Monday, 7 December 2009

Cloud nine: On track

The team travelling home from the Forum, but only beginning their new journeys as Climate Ambassadors.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The children’s Climate Forum has been an apex of passion, commitment and inspiration. Sitting here on the train from Copenhagen to Cologne I feel so enormously privileged. Despite my tiredness I feel high on the euphoria of being part of something so fantastic that has given the world’s children an opportunity to voice their concerns about an issue that all too often jeopardises our basic rights. To hear my newfound friends at the Forum saying, ‘we can’t go to school when the rain is very heavy', has further motivated me and has exemplified how climate change induced disasters deny our fellow citizens the right to education, health and happiness. It has been reassuring to know that I am not alone in my quest to 'right' these wrongs and together, as one, we can be a tide of change, with today being the day of the wave march in London.

Some of the delegates at the Forum after a brilliant week of working together.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The last two days of the Forum have been greater than ever with yet more fantastic workshops, where I created my very own silicon solar panel! And even used it to power a cutting edge cardboard buggy. Understanding such technology will play a key role in the Primary School workshops I will continue to run. Within my political and advocacy group the incredible opportunity of hosting a question and answer session with both the Chinese and Moldavian negotiators arose, for which I was elected co-chairperson. Unfortunately, the Chinese pulled out at the last minute and we were left with a redundant script and pre-prepared questions, compounded by the fact that the Moldivian negotiator was over twenty minutes late. Improvisation was the order to the day and in the true spirit of the Forum we rose up in the face of adversity and unanimously gained a greater understanding of how the negotiations will run at COP 15.

Cressie and others listen intently to the negotiator from the Maldives, as he discusses the reality of sealing a deal at the UN Climate Summit.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The closing ceremony was as marvellous as the rest of the forum with our song ‘ It’s my world’ and the wondrous Alien Beat Club and the climax of handing over our manifesto to the Chair of the COP 15 negotiations. The highlight of the forum for me was when I was asked to attend the press conference, after the closing ceremony. I was nervous but determined to do justice to so many articulate participants and to communicate how Climate Change is as much of a moral issue as an ecological one.

Climate Ambassadors hand over a copy of the declaration to Connie Hedegaard, President of the COP15, at the closing ceremony of the Children's Climate Forum. UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The closing party was a great opportunity to let our hair down and for me learn to dance the American way- more lessons are definitely required though! Regardless of language, everyone can communicate through dance and I strongly advocate the world leaders try it!

A delegate from Kirabati shows off some spectacular dance moves at the party!
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

On the last day we were also given our buddy Country, for which ours was Vietnam, a country that has been hard hit by global warming. I am determined to capitalise on such international links to launch an education programme and my, ‘Don’t Bake the Planet’ Campaign.

The Vietnamese and British Climate Ambassadors discuss how they can work together going into the future.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

Finally, our trip to Tivoli gardens was an array of festivity as fairy lights danced in the trees, making the skyline a wonder wall of colour and creating a truly magical experience. It was all FAB; my only hope is that COP15 shall be equally fabulous with a fair, ambitious and binding deal being reached.

The British and American Climate Ambassadors enjoy an incredibly Christmassy trip to Tivoli Gardens on their last day in Copenhagen.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

This is but the beginning…


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Cold feet, warm hearts

Workshop ideas at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase
On Tuesday, we returned to our host school and went on a field trip to the Experimentarium - Copenhagen's interactive science museum. It was a really fun break from all the recent hard work, and the local students were really welcoming and enthusiastic.

After lunch, we returned to the town hall and presented our mitigation groups in a market stall format, which was so much more effective than the presentations that the adaptation groups carried out yesterday. The facilitators have been really responsive to our feedback, including issues surrounding food and the length of the plenary sessions. All the ambassadors shared what they had learned and discussed in the main hall, whilst I was given the difficult (yet fulfilling) task of explaining the Cap and Trade system. Some of the ideas that came out of the discussion included; a community bike scheme for African school children and a cultural exchange between developed and developing countries, where schools can transfer skills and resources for climate change projects.

The day ended on a real high note with a tour of the city. It was a really beautiful way to spend the evening, after which Cressie was interviewed for a UNICEF Education 4 Development video. We have been bombarded with media opportunities during and after the forum, and I am just off to record an interview for Radio 5's breakfast show for tomorrow.

Planting trees at a field trip at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum 2009 in Copenhagen.UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

Wednesday morning was spent in the freezing cold forest, where we did tree planting and pancake making over a camp fire. Whilst Luke couldn't feel his feet by the end of the morning, I accidently set my shoes alight, and lots of pancakes landed either on the ground or on somebody's lap, it was great to get some fresh air and contribute to Denmark's huge reforestation scheme - they hope to increase tree cover by 25% in the next 50 years.

