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Empowering Youth Voices: Highlights from the First United Nations SGDs Virtual Debate

In a remarkable showcase of global collaboration and youthful enthusiasm, the first United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Virtual Debate themed “Youth Voices for a Sustainable Future,” unfolded from November 23 to November 30. Focusing on SDGs 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water), and 15 (Life on Land), the debate saw spirited participation from high schools around the world, echoing the spirit of the earlier United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and paving the way for continued progress.

Before the advent of the SDGs, the international community rallied around the United Nations MDGs, a set of eight goals established in the year 2000 with a deadline set for 2015. These goals encompassed a broad spectrum of issues, including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, and fostering global partnership for development.

The MDGs marked a significant global effort to address pressing challenges and set specific, measurable targets to improve the quality of life for people around the world. While the MDGs achieved notable successes, it was acknowledged that certain issues required further attention, and the need for a more comprehensive and inclusive framework became apparent.

Building upon the achievements and lessons learned from the MDGs, the United Nations introduced the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. The SDGs comprise of 17 interconnected goals aimed at addressing a wider range of global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.

The international event witnessed the active involvement of four prominent high schools: St. Patrick School and Manuel L. Quezon University High School in the Philippines; Blue Bells Model School in India; Kayan Private School in Afghanistan.

A total of 15 thought-provoking thesis statements, with five dedicated to each SDG, set the stage for the debate. Teams, representing participating schools engage in intellectual discourse, offering diverse perspectives on the critical issues of climate action, life below water, and life on land.

To ensure fairness and impartiality, the organizers adopted a randomized approach to determine opposing teams, assign thesis statements, and allocate teams to either the affirmative or negative side. This method aimed to promote balanced and unbiased exchange throughout the debate.

Amidst the rigorous debates and intellectual exchanges, the MLQU Senior High School Debate Society emerged as the shining stars of the event. The team not only demonstrated exceptional eloquence but also showcased outstanding skills in rebuttal and evidence presentation.

The MLQU Senior High School Debate Society, under the guidance of Ms. Micah Simon who was assisted by Mr. Angelo Jamandre Langgam from the Legal Management Program, clinched multiple awards. The Team’s notable achievements include the Most Eloquent Speaker Award, Best Rebuttal Award, and Best Use of Evidence Award.

The winning team comprises Dominic Ashley Aquirre, Viktoria Reggie Amadure, Glen Ivan Salazar, and Leanne Pauleen Tan. Their collective efforts and dedication to the debate’s themes resonated with the judges, earning them well deserved recognition.

The success of the first United Nations SDGs Virtual Debate not only underscores the importance of engaging youth in global discussions but also highlights the depth of understanding and passion young minds bring to issues like climate action, life below water, and life on land. Congratulations to all participating schools and, especially, to the MLQU Senior High School Debate Society for their outstanding accomplishment and commitment to a sustainable future. The impact of these debates will undoubtedly reverberate, inspiring future generations to actively contribute to the global dialogue on sustainable development.

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