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Based on the theme, “Innovation and Collaboration for a Sustainable World,” Drooff joined nearly 1,000 delegates from 100 countries to attend lectures and workshops hosted by global leaders in the subjects of urban planning, water conservation, renewable energy, and food security. Hoping to ultimately pursue a career in international social entrepreneurship post-Dartmouth, Drooff entered the conference with a critical lens.
“After taking so many Geography classes at Dartmouth, it’s hard to ignore the shortcomings of Western supranational organizations like the UN. While I was thrilled to engage with intelligent, ambitious, and social justice-oriented young people from all over the world, I also realize that many delegates, including myself, have a tremendous amount of privilege to be able to attend a conference like this. From the $200 conference fee, to the lodging and meal costs (apparently, the UN doesn’t have money to feed their global delegation), the real theme of the conference was more ‘pay-to-play.’ Unsurprisingly, the conference event schedule also seemed to prioritize superficial “networking” and feel-good speeches over honest, direct conversations about the things that actually prevent us from achieving a sustainable world: economic inequality; structural racism and sexism; neoliberal multiculturalism; incrementalism; and unfettered capitalism. That all being said, however, I did benefit from several of the workshops (i.e. Social Inclusion in Cities, The Road to 2030: Engaging the Private Sector in the SDGs, etc.), and left the conference feeling grateful for my experience. My two biggest takeaways? 1) I don’t want to work for the UN, and, 2) I am now even more committed to taking bold action in my own career, and to supporting grassroots efforts to improve the livelihoods of people across the world.”