Climate Ambassadors at a field trip at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum 2009 in Copenhagen.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The rest of the afternoon was packed with Climate Ambassador Programme skills training, where I took part in the Solar Power workshop, where we made our own solar panels that eventually powered a radio, and the Communication Advocacy workshop, where we focused on lobbying.

The COP message group also presented their ideas to us. They hope to write a declaration, a booklet and create a video and power point. Eight climate ambassadors from developing countries have also been selected to represent the world's children at the UN Conference, which shows what amazing progress we have made in terms of children's rights.

Climate Ambassadors at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum 2009 in Copenhagen.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

Finally, we got into our interest groups again and my group - the Climate Ambassador Programme group - made real progress, forming a detailed action plan on producing certain outputs from the forum. These include, collating a contact list of all the delegates, organising an international day of youth climate action and developing a list of community action ideas.

As you can tell, we have all been rather busy but are having amazing times. We cannot believe we only have two days left of the forum - the experience has certainly exceeded all my expectations.

Katie x

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The climate, the Countess and the cook

Climate Ambassadors at the Forum energise themselves for a plenary session in the Copenhagen City Hall.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

It has only been three days since the CCF opened and the UK delegation have already given talks in schools, made pizza, rehearsed our climate change song, taken part in countless workshops and even met the Countess of Denmark!!!

On Sunday we split up into our Adaptation workshops. For me this has been one of the biggest highlights of the forum so far. The workshop I took part in was focussed on Climate Justice. Climate Justice is an issue I am incredibly passionate about. I was really inspired by the fact that no-one disagreed or argued with one another. Every single delegate believed that industrialised countries should help developing countries deal with climate change in one way or another. This made me think that if only the world leaders could have acted like this a long time ago, the world wouldn’t be facing the climate change problems it is today.

All of the views and ideas from the different workshops shined through when presented to the whole Forum. I was chosen to present on Financial Climate Justice and although nerve wracking, it was an experience I will never forget. It was particularly moving how emotionally a young delegate from Hong Kong reacted to how much of a challenge all of the ideas would be to implement in her country. It made me realise that it’s not just developing countries suffering from climate change, but over developed countries like Hong Kong will also find it taxing to adapt to climate change.

Graeme speaks to the Forum about ideas for achieving financial climate justice.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

In the evening, many events took place. These included Santa Claus himself lighting the Copenhagen City Christmas Tree and Flaming Pandas (people who were in Panda suits which were on fire)! We also rehearsed our climate change song for the Closing Ceremonies, where I stood next to the Countess of Denmark and the young princes who are in line to the throne of Denmark.

Graeme meets Countess Alexandra at the climate song rehearsal
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

On Monday, we split up into our Mitigation workshop groups. This was also very inspiring, and it was interesting to hear everyone’s views in my Renewable Energy workshop. In the afternoon we went to visit the UK delegation’s host school. After a ride on the Copenhagen underground we arrived at the school where the students gave us a presentation on Danish culture and climate change in Denmark- we were put to shame when we found out that 20% of Danish electricity is produced by wind power, but only 2% of UK electricity is produced this way. We were so impressed that they gave both presentations in near perfect English! We also gave our presentation on UK culture- and they laughed at our myth about the haggis.

Students from the Danish host school with the UK Delegation
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

In the evening I learned how to make pizza dough from the Danish students, which was a lot of fun though very messy. I not only managed to cover myself in flour but I also encrusted my shoes in dough, leading everyone to think that I had in fact kneaded the dough with my feet! However, the results were delicious and we had a really great evening. We’re all now looking forward to our field trip with them to a Renewable Energy Centre tomorrow.


Sunday, 29 November 2009

Copenhagen, Baby!

The Copenhagen 4 inspect the giant ball covered in all the delegates handprints and climate statements.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The Copenhagen 4 have arrived! We’re all really tired from our first day hard at work at the Children’s Climate Forum, but our levels of enthusiasm and excitement are at an all-time high!

We arrived on Friday evening and settled into the youth hostel which is putting every one of the 45 delegations up for the duration of the Forum. We (the boys) found our first friends from another delegation in our roommates, who come from Turkey. They speak good English, which helps!

We got up for a 7.30 breakfast, which is pretty much the earliest I have woken up on a Saturday since I was in the womb. Having headed across to the City Hall (which is an AMAZING building – it looks like it has come straight out of the Middle Ages!), we got to setting up our exhibition stand about UK culture. It was really great to see all the delegations in one room together and to start to mingle. We made loads of really good friends – from Poland, Kiribati (which is pronounced Kiribas), the Maldives, New Zealand, Greenland, Hong Kong and from loads of other places too!

Katie adds her thoughts to a poster.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

We then had a plenary session in which we discussed what was going to happen during the week and had the opportunity to get to know the facilitators a bit. The opening ceremony was an awesome experience – we got to see the best of Danish carol singing and ballet dancing and heard brief speeches from some important local people. The Forum was declared ‘open’ upon the lifting of a giant ball covered in all the delegates’ handprints and their climate statements – it was quite a spectacle!

