Category: Life on Land

Blog post for VoFG Arabia

Hello everyone!

I want to share with you my thoughts on climate action and the protection of life on land, a post that I wrote for Voices of Future Generations Arabia. I was thrilled to write on VoFG Arabias’ blog ‘voices’ which also features the voice of Jane Goodall (the world’s best-known female scientist!!) Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace, and the voice of Isobel Abulhoul, CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

You can read my post below or click here: Climate action and protection of life on land – the voice of Nico Roman


Thank you, Voices of Future Generations Arabia, for this brilliant opportunity. In this blog, I would like to argue in favour of empowering children’s voices and quality education – SDG 4 & SDG 17, as I did in May during a symposium with over 1000 online participants.

My name is Nico, I am 11 and go to Kings College School in Cambridge. I am a UN Child Ambassador for the SDGs, and as part of this commitment I also edit an online blog – Nico’s Natural World – with over 9000 impressions, and hundreds of followers. Please come and visit it some time.

It is time that we all stand up for our children’s rights – as reflected in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), especially Articles 24 and 29 that promise us a healthy environment and education about nature, and also Articles 12 to 13 that guarantee us a voice in decisions that concern us.

Our future, and the futures of all species on Earth, concern us! They really do!

I might be only a small child, but I know that advancing the world’s SDGs, especially SDG 13 on Climate Action and SDG 15 to Protect Life on Land, makes the difference between a terrible global nightmare, and the future we want.

Even as our whole world is locked in frightening quarantines and curfews from the global COVID-19 pandemic, we can and must still speak out for our Earth, and for future generations of all species.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are real, dangerous and urgent.

As children, we are trying very hard to be heard, locally and globally, to stop the suffering and losses from getting even worse.

Even though we cannot vote, as children we already face the consequences of terrible climate change worldwide, including new viruses emerging, and old diseases returning, with impacts on our health and on the safely of everyone we love.

And we will face far, far worse in the future.

Currently, some decision-makers are doing the exact opposite,

backing up failing aviation and oil industries, which are causing the problem!

This is horribly unfair – it is a violation of climate justice!

The CRC promises us a healthy environment and this right means that willful destruction of natural habitats, without any regard for the plants and animals, nor for all future generations… just needs to stop.

We live in a climate emergency, and it will get worse if we can’t all work together, rather than re-starting all the harmful practices, and calling it recovery!

We also live in a biodiversity emergency, with thousands of species already lost, and many more at risk of going extinct forever—unless we all help to protect nature recovery when we plan economic recovery!

We must make sure our leaders tackle the climate and biodiversity crises with the same strength and unity they have shown us with the novel coronavirus pandemic, instead of ignoring it until everything is just too late!

If we want to make a difference, we must scale up our understanding, our education and our voices!

We need new guardian laws, institutions and networks.

The world after the COVID-19 pandemic needs to take children’s fears and interests much more seriously.

I am pleading for every single leader, including everyone reading online, to help us find new ways to stop the urgent threats of climate change and biodiversity loss, just as you promised in the SDGs.

Our rights are being directly infringed by current policies, laws and decisions – locally, nationally and internationally.

Even the smallest child CAN make a BIG difference, towards a more sustainable world for us all.

Voice of Nico Roman

Nico Roman (11), UN Child Ambassador for the SDGs, Voices of Future Generations Children’s Rights Initiative; Co-Chair, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council & YR6 Student, King’s College School (Cambridge)

Watch our Eco-Seminars

Eco-Seminars in partnership with Cambridge Schools Eco-Council and the Voices of Future Generations Initiative

We organised free 60 minute Online Eco-Seminars to raise awareness of key sustainability challenges and solutions, while schools have been forced online in many countries. Children, students, families and members of the public free over Zoom from April 21 to June.

Each Online Eco-Seminar focused on a key sustainable development goal, such as Climate Action (SDG 13), Protecting and Restoring Life on Land (SDG 15) or Agriculture and Food Systems (SDG 2). Each Online Eco-Seminar included student Eco-Councillors and UN Voices of Future Generations child authors / ambassadors, together with world-class experts, provided a 25-minute introduction to a sustainability challenge, and discuss creative local and solutions.

We have recorded these eco-seminars (see below) in case you missed any of them or simply if you would like to watch them again.


