Seniors Rina Kurihara and Theresa Alves recently had the opportunity to serve as delegates at the United Nations’ 2023 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Weekend at UN headquarters in New York City.
As co-founders of Taft’s Model United Nations (MUN) Club, Rina Kurihara ’24 and Theresa Alves ’24 have spent the past few years immersed in all things Model UN: they have given fellow Taft students hands-on opportunities to experience MUN through in-house Taft MUN conferences; hosted a multi-school conference, where they welcomed Hotchkiss and Loomis to the process; and cohosted the first New England-Tokyo Model United Nations conference with the Senzoku Gakuen Model United Nations Club. They have also competed in highly regarded international MUN events, including the annual Yale United Nations Conference, where four Taft students were among the 5% of the 1,000 attendees to earn accolades for their conference work last year, Theresa among them.
This year, Rina and Theresa had the opportunity to pursue their passion on an even bigger stage: They attended the United Nations’ 2023 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Weekend at UN headquarters in New York City.
“Rina works with an NGO, LearningPlanet Alliance (LPA), a platform for educational changemakers to come together, share experiences, and work towards common objectives,” Theresa explains. “LPA nominated a few members to attend the UN SDG Action Weekend as delegates, including Rina.”
Rina introduced Theresa to the LPA committee, which led to an opportunity for Theresa to represent Taft at the Action Weekend event.
In 2015, all UN Member States adopted the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Described as “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future,” the Agenda is built on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include things like ending hunger and poverty, improving education, reducing inequalities, and ensuring economic growth through productive employment. In 2019, the UN held its first SDG Summit; the second was held September 18 and 19 of this year. Billed as "an opportunity for stakeholders from all sectors to convene inside the United Nations Headquarters and mobilize towards an ambitious SDG Summit and UN General Assembly High-Level Week,” the two-day Action Weekend preceded the 2023 SDG Summit.
Both days included multiple work sessions around the sustainable development goals; day one was a “mobilization” day, while day two was an “acceleration” day for high-impact initiatives. Rina attended work sessions on youth engagement, transforming education, economic development, and private sector financing, to name a few. Among the sessions Theresa attended were those focused on local and regional governments, building public sector capabilities, and moving toward a rights-centered, gender-transformative economy.
“Beyond the direct learning from the sessions, we both networked with people from all sectors,” says Rina, “including delegates from across the globe, delegates from other NGOs, ministers, and actual UN delegates.”
Taft MUN Club is open to all Taft students. The club plans to host another conference this year, and to continue traveling to international events, including both the Yale and Harvard Model UN Conferences.