Monday, 6 December 2010

DECC Youth Panel presents... 'Energy: How fair is it anyway?'

Over the past few months, Daisy and I (two of the ‘Copenhagen 4’) have sat on the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC’s) Youth Advisory Panel. Our role is to advise DECC about the youth perspective on their policies, and to embed the ideas of intergenerational equity and long termism into their decision making process.

The Panel was formed in February of this year, and comprises around 16 core members, each representing a range of organisations – I was representing UNICEF, but Oxfam, the National Union of Students, the Scouts, People and Planet, WWF, Plan, UKYCC and many other groups were also represented. We met a few times to discuss how we were going to work and what sort of things we would be doing, and the civil servants we met seemed to welcome us as genuinely helpful in letting them know what young people thought about the work they were doing.

In July, we were finally given our first proper project. DECC is launching their ‘Roadmap to 2050’ early next year, which is their vision of how the UK can meet its self-imposed target of 80% emissions reduction by mid-century. They wanted us to investigate our own pathway to 2050, and we were lucky enough to be funded by Sciencewise to create our own report on the issue. They’ve launched their own (rather complicated) ‘Pathways Calculator’, which you can use to find out how you might sort out our energy problems.

The energy mix of 2050 is something that is uniquely relevant to young people. We are going to be the ones who will live with the decisions made today, so the Panel decided to travel around the country, visiting places that demonstrate potentially relevant energy technologies for 2050. From offshore wind to coal fired-power stations, and from a nuclear plant to an eco-friendly home, we investigated the implications of different sorts of energy solutions to the problem of how we’ll produce and use energy in a low-carbon way over the next few decades.

Shocked by the amount we learned on one of the visits!

Having visited sites around the UK and surveyed hundreds of young people on their thoughts, we were able to launch a pretty well-informed and comprehensive report last Thursday, called Energy: How fair is it anyway?. Our recommendations included things like phasing out coal-fired power stations (at least, those which lacked technology to reduce their emissions) within the decade and a 0% VAT rate on home energy efficiency improvement measures. We also asked the government to develop a clear long term strategy for dealing with nuclear waste, in the interests of intergenerational equity. You can view the rest of the report and the recommendations we made HERE.

I was lucky enough to sit on the presenting Panel, along with two other Panellists and Prof. David MacKay, the Chief Scientific Adviser to DECC. We talked a bit about the report and tried to answer questions about the specifics of our recommendations. The audience comprised civil servants, representatives from our organisations and other interested parties. It was also streamed live online, and we had video links with young people at climate conferences in Cancun and Brussels. You can find out more about the launch and see how it happened HERE.

Me, trying to think of something to say...

It felt great not only to be part of a unique experiment of embedding the voices of young people in government, but also to be given the opportunity to represent the Panel in our first public launch event. The inclusion of the youth perspective in high-level decision-making is essential, especially with regards to issues like climate change. Let’s hope it continues!

Please read the report, discuss it in your schools and colleges, and let us know what you think of it by emailing us at! You can also see the Panel’s blog HERE.



Monday, 20 September 2010

Does yellow plus blue equal green?

One of the many perks of being a young climate volunteer is that you get to explore every corner of the UK; from Newcastle, to Wales and the ins and outs of the London underground. Yesterday, I travelled up to Liverpool to take part in one of the fringe events at the Liberal Democrat party conference.

Organised by UNICEF UK, Christian Aid and the Climate Clinic, the session was titled 'What does a Lib Dem response to global climate change look like?'. This was only the first of many difficult questions that were raised and explored during the evening.

The Panel leading the session consisted of Neil Stocklev of the Liberal Sustainability Network and the Zero Carbon Britain working group, Alex Cobham, Christian Aid's Chief Policy Advisor, Fiona Hall MEP and little old me! Needless to say, I felt quite daunted sitting on such an experienced and influential panel and in front of an audience of MPs, NGOs and researchers.

But then I considered the idea that the whole discussion was about my future; about if and how the Lib Dems are safeguarding my future rights and wellbeing in 2050. At the risk of sounding arrogant, it was them who had to impress me, not the other way around.