A tatste of Danish culture at the opening ceremony.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

In the afternoon we got into some more detailed discussion about climate change, COP15 and our role in the climate debate. It is a truly quite profound experience to sit in the midst of 160 young people who, with their widely varying cultures, backgrounds, experiences and thoughts about climate change, have nevertheless congregated with a single-minded aim: to get something done about it. Striking also was the realisation that we in Britain still see climate change as a threat to our futures – having heard a snapshot of others’ experiences of climate change, it is clear that for many of the people we are with, it is a very real and present threat to their communities’ ways of life.

The delegates get to work.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

So having found out a bit more about what the next week holds for us and having made some great new friends, we are really looking forward to having a fantastic Forum. So to sum up, in the words of our Turkish roommates, today was ‘tiring but funky’.

Luke x

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Meeting your local MP

I recently met with my local MP, Peter Luff, after arranging to meet him at his weekly surgery. We discussed my involvement with UNICEF, my local volunteering activities, but also the Conservative policies and his own personal opinions surrounding climate change.

With the General Election fast approaching, it was really valuable to get an insight into the Conservative’s action plan when it comes to the environmental agenda. Their priorities seem to be:
  • The development of ‘smart grid’ and ‘smart meter’ technology
  • Subsidising the insulation of homes
  • Encouraging the micro-generation of electricity
  • Expanding offshore wind and marine power

Worcestershire, my home county, is relatively forward-looking when it comes to sustainability, achieving the Beacon Award for tackling climate change in 2008-2009. Whilst Peter and I didn’t see eye to eye on some issues, such as wind turbines and nuclear power, it was great that he gave me some of his time – especially given that I am not even of voting age yet!

Architects from Worcestershire County Council working with young people at a design workshop, with the aim of building an eco-community centre in our local area.

In many ways, I felt that Peter did not quite grasp the extent of youth activism on climate change in my local area. This is why it is essential for young people to contact their local MP’s and get their voices heard on such issues. By showing local leaders that we support ambitious climate policies and pledges and reminding them that we will be the ones voting and facing the consequences of climate change, they will soon start to take notice! So here are a few of my top tips for contacting and meeting your local MP:

  1. Have a look at the website ‘They Work For You’ to find out who your local MP is, what they have voted on recently and their main topics of interest.

  2. All MP’s have a personal website where you can find contact details – write them a letter or an email, or even ring them up and see if you can arrange a meeting. They might take a while to respond, but be patient!

  3. Once you’ve got a date, do some research. Have a look at some issues they have campaigned about recently and think about how it’s relevant to you. They will be pleasantly surprised by your initiative and will certainly be more responsive in the discussion.

  4. Relax, act confident and smile! There is no need to be nervous – they are representing you and will appreciate what you have to say.

  5. Thank them for their time, even if the discussion wasn’t that positive.

I hope to get in touch with Peter once I return from Copenhagen, and discuss the outcomes of the Children’s Climate Change Forum and the UN Conference, and what it means for our local area. I hope you feel inspired to take similar action with your local MP and get a positive experience out of it!

Katie x

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Interviewing John Swinney MSP about Climate Change and Young People

I recently travelled to Edinburgh on behalf of UNICEF to interview John Swinney, (The Minister for Finance and Sustainable Growth in the Scottish Government.) The interview took place at the government building St Andrews House; it was a really interesting day. I asked Mr Swinney questions like “How should we deal with Climate Change when we are in a recession, what he thought teenagers can do to make a difference on the subject of Climate Change and how much funding Scotland is contributing to tackle Climate Change?” I had an amazing time! You can see parts of the interview on YouTube by following this link

After my interview with the Cabinet Minister I was interviewed by BBC Radio Scotland about young people and their views on how their climate is changing. I was also interviewed by Gavin Walker of the BBC for the news time program “Reporting Scotland” and this will be broadcast in Mid-December.

It was an amazing day and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I think young people’s views were made clear quite well and I felt like was being treated as an equal to the big scary adults and politicians who all had their own views on Climate Change as well.

Thanks UNICEF and Aileen Easton at the Scottish Government for making this event go ahead.


Sunday, 15 November 2009

Copenhagen 4: Letter to Gordon Brown and Final Prep. Weekend

Hi Everyone!

Sorry it's been a while since our last blog, but it's good because we've now got a lot to update you on!

Last weekend (6-8 Nov.) the four of us travelled down to London for what was our final meeting in preparation for the Children's Climate Forum. It was a really fun weekend, and once again we left feeling inspired by each other's enthusiasm.

Having arrived at our hotel on Friday night, we got cracking early on Saturday with some public speaking training, which was a really amazing experience. Jennifer, the expert who was training us, was fantastic, and got us talking about all kinds of crazy things off the top of our heads. We each learnt a lot about ourselves and how we come across to an audience, and picked up some great tips as to how to improve our speaking, which will be really helpful at the CCF.

