QLC 2019- a student’s perspective

#QLC19

By Maryam Al Sada and Taraf Jaro

 

The weekend of QLC has been continuously remembered as one filled with inspiration, motivation, and passion for creating change. Students and teachers alike, come in knowing that they will leave with new-found purpose, passion, and determination that will hopefully help them play a significant part in bettering both the local and global society. This year’s conference has delivered on this, and done so with a strong focus on how the youth themselves – ourselves – can contribute to creating a lasting change while still being true to ourselves. 

 

The Impact of joining QLC goes further than just attending workshops, and beyond the few days of the event. Motivated students will be able to link simple projects such as beach cleanups to larger goals in their community, or the world, such as the sustainable development goals of the United Nations (SDGs). This will allow youth-led or run initiatives to better be able to show the impact they are making on either a local or global scale. This will motivate the youth to focus on the impact any project has on achieving these larger, more worthwhile, goals and encourage further participation now and in the future. By focusing on specific goals, initiatives will be tailored to target the areas that require the most concentration. After tackling one area, efforts can be expanded by either working with other initiatives targeting the same goals, or branching out to totally different goals, depending on what issues require our immediate attention. The combined efforts of multiple youth-initiated and run projects will subtly propel the change to the better improving many lives now and in the future. For example, youth engagement can be achieved through a myriad of methods such as iGEM, which is a grassroots competition aiming to have high school and college students create their own synthetic bio initiative while linking it to the SDGs. This shows how a direct, evident, and efficient impact can be created with youth involvement. 

 

Much of the reason we, as the youth, have shied away from taking action can be attributed to feeling as though it won’t make a difference. It is an understandable reason, as often times the voices of younger generations are silenced by people in power, however, the time has come to have our voices heard, both loudly and clearly. We should always keep in mind the consequences of inaction. Not doing is always easier than doing something, however, the consequences of inaction are usually undesirable and sometimes harmful. When lives and the future of our planet are at risk we cannot afford inaction. Don’t consider why you shouldn’t take action, rather focus on what is the benefits and rewards of your actions. Today’s youth are continuing to raise awareness and lobby for change. It is our turn to become part of today’s youth power.

 

In light of the theme of the third day of QLC, ‘Call to Action’, we asked various participants to answer the following questions: ‘What was your favorite session and why?’, and ‘what call to action are you going to take on as a result of what you’ve learned?’. The result was a variety of responses that make me confident that the leaders of tomorrow will be a positive asset to society.

 

Saumya Tibrewal

DPS MIS

 

“I attended the workshop by Kellen Brewer, ‘Make an impact and take action’. He focused on the Thirst Project which is about the water crisis, and as he was 19 at the time it showed me that it doesn’t matter what your age is; you take action anyhow. It gave me an incentive towards focusing on women’s abuse because I think it’s an underrecognized issue, so, from his explanations on how young women can take action, I felt like I can make a difference in the world.”

 

Hala Haidar

American School of Doha 

 

“My favorite session so far has been ‘Questioning the categories we create’ because it helped me think outside the box. When it comes to MUN as delegates I think we focus too much on developing vs. developed [nations], and that’s how we define countries, and we realized that there is no one set definition of developing and developed. It’s just the perceptions we have of these nations that affect the way MUN works because often times a country such as the U.S. will be sided with more since they’re considered more powerful, however, we realized that every country has their own strengths that make them developed in certain aspects.”

 

“After this conference, I’m inspired to create more sustainable change within my school. I’m part of the EFFECT club that aims to implement sustainable changes within ASD. We already do a lot of work with sustainability

 

As we wrap up the 8th annual Qatar Leadership Conference, let’s make an effort to implement what we’ve gained within the walls of this conference to our local communities, and eventually on a global scale. Remembering always, as the author Steve Goodier said, “An authentic and genuine life grows like a sturdy tree. And like a tree, it grows slowly. Every time you make a different and better decision, it grows a little. Every time you choose to do the right thing, even when nobody would find out otherwise, it grows a little.” Every one of us can, and should, make a difference; let that difference always be for the better.

