Hunger and food security are two of the most pressing issues for the United Nations — issues only made harder by climate change and armed conflict. Against this backdrop, the UNU Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) joined a global challenge: to draft and debate a plan in support of Sustainable Development Goal 2 — to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”.
In partnership with the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), UNU-MERIT served as the European site for the NASPAA-Batten Student Competition 2017. This global event was hosted by eight universities (five in the United States, and one in each from China, Colombia, and the Netherlands) which dealt with the same challenge and came up with concrete and actionable policy proposals.
Graduate students from these schools came together to design models geared towards achieving SDG 2, using advanced software developed by the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. It included a pre-written case study, which allowed them to review projects in a similar manner to the UN and its specialised agencies. The simulation therefore provided a realistic snapshot of the day-to-day work of policymakers.
Participants were assigned to different regions of the world and prepared memorandums and presentations on the challenges of regional and international tensions. Each site had two or more teams evaluated by judges with broad academic and policy experience. At the end, the eight site winners were further reviewed by a panel of “super judges” who then selected a global winner. The team from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia claimed the global title.