ECO-SEMINAR 1: GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, THE PARIS AGREEMENT AND LOCAL SOLUTIONS – APRIL 21, 2020

Expert: Professor Christina Voigt, Ph.D., LL.M-Env (University of Oslo international environmental law expert and professor, IUCN Climate Change Specialist Group Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law Member and UNFCCC Compliance Committee Member)

Child author speaker: Jona David, founding Eco-Councillor of the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council, award-winning UNESCO VoFG Child Author of The Cosmic Climate Invention and other books, and student at Winchester College, UK

Eco-council speaker: Virginia Denmead, Cambridge Schools Eco-Councillor, Deputy Chair and Secretary, leader of St Bedes Eco-Society and student at St Bedes School, UK.

ECO-SEMINAR 2: AGRICULTURE, FOOD SYSTEMS AND CLIMATE RESILIENCE – MAY 5, 2020

Child Author speaker: Rehema Kibugi (UN Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative Child Author, Kenya)

Eco-Council speaker: Magnus Bramwell (Cambridge School’s Eco-Council Councillor and Secretary UK)

Expert: Advocate Ayman Cherkaoui (International Jurist in Climate Change Law, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact in Morocco, Lead Counsel for Climate Change at the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law)

Expert: Dr. Amy Munro-Faure (Coordinator at the Living Lab for Sustainability at the University of Cambridge)

ECO-SEMINAR 3: CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY POLICY AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES – MAY 19, 2020

Child author speaker: Jasper Chin-Moody (UN Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative Child Author, Australia)

Eco-Council speaker: Harry Auld (Cambridge School’s Eco-Council Councillor and Treasurer, UK).

Expert: Professor Laura Diaz Anadon (University of Cambridge Climate Change Policy Professor, University of Cambridge Peterhouse Bye-Fellow, C-EENG Fellow, Energy Policy Research Group Associate Researcher, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Research Associate, 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Lead Author).

Expert: MS Helene Kotter (Architect, Owner of Architecture Practice, Member of the Voice’s of Future Generations Children’s Book Series Leadership Council). In partnership with the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council.

ECO-SEMINAR 4: NATURE, BIODIVERSITY AND SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPES –  JUNE 2, 2020

Child author speaker: Adelyn Newman-Ting (Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative Child Author).

Eco-Council speaker: Nico Roman (Cambridge School’s Eco-Council Co-Chair) and Freya Lundskær-Nielsen (Eco-Council Deputy Chair).

Experts: Ms. Hawa Sydique (Research and Communications Manager at the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute).

Tara Atleo (Environmental economics researcher and indigenous sustainable development professional from the Ahousaht First Nation in BC, Canada, PhD student University of Waterloo, Laureate Canada 150 Senate Medal).

Iain Webb (Cambridge City Greenways Project Officer).

ECO-SEMINAR 5: CONSUMERISM AND WASTE – JUNE 16, 2020

Child author speaker: Andrea Wilson (Gold Award Laureate, Voices of Future Generations (VoFG) Children’s Rights Initiative, Child Author for North America of Sarah’s Journey for Tomorrow, blog post author on the Sustainable Development Goals and Child Rights).

Eco-council speaker: Luana Fernandes (Cambridge Schools Eco-Council Communications Officer, Student of Parkside School, key organiser of student climate strikes and eco-seminars).

Expert: Dr. Markus Gehring (JSD, Dr iur, MA, LLM, Law and Land Economy Lecturer; Jean Monet Chair of European Law and Sustainable Development; Centre for International Sustainable Development Law Lead Counsel for Trade, Investment & Financial Law; Hughes Hall Law Director of Studies at the University of Cambridge).

Expert: Prof. Damilola S. Olawuyi, Professor of Energy and Environmental Law


Please note: Students participated with permission and under supervision of parents/guardians, from their homes.

WIC* WON PLATINUM on the green waste emergency eco-activity!

“The Wire & Ivy Cylindrical (WIC*) Eco-Composter”

*WIC means ‘home’ or ‘settlement’ in old English

Nico’s Narrative Report: Building an Eco-Composter for the Green Waste Emergency!

With the news that Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire district councils will not be collecting our green bins for a few weeks, I felt it a very good idea to build a green waste compost bin! I completed the project Step by Step.

