NFGL Local Network Halmstad visits UN City: It was ‘wonderful and interesting’

NFGL Local Network Halmstad's Chairperson Victor A. Nyakundi shares his impressions of his network's trip to UN City in Copenhagen.

NFGL Local Network Halmstad visits UN City: It was 'wonderful and interesting'
NFGL Local Network Halmstad at UN City in Copenhagen.

On the 23rd of March, Halmstad University Local Network organized a field trip to the UN City in Copenhagen. Swedish Institute (SI) members from Lund and Blekinge University, thanks to the help of Blekinge's Judy Achieng, also had the opportunity to join the visitors.

The theme of sustainable development inspired the UN City building, which together with the role of the UN as the international voice promoting sustainability and development internationally, makes UN City a popular place.

The event was made possible by good planning and coordination between the chapters and the UN and, most importantly, due to the funding credit available to the SI team. Prior to the visit, we were all looking forward to it, enthusiastic and a little anxious as well.

Finally, on the cloudy, quiet and chilly morning of the 23rd March, we left Halmstad to go by bus on the long-waited trip. After driving down through the beautiful nature of Sweden, we arrived safely at the UN city and joined the rest of the group coming from other locations at the agreed meeting point: the UN office's waiting bay.  

We had then been warmly welcomed by our hosts and taken out for lunch before following the planned agenda of the day, in which the main event was the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) presentation.

We attended the wonderful and interesting presentation led by UN representatives, who are part of the UN public diplomacy and communication unit. The presentation touched on different topics: the UN background, its leadership, the SDGs and, most importantly, the international role of the UN.

I discovered really important learnings about the wide range of initiatives set by the UN.

For instance, restoring peace and stability, giving food supplies to areas affected by terrorism and/or natural calamities, such as drought and famine, supporting infrastructural developments, protecting human rights, funding initiatives for children, advocating women's rights, and last but not least, promoting environmental initiatives as well as developmental projects.  

In the meantime, we also learned how the 17 UN SDGs have helped the world to become a better place.

Ranging from poverty, hunger, health, education, gender, sanitation, affordable clean energy, economic growth, innovation and infrastructure, inequalities and sustainable cities among others, we understood how these goals have complemented each other, how they have impacted today's societies and most importantly, the urge to develop them even further.

After the wonderful presentation, we had a tour of the UN city for almost an hour.

To our amazement, the building covers the equivalent of five football fields. Moreover, the award-winning structure has been designed in an energy-saving way. Most offices are lit just by natural light, cutting down on electricity costs. Besides, there are over a thousand of solar panels on the rooftop and the latter taps rainwater!

Most significantly, there is one common staircase in the building, which was deliberately planned to bring together people from different UN agencies.

At the end of the visit and these memorable moments, we extended our gratitude to the presenter of the day and we left the UN City glad for the opportunity given and with a thought in our minds about how we could help at an individual level to contribute to the global SDGs after having learned about their importance.

Finally, I would like to thank the UN, the SI students and all the stakeholders.

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Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.