On Wednesday 21st February, six students from 4 ESO travelled to England with Nicola Dignum, the MUN Director, for five days to visit Cambridge and attend a Model Arctic Council conference in Norwich. The Arctic Council consists of eight countries and six indigenous peoples and it differs slightly from MUN as they have to try and reach consensus on all matters. Our students were in delegations of three representing Canada and the Saami Council. The conference is quite small, about seventy students, so a good opportunity for the students to mix together and make friends.
Thursday in Cambridge by Iciar Eulate:
In Cambridge we had a really good time. After having breakfast in the hostel we went on a tour with a woman called Mary who was very nice that showed us some of the colleges and taught us many things about Cambridge, for example that Cambridge is named after the river Cam, which I found very interesting. She also showed us the pub called “Eagle”, which has all the roof covered with nicotine and paintings made by american pilots during the Second World War. This pub was also where two famous scientists discovered DNA. After the tour we had a walk arround the town centre and went through the market looking for Cambridge sweatshirts. Then we had lunch at zizzi, an italian restaurant which serves very good pizzas. Afterwards we went exploring the city and made two friends who served street food and wanted to learn spanish, so we taught them some spanish words. We managed to walk arround the city without getting lost, and we arrived at the hostel just in time, after we had bought our cambridge sweatshirts and souvenirs.
Tour of Cambridge
Visiting Queens´College, Cambridge
Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program Working Group (AMAP) by Nerea Cuesta:
In AMAP we discussed the importance of methane hydrates and the effect they have in climate change. We discussed the topic on Saturday morning and about two hours before, just for lunch, we had come up with a resolution that we all agreed on. Natalia Carreira was representing Canada and I was representing The Saami Council. We had been researching for a couple of weeks before the conference but as I was the delegate of an Arctic group of indigenous people I had it quite difficult in order to search information, so I decided to send an email to the president of the Saami. Unfortunately, they replied the last day, at the airport.
So about the AMAP committee, we arrived on Saturday about 9 o’clock and started with the speeches. Then, the delegate of the USA gave out some copies of the resolution she had made and we all started making amendments to the operative and preambulatory clauses. We discussed until we all agreed and we went to have lunch.
Nerea and Natalia in their working group
Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) by Irati Taboada:
In the working groups of the SDWG we discussed the implementation of broadband connectivity in Arctic communities, especially for Indigenous people who have more difficulties than the other Arctic states. The delegates of USA and Aleut proposed each one a resolution, then we took the USA one and we add some of the clauses of the Aleut resolution. After that some other delegates add some more amendments to conclude with the resolution.
Before start discussing the resolution each delegate made a speech saying what was the position of their country due to the issue and what they were hoping of the conference and the resolution as a whole. Generally all the delegates participated so much to make the resolution, however, the Aleut delegate, the USA delegate and also the delegate of the Kingdom of Denmark standed out the most because of their great proposements.
Maialen and Irati in their working group
Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) by Maria Lacabex:
I was representing The Saami Council, an indigenous group from Sweden, Russia and Denmark. The topic that we discussed was Seismic exploration for oil and gas in the arctic offshore, that is a problem that affects sea animals so it also affects the indigenous people that live off fishing.
First we had to made speech talking about the current situation of our country or permanent participant (indigenous groups) and how the seismic exploration is affecting us. After that, all delegates were working together with the purpose of finding a solution keeping in mind all delegates suggestions. Finally we made a resolution with several solutions to the problem, it was very interesting and I really enjoyed the topic and now I know much more about the arctic and indigenous people.
All delegates participated a lot, we discussed until we reach an agreement. The main participants were USA and Gwich’in (an indigenous group) they did a great job.
Maria and Iciar in their working group
Senior Arctic Officers’ and Ministers’ Meetings by Maialen Torre:
All the delegates from the three different Working Groups discussed the resolutions that passed from the working groups in the Senior Arctic Officers’ (SAO) and Ministerial meetings. On saturday, the first resolution discussed in the SAO meeting was the PAME one, proposed by the Finland committee. We were two hours discussing it but finally it didn't past because the USA delegation did not agree. After that, we had half an hour break where we ate some cookies and took some drinks. Then we start discussing the broadband connectivity resolution and after some amendments and some deleted clauses the resolution passed as all Arctic communities voted in favour of it. Finally, the AMAP resolution wasn't discussed because two delegations did not agree.
On Sunday we have the ministerial meeting but before that the president of NORMAC, Dr. Anthony Speca, talked to each delegation explaining what were the most convenient things to do. Later, we discussed the broadband connectivity resolution and as in the SAO meeting it passed. To conclude with the ministerial meeting we discussed a resolution proposed by the Inuit delegation about the EU as an observer of the Arctic Council. Finally it didn't pass because the USA voted against it as the EU will take away most of their power in the Arctic Council influencing other member states that are also members of the EU as well as the Arctic Council.
Voting in the SAO meeting
Lobbying in the Ministers´meeting
Social Events by Natalia Carreira:
Friday afternoon after spending one hour and a half in the car, we arrived to the hotel in Norwich, where we left all our suitcases and organised all our stuff for the next two days of conference at the Norwich school. That evening we attended the open ceremony of the conference at the school. When we arrived, we were nearly the only ones there because many people were a little bit late, but then they started arriving. First we were only with our school’s friends but then we managed to start talking with many other students. They were from many different schools all over England, so we were the only foreigners who attended the conference. When it was time to have dinner, we sat in twos in different tables so we could get to know even more people. Each of us met many other students and so the next two days we could get to know all of them. We had a really good time there and even though food was a little bit cold and we didn’t eat too much we enjoyed it so much and had a great time with our new friends, who were so kind and nice to us.
We were very lucky as we had the opportunity to listen to the family that had been living in the Arctic for a long time and produced a film that we saw the following day. The film was very interesting and we enjoyed it very much. The film was about a teenager living in Greenland in an indigenous community, the Inuit. It's called ‘The Village at the End of the World’. The film taught us about this people’s day a day life and how difficult and hard is for them to live in a village which doesn’t have any facilities for communication, not even to achieve the food they need to eat. This people’s life is based on what they manage to fish, because they have nothing else to live from. Of course this film had a great impact on us. It made us very conscious of what we have and that we have to bear it always in mind because there are many people who can’t enjoy the things we have, and of course we learnt a lot about indigenous peoples’ life. Finally we got to the point that we have many privileges they don’t have, and we have to appreciate it.