Guest Article – After Model IRENA: we are no longer subjects but actors

Article by Model IRENA participant Yassmine Houmane (@yasshoumane)
Winner of the “Social Media Guru” award at Model IRENA 2015

Yassmine Houmane representing Norway at Model IRENA 2015
Yassmine Houmane representing Norway at Model IRENA 2015

The benefits of renewable energy go beyond environmental health. Renewables generate more jobs than other sources of energy and work to power our economy. I therefore believe renewable energy can and will transform the world.

As “In union, there is strength”, international cooperation is needed to achieve the renewable energy transition; this is made possible by IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, which serves as the principle platform for international cooperation, a center of excellence and a repository of policy and knowledge on renewable energy. By launching the Model IRENA programme in 2015, IRENA educated and engaged young people on the world’s most pressing energy challenges.

Model IRENA was a two week-long series of events building to the final simulation exercise which was modeled after the IRENA Council. It started with workshops that exposed us to the inner workings of IRENA and enabled us to learn from experts in the renewable energy sector. Each participant was assigned to represent a country and in order to learn as much information as we could about that countries view on energy and climate issues, meetings were organized with Embassy’s representatives.

For my side, I represented Norway. During those two weeks, I thoroughly researched the topics we would discuss during the Model IRENA council simulation, as well as the geography, culture, politics and history of Norway. With the kind help of Ms. Silje Anderson, a Political Analyst from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, I gathered an incredible amount of information and was able to develop positions on each issue, taking into consideration the particular needs and goals of Norway.

During the visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we were introduced to the art of multilateral diplomacy and the working mechanisms of the Agency’s governance meetings experience. We also experienced the pressure that comes along with developing positions in international negotiations.

After the preparatory phase, we conducted the Model IRENA Council simulation. We stepped into the shoes of IRENA delegates to draft resolutions, plot strategy and negotiate. We acted as global citizens. It was an opportunity to grow the knowledge, skills and relationships needed to build a better global sustainable future. We were no longer subjects but actors that can make a change in the world. As we talked about ‘renewable energy and climate change’ and ‘socio-economic benefits of renewable energy‘, I recognized that the greatest challenge was not a lack of time, money or energy, but rather the difficulty of learning to negotiate and compromise with people from every background and perspective. Model IRENA not only helped us to face that challenge, but to overcome it.

From the moment I set foot in the Model IRENA Council simulation, I had to represent Norway’s interests in the global community as a diplomat, not those of my home country Morocco. I believe that there is no better way to understand how the world works than to try walking in the shoes of others.

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