Research: First, I researched the different designs and best location for a compost bin/heap, and investigated what can and what cannot be composted as green waste. I decided to make one that could compost layers of teabags, plant prunings and grass cuttings (green layers). According to The Eden Project, these are fast to break down and provide important nitrogen as well as moisture. I would also include things such as cardboard egg boxes, scrunched up paper and fallen leaves (brown layer). These are slower to rot but provide vital fibre and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. It was best to compost these green and brown garden wastes in the new ‘open’ composter, so my family could still use our other closed composters for food waste like fruit and veggie peelings. Otherwise it could attract mice and other animals, and make odours.

Design: Second, I made blueprint designs for a compost bin/heap for my garden. I eventually chose a cylinder made from wire and planks.I selected the most appropriate measurements: The planks are 54 cm long planks, to be driven 4cm into the ground, for a composter height of 50 cm. The length of chicken wire is 182cm, for a diameter of 58cm. This means my composter would have a volume of 158,525 cm3. For materials, I used old chicken wire that had been patching a fence, and two recycled planks of wood. I also used some withies of ivy which we recently cleared from a brick wall, to camouflage my composter and make it look more natural. (Recyle, Reuse, Reinvent!). I also made a list of tools needed, including the staple-puncher that I use to put up eco-council posters, a small hammer, saw and nails, and a spade for digging the holes. For safety equipment, I used gloves to guard against the wire and any splinters.

Design(I), Instructions for Use (II) and Materials List (III)

Construction: With help from my father (and amusement from my kitten), I built my composter. First, I gathered up the materials, including the wooden planks that were left over from a history project, and measured them carefully. I also gathered the tools we’d need, including the stapler, hammer, nails and small saw. For safely, we worked outdoors.

Second, I collected the other materials, including the leftover chicken wire from my tortoise table roof, that had been patching a hole in the fence. We did not use any new materials, except for the staples, because we wanted this composter to be very eco-friendly. Third, for safety it was my father who used the staple gun to punch the chicken wire to the planks properly. My kitten Alphabet was very interested in the chicken wire. Fourth, my father helped me to dig the holes in the soil, then we hammered the planks into the holes, so the composter stands upright. I tested it by inserting the first clippings of green waste. Finally, I used the ivy withies from a project last week to thin the ivy off the brick wall, to weave into the wire sides of my composter. They decorate and camouflage my composter so it blends into our green garden.

Building a Composter for the Green Waste Emergency

I greatly enjoyed making my composter because it required a bit of creative thinking about where to find materials that we could use, how to securely build the composter and where to place it in the garden. It helped that we had truly excellent weather all weekend so I was working in the sunshine for nearly two whole afternoons. I also had to distract my kitten, Alphabet, and keep her entertained so that she didn’t try to muddle everything up.I totally enjoyed the project of building a composter for green waste, because I felt that we were doing our bit to address a difficult situation with the green waste not being collected. I also enjoyed researching and creating the project idea, drawing the blueprints and planning diagrams, and being outdoors with my father and my cat to build it. I even rather enjoyed learning about ‘pi’ from my brother to calculate circumference and volume. My composter looks as if it belongs to the garden and blends into the scenery. It has very simple design and structure but is actually very sturdy!

To see the other winners click here: Winners of the Green Waste Emergency

Mobilizing a Youth Movement to Tackle the Climate Crisis

Lecture at the University of Cambridge Nov,19, 2019

University of Cambridge,
Department of Land Economy

Speakers:
Nico (11 yrs) Kings College School, Co-Chair
Harry (10 yrs), St Paul’s School, Treasurer
Freya (9 yrs) Kings College School, Eco-Councillor
Luana (15 yrs) Parkside School, Comms Officer

The Cambridge Schools Eco Council was formed in February 2019, after the first UK Youth Strike 4 Climate held in Cambridge and around the world on the 15th February. We now represent over 30 primary and secondary schools in Cambridge.

Our Eco Councillors have been in the national and local press, on local radio, been invited to meetings with the City Council, met our MP, Daniel Zeichner, and taken our message about the climate
emergency to the ex-Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove.
We have held 6 school strikes in Cambridge and organised a week-long programme of vigils on Kings Parade to coincide with the global week of
climate action.