The Liberal Democrats have always been one of the most progressive parties when it comes to policy on global climate change, but now they are in power, how are they translating this sentiment into government action? Fiona spoke of Chris Huhne's drive to push the EU for a 30% greenhouse gas reductions target by 2020 and also their pledge to cut central government emissions by 10% in the next 12 months - the 10:10 campaign.

However, if Nick Clegg and David Cameron are really going to live up to their promise of being 'the greenest government ever', more needs to be done. Alex of Christian Aid called for ambition and leadership from the UK Government and for them to accept their responsibilities on the global stage. And that's where I suggest young people come in.

Not only is it important to recognise that the decisions made today will impact future generations, but aslo to value the role that young people can have in shaping that future. From my experience at UNICEF Children's Climate Forum, young people embrace the opportunity to act as global citizens with moral long-term principles. We can accept the challenges, sacrifices and opportunities that lie ahead, and I hope that, by working alongside young people, the UK Government can too.

Katie x

Monday, 13 September 2010

UNICEF UK goes to the Thames Festival

Luckily the weather was fine in London on Saturday night – I was at the Thames Festival (pictured left our stall with volunteers Mya and Sonal who were collecting signatures on Sunday) getting signatures for UNICEF UK's petition to Nick Clegg on the Millennium Development Goals.
You might have heard of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a series of goals set by the UN in 2000. There are 8 goals to be achieved by 2015;

• Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
• Achieve universal primary education
• Promote gender equality and empower women
• Reduce child mortality
• Improve maternal health
• Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases
• Ensure environmental sustainability
• Develop a Global Partnership for Development

On 20th of September world leaders are attending a review meeting in New York to discuss the progression of the MDGs and accelerate progress towards achieving the goals by 2015.

At the moment, we're not on target to meet the goals. For example approximately 1.5 million children still die every year due to preventable illnesses caused by poor sanitation or lack of clean water and 280,000 children under 15 die of AIDS related illnesses.

UNICEF UK’s petition is going to Nick Clegg as the UK's representative at the meeting next week to ask him to;

• increase funding for safe water and toilets for those who have been left behind and persuade other governments to do the same
• prioritise the rights of girls and other disadvantaged groups of children living in the least developed countries in his speech and in the agenda for action on the UN goals in order to secure the greatest progress
• put in place taxes on the financial sector (the 'Robin Hood Tax') that could raise up to £20 billion a year and for that money to be spent helping the poor at home and abroad and tackling climate change

We had a really successful evening at the Thames Festival, and got a very good reception from the festival-goers. We managed to get a total of over 1,000 signatures and raised awareness of the MDGs and the need to put pressure on world leaders to ensure they up the ante and make sure the goals are met by 2015.

If you haven't already, please sign the e-petition at before it closes on 19th September.

Ruby :-)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Volunteering at Underage

By Georgina Johnson.

My name’s Georgina and I was a part of the volunteer team for the UNICEF Tagd stall at the Underage Festival in Victoria park, London on August 1st.

Having found out about UNICEF through a friend who had been volunteering with them for quite some time, I was eager to get involved.

Alice from UNICEF UK organised a volunteers’ briefing at their office the week before Underage. This was a chance for all the volunteers to meet, converse and generally become comfortable with one and another. It was great!

The briefing began with an icebreaker in which we each were paired with someone we didn’t know. My partner, Flo, was hilarious, which made it so much easier to talk and work together. Then Alice and Anne told us about UNICEF UK’s current campaign on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and about the 'Robin Hood Tax'.

As David Cameron will be on paternity leave (I know, awww), Nick Clegg his deputy will be attending the important MDGs review meeting at the UN in New York. UNICEF UK is promoting a petition to Nick Clegg asking for access to toilets for children all over the world. The aim for Underage was to get 1000 signatures for the petition to show the support of the public for our cause.

I must admit when I heard 1000, I was like ‘wow!’, but after meeting with the organisation and honestly feeling the positivity of each individual I was more than confident we could meet our objective.