In the afternoon we talked more about the Forum itself and what we would be doing there, and discussed the presentation that we are to give to our host Danish school (you can see the presentation here, even as we are making it - we're not quite there yet, but we think it's looking really cool already!). By the evening, although we were completely worn out by the day's activities, we had a lovely pizza dinner and went to watch Up! (definitely worth a watch) in 3-D in the West End, which was really good, albeit in quite a sad and scary way! Then Luke kindly tried to give us a really fascinating explanation as to how the 3-D glasses worked and how they could be used to demonstrate quantum mechanical effects, but by that time we were too tired to care and instead politely pretended we were listening.

In the morning we finished off a few more things, such as our choices for the workshops we would be doing in Copenhagen. We had to resort to pulling names out of a hat at least twice, and it turns out that the hats love Graeme! We ended up (after MUCH deliberation) being very happy with our choices, and it's great to know what we'll be doing while we are there. There was a bit of rush at the end to get our exhibition stand created - this is where we'll be making a display about Britain for the other delegations to look at on the first day of the Forum. We ended up not quite getting it finished, but luckily the wonderful UNICEF staff were (all too) keen to help finish the painting and sticking for us!

We also, finally, got our letter to Gordon Brown finished, signed and sent off! Wooo! Basically we are thanking him for agreeing to attend COP15, telling him about who we are, what the CCF is, and what we are doing prior to it. We also ask to see if he will meet with us so that we can hand over the Declaration of Young People's views after the Forum to him personally, which would be an awesome opportunity for us to tell him and the UK public about what we have been doing. You can see the final letter here. We think it's a great summary of everything we have been doing and our most important views about climate change. Let's hope he agrees to meet us! You can see the letter below:Well I think that's about it! We are so insanely excited about Copenhagen - in two weeks' time we'll be there! Make sure you keep reading this blog - we'll be updating it regularly with all the exciting things we're doing!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Young Commonwealth Climate Change Summit

‘Tackling Climate Change: A commonwealth agenda for young people’

Foreign Office Minister Baroness Kinnock speaking at the Young Commonwealth Climate Change Summit in London, 28 October 2009.

Here’s a quick reminder of just a few of the member states of the Commonwealth:

  • South Africa

  • Maldives

  • Zambia

  • Bangladesh

Young people from these countries, amongst many others, are already feeling the effects of climate change. Representatives were invited to attend the Summit to share their stories and to develop a Youth Statement and Recommendations for Action to influence Commonwealth policies.

UNICEF were asked to run a session about the impact of climate change on children’s rights, and I was lucky enough to join Jazmin, a UNICEF youth officer, at the Commonwealth Secretariat for the morning workshop.

Meeting young people from all over the world was a great experience, and a good insight into how the Children’s Climate Change Forum will be. We heard how some countries are already suffering from increased droughts, flooding and food shortages and how young people were trying to address these challenges, which I found both frightening and inspiring.

Hopefully, by making them aware of the relationship between climate change and children’s rights, they will feel empowered to fight for those who are unable to speak out. I wish them all the luck with the challenges they face back home and hope that their statement will add to young people’s impact at the UN Climate Change Conference.

Katie x

Friday, 30 October 2009

350 Hand's Up!

On October 24th, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in history. Over 5200 events took part in the 350 campaign, calling for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.

My 350 Hand's Up! event, held in Worcester town centre.

People from around the world were asked to organise an action incorporating the number 350 at an iconic place in their community, and then upload a photo on the website. By raising awareness of the significance of the number 350, which refers to the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide we can have in our atmosphere, we can hold our decision-makers accountable to producing a treaty at Copenhagen that is strong, equitable and grounded in the latest science.

I was inspired to join this campaign and organise my own event for the 350 International Day of Action. I came up with the idea of collecting 350 messages from my local community, asking them why they care about climate change and called the project Hand’s Up!

I collected messages from my local rugby team, the Bishop of Worcester, the fire service, children as young as 3 and local MP’s. Peter Luff MP said, “I am delighted to help Katie with her excellent initiative. There is no more pressing issue facing the planet than climate change and I really hope what Katie is doing will draw even more attention to it ahead of the vital summit of world leaders in Copenhagen in December.”

Worcester Warriors, my local rubgy team, invited me to have a photo taken with a couple of their star players at the stadium before a match. They made me feel very short!

I received great support from a number of local organisations and individuals, including Transition Worcester, Worcestershire County Council’s Switch It Off campaign and the local Green Party. It just proves that climate change needn’t be something to be scared or angry about as it can bring local communities together to achieve amazing things!