Cambridge Schools Eco Council: our declaration
The science is clear. CO2 levels are higher than they have been for nearly a million years, average global temperatures are increasing, oceans are rising and becoming more acidic, wildfires are raging, and extinction rates are nearly 1000 times higher than they should be. If we continue burning fossil fuels, building unsustainable infrastructure and degrading our environment, children all over the world will be hurt or even die. We need to change all our lives and systems immediately or face an unimaginable future of heatwaves, floods, extreme weather, forest fires, crop failures, wars over land, food and water resource – the real risk of our own extinction. It is an emergency.

We are calling all local schools, town & county councils and the government to help us save our planet, our future and the future of generations to come, by declaring a climate emergency and acting on it immediately.

I’LL BE CHAIRING FREE ONLINE ECO-SEMINARS FOR CAMBRIDGESHIRE AND THE WORLD!

Register now and spread the word

Cambridge Schools Eco-Council is organising a mini-series of free 60 minute Online Eco-Seminars to raise awareness of key sustainability challenges and solutions, while schools have been forced online in many countries. Children, students, families and members of the public can register for free over Eventbrite and participate online over Zoom, 4-5pm (UK time) each fortnight from Tuesday 21 April to Tuesday 16 June. Each Online Eco-Seminar focuses on a key sustainable development goal, such as Climate Action (SDG 13), Protecting and Restoring Life on Land (SDG 15) or Agriculture and Food Systems (SDG 2). Each Online Eco-Seminar includes student and expert speakers.

Over zoom, after a 15 mins for tech testing and interactions from 3:45pm to 4pm, student Eco-Councillors and UN Voices of Future Generations child authors / ambassadors, together with world-class experts, will provide a 25-minute introduction to a sustainability challenge, and discuss creative local and solutions. For a further 25 minutes, participants can ask questions and discuss potential solutions and ways to raise education and awareness interactively, followed by a 10-minute closing from the experts and youth speakers by 5pm.

Remember to register first!

Upcoming Seminars

Eco-Seminar 2: Agriculture, Food Systems and Climate Resilience – Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  • Child author speaker: Rehema, Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative 
  • Eco-Council speaker: Magnus, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council
  • Experts: M Ayman Cherkaoui, CISDL and Dr Amy Munro-Faure, The Living Lab

Eco-Seminar: Climate Change, Energy Policy and Sustainable Communities – Tuesday, May 19, 2020

  • Child author speaker: Jasper, Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative 
  • Eco-Council speaker: Harry, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council
  • Experts: Prof Laura Dias Anadon, University of Cambridge and M Helene Kotter, Eco-Architecture

Eco-Seminar 4: Nature, Biodiversity and Ecosystems – Tuesday, June 2, 2020

  • Child author speaker: Addy, Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative 
  • Eco-Council speaker: Nico, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council
  • Experts: Dame Fiona Reynolds and Ms Hawa Sydique, University of Cambridge

Eco-Seminar 5: Consumerism and Waste – Tuesday, June 16, 2020

  • Child author speaker: Andrea, Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative 
  • Eco-council speaker: Luana, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council
  • Experts: Ms Naomi Klein, Journalist and Dr Markus Gehring, University of Cambridge

Past Eco- Seminars

Eco-Seminar 1: Global Climate Change, the Paris Agreement and Local Solutions – Tuesday, April 21, 2020

  • Child author speaker: Jona, Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative 
  • Eco-Council speaker: Virginia, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council
  • Experts: Prof Cristina Voigt, University of Oslo and Cllr Rosy Moore, Cambridge City Council

Please note: Students participate with permission under supervision of parents/guardians from their homes.

First Eco-Activity

Spring Eco-challenge: Task 1

(Deadline: April 25)

Cambridge Schools Eco-Council

This is the beginning of our eco-adventure; we are all in this together! Now please read on… we are trying to make this eco-challenge as interesting as possible, videos to follow…. (Maybe for week 2)

Topic: Green Waste EMERGENCY

With the news that Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire district councils will not be collecting our Green bins for a few weeks, we thought it a good idea to build a compost bin/heap, or another one if you already have one. Don’t worry if you don’t have a garden, just a small bin will do.

