Can young people help halve extreme poverty rates or halt the spread of HIV/AIDS? The U.N. thinks so.
Model U.N. members from UF and Santa Fe College discussed the critical role youth has in global improvement at a conference Thursday at the Gainesville Women’s Club. The discussion also included reducing child mortality and sustaining the environment.
City Commissioner Randy Wells kicked off the conference by introducing the student panelists, who addressed Millenium Development Goals, the eight-goal, 15-year plan the U.N. first announced.
These goals encourage positive change, said Brandon Gilliland, a dual-enrolled anthropology junior at UF and Santa Fe.
“Great strides have been made (toward achieving the development goals),” the 31-year-old said, but “there still is room for improvement.”
The six goals conference attendees deemed most important were education, access to sanitation and clean water, health care, affordable food, climate change and responsive, honest government.
Brian Mitchell, a 73-year-old former U.N. staff member who was at the conference, said the goals have been largely successful.
“The Millennium Goals have been achieved in part or in full since they were set in the year 2000,” said Mitchell, who’s worked with several U.N. agencies and helped refugees in countries like Beirut. “I think you only have to look at the result of those goals to say the U.N. is achieving a heck of a lot.”
Jordan Ross, an officer with UF’s Model U.N. club, said seeing young people passionate about world issues gives the community peace of mind.
“It’s really important to know that our generation is going to be relatively knowledgeable about these issues, especially since we’re going to be the ones dealing with them,” the 19-year-old UF biochemistry sophomore said.
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 10/24/2014]