Katie x

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Meeting with David Kidney, Parliamentary under- secretary

Meeting with David Kidney, Parliamentary under-secretary of state for DECC on the 26th October, was insightful and informative, as well as a great opportunity to take a sneaky peak at where all our government ministers hang out in Portcullis House. It was amazing to see so many people’s faces lit with the phosphorescence of politics and to feel, for a short time, part of the system that dictates so much of our lives.

The meeting was surprisingly informal, we all really liked David’s positive attitude about a ‘greener, brighter future’ with lots more jobs- a phrase he was clearly fond of. The meeting opened with an affirmative handshake. Katie, Luke, Graeme and myself then all gave a short synopsis of what we have been doing in our local areas, before we got down to asking some probing questions, including:

· What is the UK government hoping to get out of Copenhagen? A FAB deal that is fair, ambitious and binding – we thought this was fabulous.
· What are the barriers to action being taken on climate change? David was concerned that copyrights and patents would restrict technology being available to developing countries and there would be a degree of reluctance from developing countries also.
· Do you see the recession as an opportunity or a hindrance to tackling climate change? Building a sustainable future will create new jobs and work opportunities, so would be beneficial.

Fortunately, David didn’t over indulge in the usual political trick of pretending we asked a different question and answering that! We hope to meet with him or Ed Miliband again after the forum. And of course, handing over the manifesto from the Children’s climate forum to Gordon Brown would be the icing on our ‘don’t bake the planet’ campaign.

Fingers crossed!

Cressie M-T

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Tagd gets blogging for Climate Change Blog Action Day

Today is Climate Change Blog Action Day, when thousands of bloggers around the world post their thoughts on climate change. The aim is to spark discussion on this pressing global issue.

Apparently, it will be one of the “largest social change events on the web”. Even Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s at it.

Never one to miss out on a party, Tagd is also doing a blog for the Climate Change Blog Action Day (you’re reading it right now!). Climate change is one of UNICEF’s central campaigns, after all.

So we thought we’d use this opportunity to fill you in on the climate change campaign activities Tagd is involved with.

As you might have gathered from the posts below, Tagd are sending four young people to Copenhagen to represent the UK in the Children’s Climate Change Forum in December, ahead of the very important United Nations Climate Change Conference, where world leaders will meet to formulate a global agreement on climate change.

The ‘Copenhagen 4’, Cressie, Graeme, Katie and Luke (pictured above), won the chance to attend the forum on behalf of young people in the UK after entering UNICEF’s Big Climate Callout competition. Stay tuned for more enlightening posts from our foursome on their preparations for the trip and the forum itself over the coming days and weeks. You can also keep up to date with UNICEF’s work leading up to the conference by registering with Tagd.

Tagd is also promoting loads of ways you can get directly involved in the climate change campaign. You can email your MP, asking him to contact Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to demand that he takes decisive action at the Copenhagen conference. Or, you can join us at the Wave march, the UK’s biggest ever protest in support of action on climate change, in London on Saturday 5 December. If you can’t make it, why not paint your hands blue and send us your photos, which we’ll bring to the march.

And if you’re feeling particularly inspired, Tagd has details on how you can organise a ‘Wave Day’ with your school, youth group or your friends. We’ve produced a downloadable climate change resource pack, filled with tips and ideas on how you can take action on climate change.

So there you have it. But now we’ve done our bit and got you up to speed on Tagd’s climate campaign work, why not get blogging yourself? If you’re passionate about this issue, you couldn’t choose a better day to start. And even if you don’t have a blog, you can do a post on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

For more inspiration, check out our tips on writing an article and getting creative.

Monday, 12 October 2009

7 Weeks To Copenhagen

The Copenhagen 4's second preparation weekend at the UNICEF offices, London

The Copenhagen 4 getting involved with UNICEF's call to action for the Wave.

After a long week at school, we all arrived in London pretty tired. But after a good night’s sleep and some nice toast – according to Luke and Cressie – we were raring to get on with our jam-packed weekend’s worth of work.

We kicked off Saturday with some exciting, if still slightly vague news about the Forum, including where we will be staying in Copenhagen and details about the workshops. Finding out that we will be working from 8am to 9pm every day, excluding socialising time, was a bit of an eye-opener! It was also great to have a chat with a couple of the 2009 J8 team about their experience and the sort of things we can expect to happen at the Forum.

We were really lucky to receive media training and blogging and videoing tips from the UNICEF staff. Whilst Cressie had a tendency to laugh uncontrollably when in front of the camera – to the amusement of the rest of the team - I think we will be experts at expressing our key messages in the future. Exhausted and in need of food, we headed over to South Bank for a lovely meal and walked along the river, like true tourists!

On Sunday we had the opportunity to really work together as a team, and I can now safely say that the Copenhagen 4 is ready to face all the challenges that the world can throw at us! Firstly, we prepared for our meeting with David Kidney, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and thought about what we’d like to get out of the discussion. We are also planning to write a letter to Gordon Brown, praising him for committing to go to Copenhagen, whilst also seeing whether he would like to meet with us in the future.

