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- [June 2019] A great day at the Bonn International School

On June 25, the UNCCD Capacity Building Marketplace (CBM) Team visited the high school students of the Bonn International School, Germany. The main purpose of this visit was to raise awareness about the importance of engaging the youth in the sustainable development process, and the roles they can play to help in achieving this goal.

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The multinational Team comprising Jorge Sanz (Spain), Raissa Tadia (Cameroon) ,Ines Belhous (France), Loretta Asare (Ghana) and Jairo Lozano (Colombia) engaged around 80 students between the ages of 15 and 17 on several issues including  how they can personally help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);how land degradation and desertification is increasing, and how young people can play a very positive part in helping to address these challenges; the importance of the World Day Combat Desertification; and the opportunities that  the Marketplace offers, such as scholarships, university programs, vacancies, and much more. There was also a fun-filled charade between the presentations to further reinforce the importance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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The students and professors asked many questions about the UN in general, the UNCDD and the CBM.  There was an interactive quiz where the students were asked to be in groups of 3 or 4 to answer the questions on land and the SDGs. The winning group will be rewarded with the opportunity of spending a day at the UN headquarters interacting with UN staff and observing the work of some of the UN Agencies based in Bonn.

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The students passionately engaged in the side activities. They understood the presentations, and this was heavily translated through their engagement in the side activities.

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These activities included an exhibition where materials from the UNCCD library were displayed together with the QR codes to reducing the use of paper and therefore achieving our goal on sustainability, T-shirts, the World Day to Combat Desertification to be observed on the 17th of June.

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There was also the 'Moringa Challenge’ which was done by both the students and their professors. They planted Moringa seeds as one way of trying to have a real impact on the reduction of their everyday footprint on the environment. Moringa is a tree used to combat land degradation because it is resistant to drought, improves soil fertility, grows fast, and helps with food security.

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Again, the students teamed up to design their own T-shirts to help in combat land degradation and desertification. This was warmly done in the different teams projecting their different understanding of the need to individually help in combatting this menace.

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For those that are interested in the full coverage of the event in Bonn International School, you can see the videos of the presentations, pictures, and interviews in the link below:

Link full video coverage (YOUTube)
Link full photos coverage (GPhotos)

This event would not have been possible without the great cooperation of the school’s management team. Therefore, the CBM Team expresses its heartfelt appreciation to the entire Bonn International School. A very special thank you goes out to Mr. Eif Phillips, Secondary School Principal, who facilitated the coordination of this experience. Special thanks are here expressed to all the students who showed interest in and passion for all that was done, and who remained totally engaged throughout the entire exercise. Additionally, the CBM Team is grateful to all who were involved in and supported the exercise from the first day of planning to the final execution.

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Following up, in Bonn, Germany – On the 1st November, the Capacity Building Marketplace (CBM) of the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) hosted three very special guests from Bonn International School: Auriane, Alice and Benedicte came to spend a day with the CBM Team at the UNCCD headquarters.

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When the CBM Team visited Bonn International School in June as part of the CBM 2019 outreach programme, it ran an interactive quiz with questions related to the presentations given. The group with the highest score was awarded a visit to Bonn UN Campus, the UNCCD and other agencies’ headquarters.

The visitors interacted with various United Nations (UN) staff members sharing their views on land degradation and other global environmental issues.

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The day started with the multicultural CBM Team, composed by Jorge Sanz Fernandez (Spain, UNCCD-CBM Consultant), Lilia Maximova (Russia, UNCCD-CBM Intern), Raissa Tadia (Cameroon, Former UNCCD-CBM Intern) and Loretta Adowaa Asare (Ghana, Former UNCCD-CBM Intern), welcoming the visitors at the entrance of the Bonn UN Campus and guiding them to the UNCCD-CBM office, where Jorge Sanz briefly introduced the visitors to the Campus, the role of the UNCCD, and more specifically the UNCCD-CBM.

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Then, the CBM Team shown the visitors its daily activities, such as the research and publication of opportunities related to Sustainable Land Management (SLM) on our website, our participation in events organised by our team and in collaboration with other UN agencies, our Social Media (SM) activities, and a brief introduction on how to use the UNCCD Online Library Catalogue and the Knowledge Hub (UNCCD-KH).

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To have a complete introduction to the UNCCD work, the students visited the Global Mechanism (UNCCD-GM). UNCCD-GM is the operational arm of the Convention which assists countries in the mobilization of financial resources to implement the Convention and address desertification, land degradation and drought. Mr. Hansol Park (Republic of Korea, Associate Programme Officer) elaborated on the projects that have been implemented to mobilize financial resources so far.

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Additionally, the CBM guests visited the Chief of the Science, Technology and Implementation Unit (STI) of the UNCCD Secretariat, Mr. Johns Muleso Kharika (Malawi), who warmly welcomed them and shown his interest and involvement with the young students.

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After a small lunch break, the visitors were honourably welcomed by Dr. Pradeep Monga (India, UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary), who was genuinely interested in knowing the background and future ambitions of the students, while giving them useful insights on how to approach their first professional steps, especially within the UN System.

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Thus, Dr. Monga concluded the introduction to the mandate and the role of the UNCCD in achieving land degradation neutrality, which indicated the second part of the event - interaction with other UN organisations.

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The first external organisation to be visited was the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation – International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (UNESCO-UNEVOC), where Mr. Wouter De Regt (The Netherlands, Associate Publications Officer) gave a great presentation on UNESCO-UNEVOC in general and their TVET Programme in particular.

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The second UN agency visited was another Rio Convention located in Bonn, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). There, Ms. Carrie Assheuer (Canada, Public Information and Media Assistant) welcomed the students and gave them a tour through their headquarters and their exhibition room. In that respect, the visitors could learn about the negotiation processes that have guided climate action and the work of the UNFCCC as well as get introduced to the climate change mitigation and the relation with the other two Rio Conventions (UNCCD and CBD).

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In the end of the tour of some of the UN agencies based in Bonn, our young guests were welcomed by Xavier Longan (Spain, Programme Specialist & Europe Focal Point) from UN SDG Action Campaign. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the shared platform for peace and prosperity for people, and the SDG Action Campaign aims at reaching the largest amount of population in order to raise awareness in the general public and mobilise people to help achieve the SDGs. As a surprise for the visitors, they had the pleasure to meet the Global Director, Marina Ponti (Italy) and a big part of the Team.

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Lastly, the visitors and the CBM Team went back to the CBM Office, where they were able to discuss the day and give feedback in order to keep improving these experiences and events in the future. Since “Work in Progress” is an essential component of the CBM Team philosophy, it always aims at constantly improving its activities. To add a final touch, the students were invited to play the Land + Soil Game, where they were supposed to guess the true cost and impact of production of beef, pork, chicken, eggs and potatoes. And finally, according to the CBM tradition, the visitors were given a UNCCD gift package to remind them of this day.

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The UNCCD-CBM Team believes that this sort of events and visits are key to raise awareness, engage the youth in supporting the UNCCD and address the global environmental challenges we are currently facing. The UNCCD-CBM Team is led by the UNCCD Innovation, Action Programme Alignment and Capacity Building Officer, Dr. Richard A. Byron-Cox (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), who could not be present due to duties overseas, but sent his warm regards to the visitors.

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The full UNCCD-CBM Team wants to express its deep gratitude to all the collaborators that made this visit a full success.

For those interested in seeing the full picture gallery of this visit, please use this link:

All pictures of ‘A Day With the CBM’ and the students of Bonn International School!

These outreached events are conceptualized, managed, and are generally coordinated by Dr. Richard A. Byron-Cox, UNCCD Capacity Building Officer.