Started as a study project, five ISM alumni are now successfully campaigning for a more sustainable, fairer and more tolerant future. For this, they were recently awarded the "Active for Democracy and Tolerance" prize. What particularly drives them in their work and how they want to integrate more sustainability in business, politics and society, they tell in the interview.
Johanna, can you briefly introduce yourselves on behalf of the entire MUNA+ board? How did you come to found MUNA+?
We, the board of MUNA+, are all connected through our studies at ISM. Vanessa Seipp, Katharina Hausfelder, Tobias Ergenzinger and I (Johanna Echterhoff) met at the National Model United Nations (NMUN) in New York. NMUN is the world's largest United Nations simulation conference, bringing together several thousand students from around the world physically in New York City or virtually each year to work intensively on sustainable solutions to global problems. After attending the conference, the four of us founded the non-profit MUNA+ because we still cared deeply about the issues and wanted to advocate for them and inspire others to find sustainable solutions. Later, Matteo Bertani, also an ISM alumni, joined as the fifth board member. What drives us is the unconditional will to connect sustainability with the topics of business, politics and social interaction in everyday life. As young professionals, we also work on this in our careers or in subsequent courses of study.
What exactly does your work at MUNA+ look like?
To get closer to our vision, we organize digital (and hopefully in the future also physical) events with guest speakers from politics, business and science. We are also active on social media and want to expand our network and spread knowledge about sustainability. In doing so, it is important to us to disseminate only scientifically proven knowledge and to appear politically independent. Furthermore, we try to achieve measurable progress towards the SDGs through projects.
The basis for these activities is the establishment of a network and the promotion of dialogue among each other, because we believe that global problems can only be solved together. Therefore, the contribution of each individual plays a major role. With our nearly 40 members, we are very diverse, both in terms of nationality and professional background. We have succeeded in inspiring urban planners, business economists and even writers to join our vision. They all have an individual view of sustainability and their own ideas, which we are happy to bring together at MUNA+. We work with the firm belief that everyone can (and must) contribute to a sustainable future. That's why everyone is welcome to get involved with us.
Recently, you received an award for your work from the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) and the Alliance for Tolerance and Democracy (Bündnis für Toleranz und Demokratie). What does that mean for your work and the organization?
The award is a great honor for us, which makes us all the more proud of what we have achieved together with our members and supporters over the past year. It shows us that our work has a positive impact and makes the world in our sphere of influence a little bit better. At the same time, it makes us aware once again that we (all) have a responsibility to actively shape the world of tomorrow. We therefore see the award as an incentive to think even bigger in the coming years, to reach more people and to make sustainability even more present and everyday. Despite all the attention that sustainability is currently receiving in business, politics and social debate: We are still a long way from reaching our goal, and there is still a lot to do.
What is your vision for MUNA+ and the topic of sustainability?
Sustainability must become part of everyday life. This must involve all pillars of life - science, business, politics, educational institutions, organizations and individuals. Specifically, we want to help achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by UN member states in 2015 by 2030. In our SDG event series, we follow the motto "learn - discuss - act" because it is important to us not only to talk about sustainability, but to actively integrate sustainable practices and choices into our own lives. This is not about never flying on vacation again or only eating vegan. Rather, it's about questioning habits and practices. If everyone did that and opted for more sustainable alternatives from time to time, we as a human race would already be a big step closer to a sustainable future for all. Of course, this also has to take into account financial possibilities and other life circumstances.
Thank you for giving us insight into your work, Johanna.
If you want to follow the award ceremony, you can do so on May 16, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. via livestream on Youtube or Facebook.
You want to actively campaign for more sustainability and are keen on social media?
MUNA+ is currently looking for one or two interested people who would like to volunteer to help with operational content creation and placement over an initial period of one semester. The time frame of the activity can be arranged flexibly. If you are interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org directly.