More than 600 young delegates from seven countries gathered online this week for the 10th annual Thimun Qatar Conference, which sees high school students from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe ensure the voice of youth is heard on the most crucial conversations shaping global society.
Under the banner of Thimun Qatar X – Climate Action, this year’s showcase of student agency saw young people aged from 14-18 participate in simulations of 17 United Nations (UN) forums – discussing and debating issues surrounding climate change, reaching resolutions that will now go before influential eyes, and advocating for causes they believe in.
The four-day conference is organised by the Thimun Qatar Regional Office under QF’s Pre-University Education and was jointly established with the Thimun (The Hague Model United Nations) Foundation and each of its committees and commissions being linked to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate action.
Sama Ayoub, Thimun Qatar co-secretary general, told the conference’s international youth audience that climate events must stop being referred to as “natural disasters”, saying, “It is not natural when science already tells us global warming will induce more intense storms, and when the human species has already profoundly changed the climate.
“Our society cannot afford to procrastinate in tackling climate change. Our society needs to start acting before it is too late. To take action, we need leaders who can inspire a movement – and that is you, as young people. I would go as far as to say young people are the solution to global climate change.”
Ayoub’s fellow Thimun Qatar X co-secretary general, Rohan Gupta, said, “I hear well-meaning and well-intentioned adults and diplomats say the youth are the future, but the reality is that the youth are today – we are societal actors, and our actions can effect change. We don’t have to wait until we are adults to make a different; we can start now.
“The conversations you have this week do not stop here. You need to take what you learn from the conference outside the debate rooms, lift the knowledge you have gained at Thimun Qatar and the words of your resolutions, and enforce them into action. Our generation of young people needs to take responsibility for the world we will soon inherit, and ensure generations to come have a safe world to live in.”
Simulations during the conference included the UN General Assembly, Security Council, World Health Assembly, Environment Commission, Human Rights Council, and Economic and Social Council. Meanwhile, Thimun Qatar X also provided a special training conference for those with no previous experience of Model United Nations (MUN) events, and a Directors Training Institute to support more experienced MUN leaders develop the leadership skills of others.
“Thimun Qatar is an extraordinarily unique experience, not only as education for advocacy, but also because we connect you to real-life experiences and skillsets that nobody else can,” Fatima El-Mahdi, head of Thimun Qatar, told delegates at the conference’s opening ceremony.
“We provide a platform for delegates to debate issues on the agenda and bring in actual change-makers to review those resolutions; and encourage delegates to learn and use the skills they gain at Thimun Qatar to become advocates and champions causes – student voice.”