The final thing to do was to start thinking about what we could do for the UK presentation that we will present to our Copenhagen partner school at the Forum. All plans are under wraps, but all I’ll say is that it includes a sheep (whatever Luke says!), dodgy accents and certain chaos!

Watch this space.

Katie x

Friday, 25 September 2009

Hello from the Copenhagen 4's Cressie

Cressie, 15, from near Gloucester, is one of the four winners of UNICEF's Big Climate Callout competition, selected to represent the UK at the Copenhagen Children's Climate Forum in December.

The first prep meeting we had in August was a great success. During the weekend we drew up targets and action points as well as assigning areas of responsibility. Since then I have been busy organising presentations in local primary and secondary schools, explaining how climate change is a children’s rights issue and why UNICEF is so involved.

Hopefully I will run a ‘green day’ at my school, where we will dress up in green to help raise awareness of Copenhagen and being environmentally friendly in general.

As I am passionate about trying to give being ‘green’ a modern, chic appeal, so as to get more people involved and engaged, I have been busy designing a t-shirt with some friends. At the moment I am spending lots of time working on my portfolio and doing comparative research for the t- shirt - but hopefully a prototype will be made soon!

As usual I am looking for articles and reading about climate change in the press to ensure I am up to speed with all that is going on in the run up to Copenhagen. As the Children’s Climate Forum looms ever closer, I continue to become more excited and equally determined to make it worthwhile, helping raise awareness in both my local area and nationally.

Hello from the Copenhagen 4's Luke

Luke, 17, from Newcastle, is one of the four winners of UNICEF's Big Climate Callout competition, selected to represent the UK at the Copenhagen Children's Climate Forum in December.

Hi Everyone! As this is my first ever blog post, this is a pretty weird experience for me. Then again, the whole of the Copenhagen prep is a pretty steep learning curve - and I think the purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who's interested in what we've been doing so far.

After our first meeting in London (which was great fun and told us a lot more about what we'll be doing) I've been put in charge of the campaigns that we are running ourselves.

The main one is to get Gordon Brown to attend the Copenhagen conference. We think this is really important as it will show the world that the UK prioritises combating climate change and will help the push towards a strong, fair deal at Copenhagen in December (anyway, we're going, so why on Earth can't he?!)

If you'd like to sign up to this petition, you can do so here. We're also trying to get a petition on the Number 10 website, which we'll try to advertise as well. The hope is to get a large number of people behind us, so that when we send a letter to the PM, or if we get to meet with a minister, we can say that we have LOADS of young people in support of our petition, which will be alot more impressive!

I'm starting to get really excited about going to Copenhagen now - it's going to be such an awesome experience, meeting people from around the globe with so very different climate change experiences to ours. The whole thing has got me a lot more enthused about climate-related activities and has spurred me on to get stuck in again!

Well thanks for reading this, and I hope we'll be able to let you know about everything we're doing in the future, and about how you can get involved in some nice, tame, climate activism!

Hello from the Copenhagen 4's Katie

Katie Haywood, 17, from Worcester, is one of the four winners of UNICEF's Big Climate Callout competition, selected to represent the UK at the Copenhagen Children's Climate Forum in December.

The past few weeks have been pretty frantic for me, especially since I got back to school and started studying for my AS Levels. There are so many fantastic campaigns leading up to Copenhagen that I couldn’t resist getting involved!

Firstly, I have been recruiting for Power Shift, an environmental conference for young people, which is being held in London in October. Secondly, I have been busy organising my own 350 event, called Hand’s Up! The idea is to collect 350 hand prints from individuals and organisations around my local community, which I am going to display in the city centre on 24 October, the global Day of Action.

My role within the Copenhagen team is to facilitate our involvement in such campaigns, and raise awareness of them among other young people. My county council have also helped me arrange a meeting with local ecoschools committees, where we will discuss messages that I can take to the Children’s Climate Forum.

The first preparation weekend at the UNICEF head office was great fun, and it was really nice to spend time with the rest of the team. We’ve already got really exciting plans for our work leading up to Copenhagen, including launching a campaign to get Gordon Brown to go the Conference.

I still can’t quite believe what an amazing opportunity we have been given. It just shows that the world is starting to take young people seriously, so make sure you are shouting about what really matters to you!

Hello from the Copenhagen 4's Graeme

Graeme, 14, from Glasgow, is one of the four winners of UNICEF's Big Climate Callout competition, selected to represent the UK at the Copenhagen Children's Climate Forum in December.

Hello, my Name is Graeme McGhee I am 14 years old and I come from the city of Glasgow in Bonnie Scotland. I am always up for a laugh, love playing badminton and love watching the comedy panel show Mock the Week XD.

I am one of the four young people who will be representing the views of young people at the Children's Climate Change Forum in Copenhagen this December. I would like to think that I know a fair amount about climate change as well as politics. Climate change is a serious issue that we have to act upon now and, as a generation, we must work together to prevent this problem in the future too.