 

The Water Crisis

By Maryam Al Sada, Head of PR, THIMUN Qatar


We are always taught to appreciate what we have, or we may risk losing it. This has never been truer than our need to be appreciative of having easy access to clean water, which most of us take for granted. If you are lucky enough to not be one of the 2.2 billion who do not have access to safe drinking water, be aware this may not continue to be true in the future. We never realize the severity of the depletion of resources until it directly affects us. Within the Middle East,  people are becoming more aware of an impending crisis we may face if we continue to ignore climate change and specifically water scarcity. Although it is common to feel as though these issues don’t affect us now, the sooner action is taken to raise awareness and resolve them the less disastrous the future consequences will be. 

THE IMPENDING WATER CRISIS

Water composes over 70% of the Earth’s surface, yet its availability is rapidly depleting. According to the Water Project, The shortage of fresh groundwater sources in Jordan has prompted a 30% increase in water costs, thus lowering its accessibility. As the people of Yemen continue to face high rates of malnutrition, more people fall victim to the nation’s water scarcity. As shown by data collected by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, 13 countries within the Middle East have been recognized by the UN as falling under the benchmark for “absolute water scarcity” as of 2014. Considering the limited precipitation rates of the dry desert climate, Arab countries facing absolute water scarcity are consuming more water than they can sustain, and the World Bank estimates that by 2040 over half of the MENA region will be under extremely high water stress. So how did we get to this point?

UNSUSTAINABLE WATER CONSUMPTION AND DESALINATION

Groundwater sources, such as rivers and underground layers of rock saturated with water, require replenishment at a rate higher or at least equal to the rate of our use of them. In our dry climates this has been insufficient, therefore requiring us to develop new sources for clean water. Desalination, the process of removing salt from seawater for daily use, has grown to be the most practiced technique of water consumption in response to water shortages across the world and has been practiced in the Middle East for over 50 years, this however has its drawbacks. It increases the carbon footprint of the region due to the thermal method of extraction, in addition to polluting the groundwater sources and soil. Although desalination appears to be a temporary solution to sourcing water, its consequences will be detrimental to the region in the long term.

As stated by WeForumWater Scarcity has been a result and a contributor to climate change, especially in the Middle East. Therefore it is our responsibility to protect the environment and think of how we can reduce the impact of unsustainable water consumption? Better yet, how can we completely stop it?

YOUTH IN ACTION

As the future leaders and policymakers of our nations, we have a responsibility to ensure that we take as much action as possible to make a change.  Although the processes that lead to unsustainable water consumption are industry and government-based, raising awareness on their severity can prompt those with more authority in a higher position of power to introduce the changes that will yield more sustainable consumption options. Multiple awareness initiatives can be taken in schools; for example, challenge teachers, students, and faculty to engage in trying to survive one day on a set amount of liters of water. Placing others around you in positions where they need to be aware of their water use, even if just for 24 hours, will encourage them to see the daily reality for people residing in nations facing absolute water scarcity and come to the realization that it is a prominent issue that needs resolving. With the rising prominence of youth engaging in marches worldwide, another initiative is to organize a sponsored march– however, there’s a twist: those participating must carry a jug of water on their heads as they walk, which is the length many women and children must take daily in order to have access to water, regardless of its sanitation.

 While advocacy efforts such as these are important in ensuring the spread of awareness on this prominent yet sparsely discussed issue, you can take part in making an active impact within your school. Schools across Qatar have the opportunity to receive ‘Green Flag Status’ in an initiative known as the Eco-Schools initiative if they exhibit and maintain a certain standard of sustainability. Among the requirements that must be met is one about water wastage and usage, which YOU can help your school achieve. If the majority of schools in Doha work to achieve this it can create a substantial change in which their efforts will ripple across the nation and soon convey to industrial organizations and those in power the importance of reducing our unsustainable water usage.

There was a time when one could only dream about the youth having a voice in governmental, political, and economic matters in regards to crucial issues such as the climate situation. However over the past month the world has watched as the odds have been defied, and the voices of the youth have come together in solidarity for the betterment of our world. So no matter how seemingly insignificant you believe taking action in advocacy or change-making is, realize that not only do we, the youth, have a voice, but it is one that will no longer be silenced.