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High school student represents the Earth Charter at a Model UN Conference

Guest post by Benjamin Haertel

My name is Benjamin Haertel. I’m 17 years old and attend the Riverside School in Prague. I’ve always been interested in the Model United Nations (MUN). For my second year in the club at school I was assigned to represent the Earth Charter Initiative for the Webster MUN in Vienna. I originally was going to be the delegate of Iran, but my supervisor, Mr. Hart, asked me if I would be willing to represent the Earth Charter instead. Before being asked to represent the Earth Charter at the Webster MUN (WebMUN), I didn’t know anything about it. Through my research before the conference, however, I was able to fully appreciate the amount of thought and effort put into the existence and ideology of the document and the organization.

Representing the Earth Charter at the WebMUN offered me a wonderful learning opportunity because the principles of the Earth Charter Initiative are fully relevant to the topic of the WebMUN: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and combatting climate change. From the start of the conference, I strived to push for the Earth Charter’s Principles to be taken into full consideration by the delegates of other countries, especially on issues regarding renewable energy, energy efficiency, and humane standards of living.

It is my belief that at first the other delegates saw the Earth Charter as another environmental initiative organization with an obsession for protecting panda bears, so to speak. Throughout the rest of the conference, after initial encouraging speeches pushing for alternate energy solutions, I tried to best represent the Earth Charter as not only providing solutions to global energy issues but also to social issues such as poverty. I consistently stressed the multiple issues tied in to the problem of the energy crisis and the importance of goals such as the MDGs.

While I attempted to give others insight into the work of the Earth Charter Initiative, I also gained some insight on the Earth Charter myself, and was able to use its principles to improve my own personal global perspective. Representing the Earth Charter helped me to see the connections between the global issues that our world faces today, and why a collective response is needed to solve them.

Overall, I am very grateful for the chance to represent the Earth Charter. It gave me a unique opportunity to not only learn more about the Earth Charter and its principles but also to use those principles to improve and mature my own views.

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Mr. Haertel heard about the opportunity through the UNESCO Club Vienna and also had the opportunity to consult with an Earth Charter International staff member during his research into representing the Earth Charter. Earth Charter International is grateful to UNESCO Club Vienna for making this learning opportunity for Mr. Haertel possible, and through his diligence in representing the Earth Charter, many other young people learned about it at the Webster Model United Nations.

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We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future.
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