Year 12 students said they can’t wait to take part again next year.” 

Two schools took part from China, dialling into the conference just one day before Chinese New Year’s Eve. Piao Yiwen from Changchun Foreign Language School and who chaired Resolution 3 on Compensation for loss and damage, said, “it was such an honour to debate with such wonderful and talented students. This was such an academic meeting and enhanced our learning. Thank you!”

Students from six schools involved in the Mandarin Excellence Programme were involved. This is a UK government funded programme to boost mandarin language learning and fluency. This conference added value by widening their China-related learning and some of the mandarin learners gave the Chinese students a Happy New Year message in mandarin.

Christopher Whitehead Language College in Worcester will share their interest in Chinese culture by being involved in the Chinese New Year celebrations this Sunday, 29 January in the city. Details on our resources page.

Published by H-J Colston

H-J is Joint CEO of Chopsticks Club and a regular speaker on China. Through training and events, she has been building cultural literacy about China from the boardroom to the classroom since 1993. She designed and delivered a “Doing Business in China” course at Pearson Business School. She was invited to meet President Xi Jinping during his state visit to the UK in 2015 in recognition of her work in building China-UK relations. She has a degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Durham. Find out more at www.chopsticksclub.com and www.engagewithchina.org

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