I have already set up a few events and discussions locally and citywide that have sparked interest on this issue throughout Scotland as well. At the start of October I will hopefully be interviewing the Scottish Minister for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney) about climate change.

Although we are only young citizens we can still make an impact on the world around us and influence decision-making all over the world.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Meeting Gordon Brown and Eating Gelati with the Firemen of Rome!

My J8 Summit
By Sara Saleh, 16

I can’t believe how busy we’ve been since returning from the J8 Summit in Rome that this latest blog is now coming to you from London! We’ve all been so tired since coming back mostly because of all the fun we had meeting all the other Junior 8 participants from around the world. I guess we should have gone to bed early in Rome – but what would be the fun in that?

Our time in Rome was all about drafting and finalising our declarations – a set of points that we would present to the world’s leaders at the end of our week. We started each day at 8.45am in the planning room, hashing out the most important issues that we, as a group, thought our leaders would need to act upon.

UNICEF/Rome2009/Simone Caleo

First up was Climate change and our main concerns were that the Kyoto protocols were not being upheld. It’s important that governments find a way to cut their greenhouse gas emissions so one of the first points we put into our official declaration was -

  • Government funding should be made available for green technologies in both developed and developing countries;
  • G8 leaders should address the issue of black carbon (black soot), which accounts for approximately 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and is emitted through biomass cooking stoves mainly in developing nations.

At the official opening ceremony of the J8 conference at the beginning of the week, Mellika, Harry, Birzi and myself had the chance to meet the Italian Prime Minister at his official office in the centre of Rome - The Presidenza del Consiglio! It was nice to know that many adults had faith in us and were supporting us and made us really proud to be part of the J8 team.

G8Website/ANSA Photo: Maurizzio Brambatti

UNICEF/Rome2009/Simone Caleo

Next on our agenda was poverty and development with a particular focus on Africa which has some of the world’s poorest countries. One of the points that came out of our brainstorms was the issue of debt in the developing nations.

We felt really strongly, that if Africa is going to succeed in improving the basic health, water, sanitation and education in its countries, then national debt must be cancelled and more aid money should be pledged.

UNICEF/Rome2009/Simone Caleo

The final day of drafting our declaration was definitely the busiest and I was in the main drafting group! A major responsibility which meant that I had hardly any time to take any breaks (while the others were off playing table tennis!) But I didn’t mind, because drafting up the declaration was the most important part of J8 and we had to make sure our points were perfect for the world leaders the next day!

UNICEF/Rome2009/Simone Caleo

The 14 delegates who were set to meet the world’s most powerful leaders included our very own Mellika who would be meeting Gordon Brown in L’aquila where the main G8 Summit was taking place! We were all really excited for her and woke up really early to watch her get more and more nervous and excited! After telling her she’d ‘done us proud’. The rest of the J8 team – 50 of us in total headed out to the Italian Chamber of Deputies to present our declarations in Rome!

G8Website/ANSA Photo: Maurizzio Brambatti

In the afternoon, the children from the "Fondazione Tender to Nave Italia” gave us a presentation about working with children with disabilities. I was impressed with how much time they gave to the foundation and how passionate they were about helping people, something I want to do when I’m older.

The next day began with a normal schedule for the J8 delegates back at the fire-fighter’s institute where we were staying but but not for us! Harry, Birzi, Mellika and I had to travel to L'Aquila for a meeting with the Prime Minister Gordon Brown. I was so excited as I thought only Mellika had the opportunity the day before! I thought the Prime Minister was lovely man who really cared what was happening to the world both nationally and internationally. The long drive to and from l’Aquila was long and exhausting but the time we had with Mr Brown made up for it!

Later that evening we were set for a culture night from all the j8 participants. It was one of the most fun and remarkable nights we ever had and it brought all the different groups even closer.


On our penultimate day in Rome, each country had to work on a list of action-plans that we would present to children and young people in our own countries. All of our ideas were presented in front of the rest of the groups and a final action plan was written.

UNICEF/Rome2009/Simone Caleo

By the end of the day I am sure most of us were feeling optimistic about raising awareness in our own community.

Our final day in Rome had crept up on all of us so quickly and the mood at the Fire-fighter’s Institute was quite downbeat. Although it was our last day we still had our early start and schedule for the day – no rest for the J8 team! Despite another fact-packed day (and a flight to catch in the night), Team One From Many went on their last sight-seeing tour in the wonderful city of Rome.

On our return still eating ice-cream (or as the Italians call it Gelati!) we had to get our bags ready and say our final goodbyes to the wonderful friends we made from all over the world and thank the firemen for their amazing hospitality.

This was by far the best experience we have ever had and not to be forgotten for a very long time!

