This recap article and the accompanying photos were provided by Holger Baer, the Secretary-General of NWMUN – Portland 2015.
Northwest Model United Nations – Portland 2015 was held over the weekend of February 13-15 in Portland, Oregon. Northwest Model United Nations, which has previously held 8 conferences in Seattle and co-sponsored National Model United Nations – Northwest with NMUN in February 2014, welcomed 14 universities and over 160 students to its first independent conference in Portland. Delegations attended NWMUN – Portland from across the Pacific Northwest, as well as from California and Western Canada.
The conference simulated the work of the General Assembly, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Security Council. As a cross-cutting theme, the topics focused on different aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals, ranging from environmental governance to food security, and from HIV/AIDS and young people to the expansion of sustainable sources of energy. Conference topics were focused on various aspects of the goals and their proposed targets which will form the core of the post-2015 development agenda expected to replace the Millennium Development Goals as the overarching plan for the work of the UN system.
The conference was held at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront and inspired delegates with views from committee rooms of the city and waterfront, highlighted by the picturesque Mount Hood in the background. There was a distinct Portland atmosphere to the conference as well, with a sunny Saturday lunch including local food carts just outside the hotel. On Saturday afternoon, the Opportunity Fair brought 11 graduate schools, NGOs, and academic programs to the venue to speak to delegates, including Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International.
Beyond the conference program, NWMUN – Portland featured two speakers, who complemented the conference’s bird’s-eye view on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda with firsthand perspectives of what international cooperation means on the ground and its very practical challenges. Opening Speaker Sevil Omer spoke about her work for World Vision International’s Syria crisis regional response in Amman, Jordan, and connected the students attending with young people in the region with powerful images and stories. At Closing Ceremonies, Keynote Speaker Tim DuRoche of the World Affairs Council of Oregon challenged students to be aware how much perspective is shaped by environment and culture and how meeting and working with people from different backgrounds is vital to understanding different views about concepts of international governance.
Closing Ceremonies concluded with the presentation of delegation awards, with Distinguished Delegation awards earned by Kwantlen Polytechnic University and by California State University – Long Beach. NWMUN-Portland 2015’s Outstanding Delegation was the University of Calgary.
All of us at NWMUN-Portland and its parent nonprofit, the Northwest Association for Global Affairs, are grateful to all attendees for believing in a new conference, for traveling from afar, and for making the conference a success! More information on the conference is at portland.nwmun.org – you can also find information on future plans in Portland. And we are also hard at work preparing for NWMUN – Seattle, our flagship conference held each November. NWMUN – Seattle 2015 will be held November 20-22. You can find more information at seattle.nwmun.org. We look forward to seeing delegates and delegations old and new at future NWMUN conferences!