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A voice at the UN table

Deakin law students take their passion for sustainability to the world stage.

Two Deakin law students have participated in a United Nation’s forum where they’ve had the opportunity to discuss the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and build networks with global players and future leaders.

Beau Arnfield and Rukaiyah Abdullah were two of only four students selected from Australia to attend the UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Youth Forum that was part of the larger UNCTAD 2018 World Investment Forum.

Held in Geneva, the Youth Forum offered 250 people aged 18-30 years, and passionate about trade and development issues, a platform to exchange global-focused experiences and bring a youth perspective to a range of discussions.

Its theme of Youth Entrepreneurship: A Force Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Growth covered the topic of youth empowerment across entrepreneurship with a particular focus on investing in digital youth, youth at the negotiation table, what is on the mind of millennials, and how youth can think globally and act locally.

Both Beau and Rukaiyah represented Deakin at the National Student Leadership Forum in Canberra before successfully applying to attend the 2018 UNCTAD Youth Forum. 

Rukaiyah, who will complete a Bachelor of Laws in 2019, has been heavily involved in community and professional work that aligns to the 2030 SDGs and says attending the forum was a life-changing experience.

‘Imagine travelling the world but being under one roof – this is exactly how I would describe it. It has impacted the way I envision my future going forward as I believe that I do play an integral role in shaping the world ahead.’

The largest event of its kind in the world, the UN’s World Investment Forum attracts over 5000 key global stakeholders who come together to discuss the future of world’s economy.

The highlight, she says, was meeting ‘many incredible people’ from government leaders to motivational and inspirational speakers.

‘Being in a room full of likeminded individuals has the most powerful effect that really brings out an individual’s capabilities.’

As an aspiring commercial lawyer, Rukaiyah has a strong interest in business – particularly in emerging markets – and says the Geneva forum was a remarkable, early-career experience.

‘I gained real insight at a global level which has contributed to my professional development. It assisted in providing a holistic view of commercial areas I am interested in such as Blockchain, arbitration and foreign direct investment which you do not get to explore during law school. Going forward, I hope to apply this knowledge to my professional career.’

Beau says he applied to attend the forum because of his passion for innovative, socially-conscious business.

The co-founder and CEO of a social enterprise start-up company, Spair Pair, he is keen to contribute to global change and help create an increasingly sustainable and socially-aware future.

Being able to hear from world leaders and have the opportunity to discuss real issues and design real solutions was a privilege he says.

‘Being selected to attend the 2018 UNCTAD Forum meant the world to me. Being so passionate about innovative social business with an opportunity to represent myself, Deakin University, and Australia at a global forum was a dream come true and one of my long-term goals that I can now successfully mark as completed.’

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