Global Classrooms: London Conference Tackles the Human Impact of Climate Change

by KFC on December 19, 2011

This is a guest post from Nora Radtke, a staffer at GC London. Nora previously served on the Secretariats of conferences organized by UNA-USA and the University of Chicago and was featured in our How Model UN Can Help You Get Into College book. 

Opening Ceremonies of GC London took place at the main hall of the IMO

The Global Classrooms: London two-day Model UN Conference kicked off on December 9 at the International Maritime Organization Headquarters in West London, just across the Thames from Parliament. The Conference is hosted by The Mulberry Centre for Global Learning at the Mulberry School for Girls, in partnership with the Global Classrooms program of the United Nations Association of the United States of America. Conference staff members were primarily students from the Mulberry School for Girls, as well as a handful of volunteers from other local secondary schools.

Delegates in the Security Council discuss the Arctic

This year, the conference theme was “The Human Impact of Climate Change,” and nine of the ten committees were simulations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Conference, a conference that was taking place simultaneously in real life in Durban, South Africa. Delegates tackled a variety of climate change topics in regional-based committees, and a simulation of the United Nations Security Council discussed a security situation in the Arctic that invoked the Law of the Sea Treaty. Daily updates from the Press Corps team clued delegates in on what was happening real-time at the Conference in Durban, and committee updates were provided to delegates at the beginning of each session.

Delegates in the IPCCC Africa committee participate in a moderated caucus

Delegates were also lucky to have exciting speeches from a variety of distinguished guests. Amy Ruggiero, from UNA-USA, discussed how Human Rights Day on December 10 related directly to questions of climate change. She encouraged delegates to think beyond just the primary impacts of Global Warming, to how it may affect people’s lives. Edmund Hughes, Technical Officer at the International Maritime Organization, spoke about how the organization addresses climate change. While the organization’s primary mandate is to assist in regulating international shipping, Mr. Hughes noted that “shipping” accounts for a vast amount of carbon emissions. If placed in the rankings of the highest emitting states, “shipping” would fall to number 6. This staggering fact influenced many of the delegates immensely as they began discussing different ways to cut emissions within their committees. Finally Philip Mulligan, UNA-UK Executive Director, brought the climate change topic closer to home, discussing how we as individuals could personally help in protecting the world we live in.

As an American Graduate student studying in London, I have already had the opportunity to experience many different Model UN Conferences as both a High School delegate and an Undergraduate conference staffer. I was excited to take part as the Press Corps Coordinator at the GC: London Conference because I wanted to see how Model UN varied across the Atlantic. What I found was pretty simple, no matter where in the world you are from, Model UN is pretty much the same. In fact, Global Classrooms: London saw delegates come from all over the world, including Japan, Bahrain and Cyprus, yet committee proceedings went off just as you would expect in any American conference.

The Global Classrooms program is unique in that it encourages students to discover for themselves what being a “Global Citizen” is, via classrooms simulations and Model United Nations conferences. An exciting part of any Model UN conference is seeing delegates from different schools coming together to discuss issues of international importance. It is even more exciting when these students come from different parts of the world, breaking language barriers and cultural differences, and successfully writing resolutions that could have an impact on how the world works. Global Classrooms: London was a successful foray into this discovery of global citizenship, and both staff and delegates did a phenomenal job exploring the impacts of climate change.

The Global Classrooms: London December Conference is a two-day Conference held annually at the International Maritime Organization Headquarters. The Conference is sponsored by the UNA-USA Global Classrooms program, and organized by the Mulberry School for Girls. It is one of the largest Model UN Conferences for secondary school students in the United Kingdom, with annual attendance of more than 500 delegates. Global Classrooms and the Mulberry School host a second conference every year in July at Mulberry, with more than 300 attendees for all over the world. For more information on the program, visit:

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