The morning of Underage: Woke up early, had plenty of calls reminding me of the TIME and left my house earlier than ever. We met Alice outside Victoria park and once we received our state of the art 'ARENA' armbands and the UNICEF t-shirts it was official , we were a team!

Before the actual event started, we had to set up the stall, which meant having to fight with a severely stubborn blow up armchair, arranging leaflets and putting up banners. That was soon done, but then I had to experience the dreaded portaloos. Once witnessing firsthand the inside of one in all its glory, I persuaded everyone to simply hold it and wait.

As the crowds of teenagers rushed in, we all got ready for action. Approaching people was much easier than I thought. I went for the ‘normal conversation approach’ and most people reacted really positively.

We worked in teams of three and got as many signatures as we could - we all just wanted to achieve our goal! At times we ran out of fuel, but we reminded each other of what and who we were doing this for and the lovely opportunity we had been given.

I didn’t feel as though I was missing out on the actual festival, I could hear the music very clearly from where we were situated. Alice and Anne gave us equal time to each watch some of the artists we liked and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Chiddy Bang , Chase and Status and Tiny Tempah were the highlights for me. Every time a song that everyone knew came on everybody sang in chorus. It was GREAT!

Later on in the day we found out that we had smashed our target! I think at that point everyone was elated. Anne kept on saying – 'Let’s bulldoze past that 1000 target and run straight through, you can do it guys'. And we did. I think we collected around 1500 signatures. Everyone was happy, we’d all helped to make a point: Young people care.

At the end of the day we had time to watch M.I.A, an artist I have long waited to see! M.I.A, being a bit diva-ish, came a bit late, but no one cared, as soon as we heard the sirens and her voice in the distance everyone was on fire. She performed Born free and Paper Planes as her finale whilst I was pushed and shoved to the front by who knows who,
As the show came to a close I reflected on the successes of the day and smiled.

Thank you UNICEF.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tagd at Underage Festival

William Stringer was our lucky winner of tickets to the Underage Festival. Here he writes about his day in London, and what he found out about how UNICEF puts it right for children everywhere.

By William Stringer
My name’s William and I was the lucky winner of UNICEF Tagd’s competition for tickets to the Underage Festival in Victoria Park, London on Sunday 1st August. I only found out about the competition because I was researching some information about the upcoming Millennium Development Goals being held in September.

I simply sent off my answer to the question along with some contact details; it was actually so easy that I thought I had done it wrong! Afterwards, if I’m honest, I completely forgot about the competition. I’m one of those really annoying people who go on about never winning anything. Therefore, as soon as I sent the email, I resigned myself to believing that there was no chance.

So you can imagine my shock when I got a phone call saying that I had won the tickets. I remember distinctly not really being able to form sentences together, so much was my excitement. And that’s how I came to be jetting off from Belfast to Gatwick.

Underage Festival was blessed with beautiful summer weather, thankfully no need for my summer jacket. My first port of call was the UNICEF tent which was brimming with some of the friendliest people in London, a stark contrast to the silent underground I had just travelled on. I was given a Fairtrade tote bag and, in exchange, gave them my email address to aid UNICEF’s current campaign to provide millions of children with access to proper sanitation. The tote bag came in handy as I was able to stash my jacket in and head off to listen to some music.

Haduken played an impressive set claiming we were the “maddest crowd they had played to all summer”. Dust clouds erupted from beneath worn out feet, as we danced to various musicians from Ellie Goulding to No Mean City. The atmosphere was amazing, everyone excitedly hurrying between the six stages so as not to miss any of their favourite bands. I’d like to thank UNICEF Tagd for the opportunity to go to Underage Festival - it was great fun! I urge anyone to get more involved with their work in campaigning for children’s rights and also sign their campaign action to enable children across the world to get safe water and sanitation. UNICEF Tagd got 1575 people to sign up to the action at the Festival, but they need many thousands more to get Nick Clegg to ensure a fairer future by prioritising the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Sign the action now and tell all your friends!

Why not work for UNICEF? A work experience account

Read about how Kathryn discovered a future vocation at UNICEF.

"Yesterday I think I discovered my dream job... for a while now I have been interested in a job where you can organise events".

