On Monday, December 5, ISP's Secondary School was paid a visit by Erik Solheim, Head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and parent to two ISP students. He came to talk about African development and the peace making process.
"One starting idea is that there is not one Africa. Forget that!"
Mr Solheim spoke to the students over two sessions. During the first he explained his role as a chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). What decisions need to be made to create global rules to stimulate development assistance for less economically developed countries? His exploration of this question fed into the students' current unit of inquiry in history, "Focus on Africa", a topic in which Mr Solheim has a great deal of expertise. Having visited more than 30 African countries himself, he shared his wide-ranging knowledge of the continent with the students and answered their questions.
"There are much bigger differences in Africa than there are in Europe."
Mr Solheim described some of Africa's biggest challenges, such as disease and the scarcity of main human food groups and animals suited to domestic use. These problems are what make Africa, in his opinion, a uniquely difficult place to live. Following on from this session, the students are looking at stories of African success against this challenging backdrop.
During the second session Mr Solheim focused on his experience in a number of important peace negotiations, primarily his role as the chief negotiator in the repeated attempts to establish peace between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. He spoke specifically about the peace making process to tie in with the students' "Conflict and Conflict Resolution" unit of inquiry.
Mr Solheim and his family have the kind of international background that is common to many ISP families. Having lived in Paris for several years, the family will soon be relocating back to Nairobi, Kenya, where Mr Solheim will continue his work. We would like to say a big thank you to Mr Solheim for sharing his expertise with the students at ISP!