Monday, 22 February 2010

UNICEF HQ through the eyes of an Article 12 Advisor

I’m Evie and recently was appointed an Article 12 Advisor to UNICEF UK’s Child Friendly Communities initiative. Along with 5 other people from Britain, I will be working with UNICEF in 2010 to implement the initiative among British towns and promote a ‘child-friendly’ approach in all communities. Recently, I went to New York City with my family and was lucky enough to visit the headquarters of UNICEF on the last day of my visit.

I spent most of my visit with Cristina Gallegos, who runs the UNICEF Voices of Youth website, and she showed me around the building. The first thing that struck me was the size of the building and the amount of people who worked there – it’s incredible how many people work there, and how much all of these people genuinely care about children is a really positive thing to remember.

The Voices of Youth website is a great forum for young people to discuss issues that relate to them and that they care about – these range from AIDS awareness and the Junior 8 summit to children’s rights and media coverage, along with hundreds of other topics. All the conversations are logged and recorded, as a way of integrating young people’s views into projects. For example, a document was published called A World Fit for Us, which used stories and comments from the VOY forums to explore the impact of the UN Special Session on Children in 2002. The VOY site also carries news items and themes to inform and initiate discussions among the thousands of young people who use it.

I really enjoyed my visit, and extend my sincerest thanks to Cristina Gallegos for showing me around and to Matthew King for helping us to organize the visit. I’d love to return in the future!

Evie xo

Follow the Article 12 Advisors and Child Friendly Communities on Facebook.

Friday, 19 February 2010

PHOTOsynthesis: US Climate Change Legislation, One Picture at a Time

The main picture for the campaign. It does make me look a bit like God, cradling the world in my hand... perhaps a bit arrogant!

PHOTOsynthesis is a campaign I’ve made with a friend from the US delegation to the Children’s Climate Forum, Becca. In the US, a bill that will reduce America’s emissions is trying to make its way through Congress. The US is one of the biggest emitters in the world, so urgent action is required to reduce its impact on the environment.

The idea of the PHOTOsynthesis campaign is to unite people around the world in expressing their wish for a strong climate bill in the US this year. There is a very real danger that it won’t even be debated in the Senate this year, let alone be passed as a strong first step on the road to decarbonisation.

All too often, countries act in response to climate change in terms of their own national interests. It is the aim of this campaign to give people the world over a voice in the US political system, so that we can perhaps remind one US senator that his or her vote is about more than just their citizens, but that this bill has far-reaching consequences for children and communities around the world.

At the moment, the campaign is based upon facebook (, which gives us a broad reach and should allow us to access large numbers of people across the world. The name ‘PHOTOsynthesis’ comes from the idea of bringing people together and using their photos as a more meaningful and emotive petition which we can then use in the US to lobby senators and decision-makers. On facebook, therefore, we are collecting all the ‘profile pictures’ of all the members of our group. The photos needn’t be climate-specific – they are just intended to give each and every signatory of our petition a unique and individual mark upon the campaign. They will then be collated into a (hopefully!) massive ‘photo petition’, a collage or a video which we can then spread around the world and send to loads of senators in the US.

File:Capitol Building Full View.jpg

Taking the fight to the US Senate

So the first stage is to gather as many members as possible – so join up and get loads of your friends to join too! Once we’ve shown that we’re serious with a large number of members, we will then (as we are already beginning to do) raise the profile of the group, and try to attract as much attention as possible on the campaign. We are also working on bringing it off facebook and giving it a dedicated web page - so look out for more news of it on Tagd! Once we have a date for a Senate debate, we’ll then mobilise our friends in the US to push it to their senators and their contacts to try to remind America that climate change is a global phenomenon, and therefore they have a responsibility to the global community to limit their impact upon it!

Thanks for reading and JOIN UP AND INVITE!!!


Sunday, 14 February 2010

DECC Youth Panel

One of the discussions with Ed Miliband at the DECC Youth Panel pilot

On Tuesday 9th February, I was fortunate enough to be able to take part in something which young people around the UK had been looking forward to for some time. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has finally agreed to set up a ‘Youth Advisory Panel’, and, as one of the ‘Copenhagen 4’, I was given the opportunity to take part in a pilot session for this Panel.

Youth involvement in the climate issue is important for two reasons. Firstly, it is the young people around the world who are being hit hardest by climate change already – when drought decimates a family’s crop, it is the children who are forced to work the land harder; when rivers run dry it is young women and girls who are forced to walk ever further in search of water, and when disaster strikes the child victims are all too numerous.

Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, the decisions taken now will affect the world which we, as young people, inherit. DECC is launching a ‘Roadmap to 2050’ report this Spring, which sets out how the UK is going to achieve its 80% reduction in emissions by mid-century. Therefore they were keen to hear what we thought about how the UK should use its energy by mid-century.

At the meeting, we had a brief introduction about DECC’s plans, and then got into small groups to discuss what we wanted the world of 2050 to look like. There were about 15 young people between the ages of 16-25 from loads of different organisations, and it was great getting to know them all – it’s amazing just how many different groups are getting involved with youth climate activism! The best part of the day was when Ed Miliband walked in and we got to have a question and answer session with him: getting to miss a day of school for the meeting was fantastic, but meeting Ed was even better!

Ed with some even younger climate activists! (Image courtesy of DECC)

He was really friendly and open, and it was great to have his support: I think his presence was testament to his and his department’s commitment to the idea of having our input on DECC policy. There was, of course, a concern about the stability of the future of this Youth Panel, given the looming General Election. Who knows who will be sitting in Ed’s chair in a few months’ time, and who knows what they’ll think of our involvement? We’ll just have to wait and see…

We are now feeding back to them about the process and how we think it went. They seem very keen to continue the Panel and to make it as large a success as possible, which is really great news for all young people in the UK and around the world.

Keep reading this blog for updates on what happens next with the Youth Advisory Panel and for more about what the 'Copenhagen 4' are doing...