Youth Advisory Council
Reon Van Der Merwe - South Africa

As a youth associate of the UN Association of South Africa (UNASA) I have been actively involved in the work of UNASA for the past 4 years. I hold an undergraduate degree in politics, philosophy and economics and will be completing my second degree in development studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT) at the end of this year.

I've served on the executive committee of the UNASA chapter at UCT for the past 2 years, including as elected chapter chairman and as an ex-officio member of the UNASA board. During this time the key projects I spearheaded include UNASA's representation at international WFUNA youth initiatives such as WIMUN New York, WIMUN Brazil and the 2017 WFUNA Youth Seminar on UNSCR2250 in Uganda, the establishment of a Sustainable Development Goals Education program at UCT as well as launching a pilot UN Clubs program in local high schools drawing inspiration from the WFUNA Mission Possible initiative. I've also served as UNASA youth liaison for the Cape Town Orange the World Youth Summit in 2017 on "Ending Bullying and Sexual harassment in Schools" as well as liaison and speaker at the African Leaders of Peace Summit 2018.

Though I consider myself a global citizen my heart will always be in Africa. I have a vision to see youth across the continent, from city to countryside, stand up and make our voices heard in the international community. Africa's greatest resource and its future lies in its young people and UN Associations under the umbrella of WFUNA can and must provide the platform to achieve this vision in the 21st century. 

As a representative of both UNA South Africa and potentially Africa on the WFUNA Youth Advisory I hope to use the knowledge and experience I have acquired through my work at UNASA and with the organization's executive to advise on both the unique contributions and challenges that African youth face in engaging with WFUNA and the work of the United Nations. I believe that more opportunities for inter-UNA collaboration and networking on the continent as well as greater support and inclusion of young people from Africa and the global south into WFUNA programs is vital to ensuring that the work of the organization remains effective, equitable and sustainable.