Dialogue with the Students: Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, UN Assistant Secretary General and UNEP Deputy Executive Director


On Wednesday, October 11, 2023, the International University of Sarajevo was a proud host of “Dialogue with the Students”, an event organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which addressed a burning issue of actively engaging youth into activities in the field of environmental protection.

The guest of honor was Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) and UNEP Deputy Executive Director. Ms. Mrema was accompanied by Mr. Carlos Barragan, Chief of Human Resources in UNEP, Mr. Arnold Kreilhuber, Regional Director and Representative of the Regional Office for Europe, Mr. Rami Abdel Malik, Special Assistant to the Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Alejandro Laguna Lopez, Communications Officer for Europe at UNEP, Ms. Sonja Gebert, Associate Programme Management Officer and Matea Grabovac, National Officer. The UNEP delegation was welcomed by the IUS Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Research, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kanita Karađuzović-Hadžiabdić, President of the IUS SDG Executive Committee, Asst. Prof. Dr. Azra Bičo and IUS University Communications Office Manager, Ms. Velida Handžić-Mirica.

The welcoming speech was delivered by Prof. Karađuzović-Hadžiabdić who thanked the esteemed guests for organizing the event and emphasized the importance of raising awareness of environmental protection. She added that IUS is always ready to organize events and similar activities related to this topic. Following the welcoming speech, Asst. Prof. Dr. Azra Bičo, President of the IUS SDG Executive Committee presented the University activities regarding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which have been incorporated into over 40 University courses so far. IUS keeps striving towards raising awareness of the Goals and Agenda 2030 by involving its staff and students in numerous workshops, events and initiatives that contribute to addressing environmental challenges.

The guest of honor, Ms. Mrema welcomed the students as young environmental professionals whose main task is to start acting now because the future is now, not tomorrow. She pointed out that UNEP is putting pressure on the youth to engage in activities related to environmental protection because the youth will then influence the governments to amend and enforce relevant laws. In addition, she said that environmental protection starts at home and at a young age.

Mr. Carlos Barragan presented the scope of work UNEP does all around the world as well as his own journey towards his current position of Chief of Human Resources in UNEP. He invited the students to explore UNEP more and join their forces in their efforts to create a better, more sustainable future for the generations to come.

The last part of the event was reserved for the students who had a lot of questions for the guests. The guests replied with patience and offered useful pieces of advice on what young people can do to change the world for the better. The students were mainly interested in learning why governments do not work harder to impose environmentally friendly legislations or whether Agenda 2030 is achievable or not and what can be done to speed up its implementation.