PSHS System supports SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation through Model United Nations 2022

Emphasizing the importance of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) System conducted the third edition of its Model United Nations (MUN) Youth Summit in Baguio City on November 28 – December 2.

Hosted by PSHS-Cordillera Administrative Region Campus, the 2022 MUNYS had 96 delegates and 40 dais, a group of people that will be moderating the progression of the committee on the topics at hand, from the 16 PSHS campuses nationwide.

The PSHS System MUN Youth Summit aimed to give the students an opportunity to exercise roles of responsible citizenship and leadership by organizing a platform for their engagement in meaningful research, inclusive conference, and constructive discussion patterned after the framework of the United Nations (UN).

Photo from PSHS System Research, Policy and Academics Division

According to PSHS System Executive Director Lilia T. Habacon, the MUN focused on SDG 6 which encapsulates clean water and sanitation is an important topic often overlooked despite its great role in the earth’s current and future framework. SDG 6 seeks to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation for all, focusing on the sustainable management of water resources, wastewater, and ecosystems, and acknowledging the importance of an enabling environment.

Importance of SDG 6

The most fundamental human need for health and well-being is access to clean water, proper sanitation, and hygiene. If development doesn’t triple, billions of people will lack access to these essential services by 2030. Rapid population expansion, urbanization, and increased water requirements from the agricultural, industrial, and energy sectors are all contributing to an increase in demand for water.

Water stress has been made worse by years of abuse, bad management, excessive groundwater exploitation, and tainted freshwater supplies. As a result of climate change, deteriorating water-related ecosystems, underinvestment in water and sanitation, and inadequate collaboration on transboundary waterways, countries are also confronting an increasing number of difficulties.

According to The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, 74% of the world’s population had access to properly managed drinking water services in 2020, up from 70% in 2015. Even in 2020, two billion people will lack access to appropriately managed drinking water services, with 1.2 billion of those lacking even the most basic level of service.

Between 2015 and 2020, the population’s access to properly managed sanitation rose from 47% to 54%, while the percentage of people with access to indoor handwashing sinks with soap and water rose from 67% to 71%. In order for universal coverage to be achieved by 2030, development rates for these fundamental services would need to triple.

In 2030, 1.6 billion people won’t have access to securely managed drinking water, 2.8 billion won’t have access to safely managed sanitation, and 1.9 billion won’t have access to even the most basic hand hygiene facilities.

Rural areas account for eight out of ten individuals who lack access to even the most basic drinking water services, with least developed nations accounting for nearly half of them (LDCs). Also, the number of persons who practice open defecation declined from 739 million in 2015 to 494 million in 2020. By 2030, there will be no open defecation anywhere in the world.

Over 85% of the world’s wetlands were lost over the past 300 years, primarily due to drainage and land conversion, and many of the remaining wetland regions have been degraded. A growing number of these species are in danger of going extinct since 81% of species that depend on inland wetlands have fallen more quickly since 1970 than species that depend on other biomes.

In 2019, the safe water stress level for the entire planet was 18.6%. While Northern Africa recorded a catastrophic water stress level of over 100%, Southern Asia and Central Asia both observed high levels of water stress of over 75%. In Western Asia and Northern Africa, water stress levels have dramatically risen since 2015.

Holistic learning experience

The role of diplomacy in preserving international peace has increased as the world enters the twenty-first century. Countries all over the world are frantically trying to find a solution to the dilemma of this century as demand for the limited resources skyrockets. The UN serves as a forum for nations to gather and talk about the issues that we, the citizens of the twenty-first century, are confronting.

MUN encourages people to speak up in order to conserve the earth and to voice their ideas about problems that are around them in order to help the younger generations realize the value of diplomacy and collaboration. Model UN also encourages participants to take action for the earth and the issues they may see around them, in addition to assisting participants in developing skills that are advantageous for themselves. Understanding the value of acting also entails becoming more aware of their environment.

“Preparing and participating in the MUN help students develop leadership, research, writing, public speaking, and problem-solving skills.  Coming up with solutions that are acceptable to a majority of the representatives also inculcates skills of negotiation, diplomacy, conflict resolution, and cooperation,” Habacon said.

Model UN gives individuals the chance to improve themselves in addition to being a very meaningful activity. Delegates must arm themselves with a vast knowledge base in order to succeed at a MUN conference. As a result, Model UN encourages these delegates to research the subject and come up with solutions to the challenges. Delegates learn how to better hunt for information while vetting the reliability of their information sources just by preparing for a MUN conference; this in and of itself is already a crucial skill as they mature.

CREAM OF THE CROP. Solborn B. Balawas (fourth from the left) of Philippine Science High School – Cordillera Administrative Region Campus (PSHS-CARC) receives his special distinction as the ‘Most Outstanding Delegate’ during the PSHS System Model United Nations Youth Summit 2022 held in Baguio City on November 28 to December 3. Joining him in the photo are (from left to right) PSHS System Research, Policy and Academics Division Chief Dr. Jessamyn Marie O. Yazon, Mr. Joselito B. Demeterio (coach), Ferdinand V. Veridiano (coach), Mr. Lucio Blanco Pitlo III (judge), Joshua Bernard B. Espeña (judge). Photo from PSHS-CARC.

Students tackled various issues on clean water and sanitation which is an important fundamental human right and integrated solutions that can affect the countries that they represent.

In addition, the MUN provided an entry point into international affairs and introduced students to the wide range of socio-political, human rights, sustainable development, and rule of law issues that are on the UN agenda.

Delegates were grouped to participate in the World Health Organization Committee, UN Women Committee, UN Environment Programme Committee, and UN Security Council Committee.

Solborn B. Balawas of PSHS Cordillera Administrative Region Campus won as most outstanding delegate. 

Three participants were awarded as outstanding delegates namely, Rexine Joy P. Roxas of PSHS Central Luzon Campus, Andrea Kathleen C. Casey and Bonn Camilo M. Piezas who are both from the PSHS Zamboanga Peninsula Region Campus.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo and PSHS Bicol Region Campus Director Engr. Lorvi Pagorogon served as keynote speakers. 

About the Author

Aries Oliveros  currently works as executive assistant to the Executive Director of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) System. He taught English and Literature for 15 years at Paco Catholic School, Philippine Normal University (PNU), and PSHS – Central Luzon Campus. He wrote textbooks on grammar and creative nonfiction. He was formerly Chief of the Curriculum and Instruction Division at PSHS-CLC and adviser of the school papers, The PCS Gazette and The Central Scholar.

He studied Bachelor of Secondary Education, Major in English at PNU, Manila where he graduated cum laude. In 2015, the Department of Education awarded him as Outstanding School Publication Adviser of the Philippines during the National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Taguig City.

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