UNICEF/Rome2009/Simone Caleo

Friday, 17 July 2009

Work Experience with the Youth Team

Rachna Vyas, 17

It would make anyone go cross-eyed to see the level of activity going on in UNICEF’s Youth Team. From organising Scout Jamborees and short listing over a hundred entries for the climate change competition to planning student conferences to Copenhagen and creating designs for Tagd t-shirts, I saw firsthand the theory of ‘multitasking being impossible’ being disproved.

I have to say that when I arrived here on Monday, I expected to sit at a computer bored out of my mind , resorting furtively to Facebook to keep me occupied. Suffice to say that was not the case. The Youth Team found a ton of stuff for me to do, not for the sake of it, but stuff that actually contributed to what they were doing! It felt great to be taken seriously like this. And I was determined to show it.

Looking back, my main task was to judge a mammoth-sized pile of entries for the Big Climate Callout competition. It was Christmas for the opinionated side of me. That’s not to say I set out to Simon-Cowell everyone. Actually it was rather inspiring to read (and view for there were some video entries) all those passionate views on climate change. Until now I really thought that I was in the minority of youths concerned about the near-irreversible damage being done to the planet so hearing from other 14-17 year olds who are on their school environment committee, or have ideas on dealing with climate change that are actually better than what world leaders have come up with felt really reassuring. Maybe our planet’s future is in responsible hands after all.
I think it’s safe to boast that my week here has made me an expert brainstormer. I’ve lost hands to count the number of flow charts and spider-diagrams I’ve contributed to. Brainstorming ideas for the Scout Jamboree was quite fun, because this was UNICEF so I could be as creative and ridiculous as I liked (proof: ‘Pin the Penguin on the World’ with an inflatable globe; buskers; spontaneous acting; an ‘Unfair Fair’). The point is, it got me to think beyond my horizons. Which is always neat.

Finally I got to suggest concrete improvements to make to Tagd. The Youth Team knew that as a website for young people, it would make sense to get young people’s ideas on it. Enter: me J. My audit came up with no massive red flags – it’s a pretty cool website! But I did get to come up with some questions to stick around the website to flare up some debates – it’s always fun setting the essay-type questions for a change! And as a reward, I get a by-line to this blog and also make a cameo in the week's newsletter!

A jam-packed week, it’s gone by so fast it’s left skid marks! I did a lot, learnt a lot (the J8 Summit sounds totally cool) and had a blast. So thank you.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Our First Blog from the Junior 8 Summit in Rome!

Saturday 4th July
by Mellika Myers

Not really believing we were in Rome after coming back from Barbados a few days ago, we woke up at 7 o clock expecting the food to be amazing, I soon found out that the Italians are not so famous for their breakfast! Hungry is never a good way to start my day as it usually makes me cranky but trust me, it didn't last long once we found out what we would be doing!

Our Team One From Many Outside the Colosseum
Rome UNICEF UK/Rome2009/Alice Bottini-Hall

We were all really excited because we were organising a media stunt at the famous Colosseum in the centre of the city. For those of you reading who don’t know what this is, a media ‘stunt’ is supposed to attract the public’s attention as well as all the local newspapers and television crew about the Junior 8 summit. Choosing a venue as busy as the ancient Colosseum was bound to work...wasn't it?

Birzi and I discussing our ideas for the giant ear!
UNICEF UK/Rome2009/Alice Bottini-Hall

We travelled to the Colosseum by metro, which was very different from London Underground – it’s so NOISY! When we finally arrived – the view was amazing – it was like being on the set of the film Gladiator – I really wish I was a gladiator myself! It was soon time to reveal our stunt….and I have to say, it was really cool! An artist made a giant papier m√Ęche ear and all the groups from different countries had to write a message to the world’s leaders, which we then put inside the ear.

All the J8 delegates shouting "Listen to us!"
UNICEF UK/Rome2009/Alice Bottini-Hall

Luckily, our stunt seemed to work as loads of press from all over the world were there and some of the J8 teams were interviewed by various journalists. We got loads of attention, not only from the tourists and Roman people who were all staring at us but from radio stations, television crews, newspapers who kept coming over to speak to us (we even made the Chinese press!) and we were featured in La Repubblica, one of the major Italian newspapers.

A J8 delegate being interviewed by an Italian radio station
UNICEF UK/Rome2009/S.Caleo

After our busy day it was finally time for dinner and we were all hoping it would be better than our breakfast! I can definitely say it looked amazing as it was prepared by the Italian version of Gordon Ramsey, Gualtiero Marchesi. The chefs serving us called it ‘concept food’, but to be honest, I did not understand the concept because it did not fill me up, or the others! Although the food was amazing, we were all definitely still hungry and fancied another dinner…maybe some good old Pizza or Pasta!!

Sara and I were waiting ages for our dinner by the Italian chefs!
UNICEF UK/Rome2009/S.Caleo

Hope you enjoyed reading my first blog from Rome!

Mellika x