By Kathryn

Hello, my name is Kathryn and for the past week I have been doing a weeks Work Experience at the UNICEF office in Billericay.

When our school told us in January that we must pick somewhere to do a work experience I must admit I completely panicked. I had no idea where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to be when I was older. To make things worse the majority of my friends all had very good ideas of what their futures held for them. After a lot of thought and deliberation I settled on working in an office...and then it hit me why not work for UNICEF? It is so close to my house and I had always wanted to see how a charity worked as I didn't believe it could be as simple as just sending money in and it being sent to the people who needed it. I was not mistaken.

On my first day I was nervous but everyone was so friendly I soon felt at ease. I was given a timetable informing me what I would be doing all week, and it surprised me how many different departments there were. So I spent Monday working at the Helpdesk, inputting details and then printing off letters for people. I also learnt about all the different websites that UNICEF have, and was interested to discover the Tagd website, especially for younger people.

I woke up on Tuesday morning and found myself tired, from not being used to working a 9-5 day, but still eager to work. I spent the day with Internal Services, and again everyone was really friendly and welcoming. I logged the Schools participating in Day For Change, and when I return to school in September will mention it to the Sixth Form Committee and see if they are interested. I also had to cut up ten banners to be sent off with a packet for a run, and sadly using a pair of scissors is not my strong point, but I managed and they came out fine.

A visit to Head House in London was in store for Wednesday and I was looking forward to seeing the other office. I had three meetings and learnt a lot about the different campaigns, the Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA) and alternate ways of fundraising. After eating our lunch on the balcony, in the sunshine, it was time to return to Billericay. After a delay and kerfuffle at Liverpool Street we finally caught a train and arrived back in time for me to help sort the cheques in the Donations department. After putting so many letters in envelopes the day before it was a nice change to be taking letters and cheques out. The following day I was to be putting the donations onto the system. It was lovely to see how many people were willing to donate to such a good cause.

Yesterday I think I discovered my dream job. Not only at UNICEF can you sit and look at pictures of some of the celebrity ambassadors...but in the Baby Friendly Department Karen told me all about her job which involved researching the hotels and train times for all the different courses on breast feeding around the country. It sounded amazing. For a while now I have been interested in a job where you can organise events and this sounded perfect.

Now sitting here reflecting my week, I've decided it's true what our teachers told us. "After work experience you will know what career you will want to go into." Which at the time I thought unlikely, now however I am now definitely considering working for a charity once I have hopefully been to University.

So with a huge thankyou to everyone at UNICEF who have all been so lovely and welcoming to me this week I will leave my first blog at this.

Find out more information about work experience at UNICEF.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Green light for Start

Promoting and celebrating sustainable living.

As you may well know, HRH The Prince of Wales, was waving the green flag long before it was considered mainstream and is still leading the environmental agenda today. The Prince's Charities Foundation has recently set up a national initative, called Start, to help people across the UK not only live more sustainably, but also get excited about what a sustainable future may look like. Instead of playing the strict parent, and forbidding the naughty children from flying or eating meat, Start focuses on the personal and positive oppotunities that arise from living sustainably.

Speaking at the launch of Start in Manchester, February 2010, The Prince of Wales said

'Far too few talk about the potential for a sustainable future to be better and more rewarding - both for us and for Nature - than the lives we lead now. This potential needs to be communicated across the country and, indeed, across the world.'
IBM, one of Start's partners, is leading a nine day summit in September, where business leaders can come together to discuss sustainability. The summit will be taking place in the very fancy Lancaster House, alongside Start's 'Garden Party to Make a Difference'.

The Prince of Wales and UK business leaders

I, along with members of the UK Youth Parliament and IBM's young interns, have become involved in helping to plan one of these days, which focuses on young people. The 'Start Young' day will bring together over 100 young people, inspiring and connecting the future leaders of the UK and providing them with a platform to voice their ideas about a sustainable future.

The IBM Start Young day is on September 12th. Don't miss your chance to attend this great event and start a revolution! Register here by Monday 16th August.

Katie x