For 65 years, Harvard Model United Nations has brought together some of the most impressive young leaders from around the United States, and around the world, to debate how to address the most pressing issues of the day. Over time, the issues we address have changed, and great strides have been made. Fewer people now live in absolute poverty than at any time in human history, and the improvement of global welfare has been rapid, and dramatic. But there is still much to do, and new challenges have emerged. Globalization has created great opportunities, but also great social division; wealth disparities around the world have increased exponentially, and the spectre of civil war and geopolitical conflict has not faded, even if the Cold War has. HMUN asks young leaders from around the world – what are you going to do about it?

The mission of this conference has always been to foster a constructive debate on complex global issues, and empower young leaders. But never before has it been so vital that young people step up and lead. Increasingly, the world around us is facing systemic problems that our generation will have to inherit, whether we like it or not. From massive humanitarian crises around the world, to climate change, mass migration, to the technological revolution, young people cannot and should not be bystanders. We are seeing around the world, young people standing up and making their voices heard. From very public movements in the United States, to young people in the Middle East defending free speech, to student entrepreneurs in West Africa, we are seeing the enormous impact our generation can have.

The skills you will learn at HMUN – effective negotiation, public speaking, critical thinking, co-operation – are intended to help amplify your voice. The topics we address in our committees are intended to prepare you for the challenges the world is facing and will face in the next few decades. Perhaps the greatest learning opportunity comes from the diversity of delegates at our conference, from radically different backgrounds, from all around the world.

We want delegates to take away from their experience at HMUN a belief that they can make change – not just in the future, but now. That’s why our conference theme this year is ‘Leadership in Action’. This theme will permeate through all aspects of conference: from the guest speakers we bring in to talk to delegates to the committees and topics themselves, a great emphasis will be placed on empowering delegates with the knowledge and skills to make change for themselves outside of the committee room.