On Wednesday, I got to venture to the United Nations City of Denmark. This visit’s goal was to provide a basic understanding about the World Health Organization (WHO) for my public health class, health beyond borders, but it provided MUCH more than that.
The UN City has numerous organizations in their building, ranging from UNICEF, refugee organizations, WHO and plenty more. And as cool as that is, the building these departments are in is just as incredible to learn about.
The building was designed to represent the hands of the world that reach out to all corners of the world but all come together in one core. Hence, the strange looking building from this Ariel view. But, this strange look has a substantial amount of sustainable features. For security purposes, the building is on an island, which they preferred over a wall, because they want to be safe, but also welcoming to the community.
Being on an island, the water is the main source of generating heat and cooling agents. Although my physics course could probably provide me with this mechanism, it’s not really important other than it is extremely green because it’s using a renewable energy source (sea water) another feature (that my dad would love) is that rooms are only heated and cooled based on the presence of humans, aka the floors are sensored to recognize when there are people in the room and will adjust to the proper temperature (no more telling us to stop touching the thermostat @dad). We were able to go into an empty room and see these effects because it was honestly freezing when we walked in but warm when we left.
The next major sustainable process in this building was through the vegetation on the island and the permeable roof. Both of these sites take in rain water and then that water is cleansed and dispersed through the building as toilet water and other forms. Any water that goes unused is filtered and returned back to the sea.
Although there are plenty of other features like the 196 solar panels, over 6,000 bike parking spots, lead certification, and others, one thing I thought was really cool is actually a national law in Denmark that all offices must provide the option of natural light. With that being said every office has total control over the shades that can automatically open and close to optimize the natural light.
Finally we learned about UNICEF and their warehouse visible from the building we were in. We heard about how it is completely automatic systems, where robots do all of the moving and processing, and if a disaster should strike, Denmark will be one of the first ones active to supply the location because of this process.
Once we learned about all of the incredible features of the building we obviously had to learn about WHO. Although we’ve only have two weeks of class, my public health class has brought a lot of ideas into sight. We’ve learned how there is a natural movement of progression to evolve to a state of ‘better’ or healthier or stronger in regards to health, human rights, and equality. We’ve also learned how very very rarely does a region dissolve backwards, and dissolving backwards is a sign of problems ahead. I’ve placed myself in a semester long project group focusing on Syria and the crisis there and the effects it has on the health of the individuals there. We’ve learned about the 17 sustainable development goals for the next few years regarding decreasing poverty, recognizing actions that need to be taken regarding climate change, education for all, gender equality and plenty more. We’ve learned about human rights, and what they entail, specifically “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in spirit and brotherhood” – universal declaration of human rights. At UN city we learned how WHO helps to regulate and better countries in need, how they step in when aid is needed, recognize and instate policies needed to optimize the health of individuals throughout the globe.
As a closing thought, I find it interesting to reflect on my current position as a member of this “brotherhood” of the globe. Every class each group presents their latest findings on their respective countries: Syria-conflict causes impacts health, DPRK – lack of human rights impacts health, the list goes on for 6 more developing and developed countries, and the last to share is our professor, discussing the trends in the United States of America so we have something to compare our project countries to.
Through visitng the UN City and overhearing words such as Trump, America, etc intertwined in the Danish speakers, seeing an emphasis of the US on the news that I watch with my host family, and seeing Trump graffiti on abandoned buildings in Copenhagen, I personally question what the description of the United States presented at the beginning of class will be as I further in this semester. These past two weeks speak loudly to Americans and the globe. As an American citizen, a scientist, a woman and plenty more, I question the role America has in this “brotherhood” of humans.