Objectives:

Research… The different designs and best location for a compost bin/heap. What can and what cannot be composted.

How to make a compost heap: 10 top tips

Design… Draw a suitable design for a compost bin/heap for your garden. Selecting the most appropriate measurements and most suitable materials (remembering: Recycle, Reuse, Reinvent). Make a tools list. Don’t forget to use safety equipment where appropriate.

Make… With help, if possible and where necessary, make your compost heap.

Evaluate… Think about key questions like: How easy it was to find designs? Did you use the best and most eco-friendly materials? Was your idea and design good? Does it look good? Does it work? How could you improve it? Did you enjoy the project? (Remember to offer a reason as to why or why not for each thing you say).

Good luck and enjoy the chance of being outside in the fresh air and sunshine!

Save the River Cam and our Waterways

We have raised our voices internationally to ask for climate action, and as we continue protesting online (for the time being). We are also doing it locally, ‘we’ the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council are also protesting to save the River Cam and reduce climate impacts on waterways.

Currently, the river Cam is at 77% less than its long-term average flow for the last year, according to the Environment Agency. This is primarily due to over-abstraction of water from the chalk hills for domestic use. Our tap water mostly comes from the eastern chalk aquifer and we don’t have another source of water. The Cam may seem like it is completely fine and healthy but it is far from it. This is an illusion of how canalised the river is.

“The illusion is perpetuated by putting water back into the headwaters of the streams in the summer to keep those streams running because they have taken so much water out of the chalk.”

Stephen Tomkins, Chair of Cam Valley Forum
Stephen Tomkins, Chair of Cam Valley Forum

“Our rivers and streams are really important – the Cam is the reason for our city, Cambridge. Climate change, together with poorly planned growth, could devastate our water ecosystems, costing us our present and our future. We are speaking out to defend our river.”

Nico Roman, Co-chair Eco-council
Here investigating Byron’s pool along the Cam
Weir where flow of the Cam is regulated

For more information go to:

Chalk Streams in Crisis: A call for drought action now

Youth strikers to protest ‘canalised’ Cam at Friday march, Cambridge Independent

Galleries: Schools eco council hears of Cam water emergency on day of action, Cambridge Independent

We are taking the Schools’ Strike for Climate Action Online

We have suspended the schools’ strike for climate action since March due to
fears that gathering large groups of people together could help to spread COVID19. 

Alternatively we continued the strike online. 

Thank you to everyone who has participated 🙂

To learn more please check out this article by Cambridge Independent 

Greater Cambridge Local Plan – The Big Debate – Feb 18, 2020

The Big Debate was an evening of quickfire presentations from local groups and lively debate about the future of Greater Cambridge.

Presentation by Luana, Nico and Harry representatives of the Cambridge Schools’ Eco Council at the Cambridge Corn Exchange

Luana, Harry and I, are very excited to have spoken as Youth Strikers in the ‘First Conversation’ consultation on the new Greater Cambridge Local Plan, other local groups also presented and debated their ideas.

As representatives of the Cambridge Eco Council at the Great Debate, we got the voice of the Youth and Climate heard!

About the Greater Cambridge Local Plan

To know more visit Greater Cambridge Local Plan

Cambridge Youth Strike 4 Climate sent their love to Australia on February 14, 2020

On Friday 14th February 2020 Cambridge Youth left their schools and took to the streets to send love to those in Australia affected by the horrific fires and demand the adults and governments of the world do something about the crisis we face.

We dedicated our Valentine’s Day protest to Australian schoolchildren. The effects of climate change are more prominent than ever, and so many people are being affected first-hand.

We are here in support of all the school children, wildlife and everyone whose homes and lives are being lost by the ferocious fires and floods in Australia, and around the world. We feel it is terribly unjust to continue burning fossil fuels and carry on harming our future. As children, and as the first generation to be hit so hard by climate change, we need to look out for each other.

The Australian bushfires have ignited not just a sense of horror across generations, but have also added a new sense of urgency.

People talk about climate change as if it’s a thing way off in future, but the wildfires we’ve seen raging in Australia in recent months bring it fully to the present day. How can we still think that climate change is in the future? Estimates say that the number of animals killed totalled half a billion. If they were humans that would be the same as losing seven per cent of the world’s population.