2017/10/28 Dresden, Germany
On 24 October Dresden and the world celebrated UN Day in commemoration of the founding of the United Nations (UN) on this day in 1945. An international day of observance, it is marked every year with various events all over the world celebrating the goals and achievements of the international organisation.
This year, Dresden celebrates its fifth anniversary as a UN host city since the inception of UNU-FLORES in the Saxon capital in 2012. To mark the occasion, UNU-FLORES opened its doors to the public offering local citizens a peak into how a UN entity can look like and function. In total, approximately 100 visitors took part in the Open House, witnessing first-hand how “the UN” is concretely making a valuable contribution every day here in Saxony.
Jointly organised by UNU-FLORES, together with the City of Dresden, the German United Nations Society – for Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia e.V. (DGVN), Technische Universität Dresden, UNICEF Working Group Dresden, Local Agenda 21 for Dresden e.V., Lions Club Dresden Agenda 21, and the World Trade Center, the celebrations kicked off with an international group photo and cake-cutting graced by State Minister Dr Fritz Jaeckel and UNU-FLORES Officer-in-Charge, Kai Schwärzel. Over 70 people from 38 different nationalities answered the call to get as many citizens from UN Member States in one spot at one time.
As a UN host city, Dresden is the right place to discuss many complex international issues – such as migration, sustainable development, and climate change. At UN Day, UNU-FLORES took the chance to raise awareness of the local population about some of these relevant and important issues.
As part of the Open House, visitors had the opportunity to learn about the use of environmental resources and, in particular, managing them as sustainably as possible through the Nexus Approach. Entering the Atrium of the World Trade Center, where celebrations kicked off, visitors were treated to the Nexus Approach Exhibition, a bilingual exhibition in English and German on the Nexus Approach and the work of UNU-FLORES.
At the Science Café, UNU-FLORES experts and PhD researchers presented their current projects and answered queries from the public. Discussing topics such as climate change, water quality, soil hydrology, and constructed wetlands, visitors were very engaged and frequently expressed interest in contributing to this work. Staff members manning the PhD Programme and Internship tables readily took on questions about applications.
A big part of the Open House was also dedicated to informing the public about the UN. The Open House provided insight into the work of the United Nations University as part of the greater United Nations System. Guests also learnt about the UN in Germany through an exhibition by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Giving guests a first-hand experience of negotiation processes at the table, elbMUN organised a model UN simulation. In a peace slam session, Mic4Peace provided a platform for international researchers to express what peace meant to them from various perspectives – be it personal and/or scientific.
In the evening, Ms Angela Siegmund, Senior External Relations Officer, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spoke on the topic of “Global Responsibility Sharing in Response to Refugee Situations”. The UN Spotlight Talk held at the Dresden City Hall brings into focus one of the year’s key topics at the UN, and its relevance in the daily lives of the local community. It also included the award ceremony of the Lokale Agenda 21 für Dresden e.V. and Lions Club Dresden Agenda 21. This year the awards went to the projects “Stories of Change” from Sukuma arts e.V. and „QUERGEDACHT“ from the Entwicklungspolitisches Netzwerk Sachsen e.V. The Public Choice Award went to Afeefa. UN Day in Dresden ended in a celebratory reception with an exhibition from Pro Asyl.
The many lively and engaging conversations and interactions that took place clearly showed that UN Day Dresden proved to have lived up to its goals of raising public awareness on the relevance and importance of the UN and how that is happening right here in Dresden.
To see more photos from the UN Day festivities, view our Flickr albums.