Young people across Europe engage with work of the UN

Over the past four weeks, over 500 students in various schools in Belgium and across Europe were visited by officials from UN entities, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UN associations. These visits were part of the annual #Back2School campaign to mark United Nations Day (24 October), organised by the UN Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) and the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The campaign started with a presentation by Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib. It included further presentations by the UN Human Rights office in Brussels, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNRIC.

UN and foreign ministry personnel travelled to schools in Belgium and the wider European region to inform students about the work of the UN, the importance of global cooperation, peacekeeping, humanitarian action, human rights, tackling mis- and disinformation, the protection of refugees, climate action, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The presentations allowed students to get to know the UN in an interactive way and to engage in discussions about topics of interest, including the current crisis in the Middle East.

Broad participation

Participants involved in the campaign included Ms Elena Kountouri Tapiero, Acting Regional Representative of OHCHR, and Sophie Bernard, a volunteer from the French speaking UN association APNU Jeunes who went to the Institut Saint-Boniface, Brussels; and Fleur Rondelez, ILO Press and Communication Officer who visited the GO! Atheneum Etterbeek, Brussels.

UNRIC itself sent out its staff to Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium. In Greece, two different high schools received a visit, and in Portugal, two Lisbon universities took part in the campaign. In France, young people at the lycée international Massillon de Clermont Ferrand joined the campaign and in Belgium, both Dutch and French-speaking schools received a visit from UN staff.

Future generations play a key role

These school visits form part of a returning annual campaign since 2019 (in its current form), underscoring that schools and youth play a key role in shaping the future and achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The students, from teenagers to youngsters in their early twenties, are the central figures behind the campaign, constituting the future generation of young professionals, young leaders and activists.

Both the UN and the ministry plan to continue working closely with them, through similar campaigns or other projects.

 

More information

  • See our photo album or watch the video.
  • Read the story from 2022
  • Schools that joined this year’s campaign were 11th High School of Ilion (Athens) and the 5th High School of Arta in Greece, the European University of Lisbon and the Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa in Portugal, the lycée international Massillon de Clermont Ferrand, France and the Institut Saint-Boniface, the GO! Atheneum Etterbeek, the Go! Atheneum Unesco Koekelberg and the Institut de la Providence in Anderlecht, Belgium.

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