Tag: SDG 15

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)

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 

Cambridgeshire is facing a water crisis

The river Cam has been flowing at only 33% of its long term average, according to the Environment Agency. Cambridgeshire’s source of water, the Chalk Hills are running out of water largely due to abstraction beyond what the River itself needs. We as Cambridge Youth Strikers 4 Climate are starting this petition demanding action be taken.

Cambridge’s tap water comes from the Eastern Chalk Aquifer, fed by the chalk streams and filtered naturally by the local chalk hills. We have no other source of water here. Hotter summers are possibly drying the chalk out more. So through climate change and unsustainable abstraction by water companies, with complacency from the Cambridgeshire Country Council and the Cambridge City Council, our Chalk Hills are losing their natural reservoir.

We call upon Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and water companies (Anglian Water, Cambridge Water and others) to suspend all developments on the Eastern Chalk Aquifer and hold immediate talks between themselves to find an alternative to damaging the chalk streams through over abstraction.

This is not just about preserving drinking water for our human population. The chalk streams are a beautiful natural phenomena, unique to our countryside; in fact 85% of the world’s Chalk streams are found in England. This makes it all the more heartbreaking to see chalk rivers like the River Cam deteriorate under our management.

If you’re a Cambridge citizen, you may not realise how bad river flow is due to how canalised the Cam is. Controlled tightly by locks, damns and weirs the river appears a lot higher than it actually is. But what can still be seen is how poor the water quality is. As Stephen Tomkins (Chairman of the Cam Valley Forum) says, the River Cam has become “a big pond, basically,”.

This is absolutely shameful. In one of the richest and most scientifically advanced cities in the world our renowned river has become “a big pond”. Our aquatic life, from mayflies to trout to otters, are living and dying in “a big pond”. We lecture nations across the world on their mistreatment of their environments and we let our own rivers degrade to nothing but “a big pond”.

Enough is enough, we need the Councils and Water companies to stop playing the defensive and show real leadership over this water crisis. Our well-being’s at stake, our population’s at stake, our rivers’ at stake, our ecosystem’s at stake. No more development until you find a solution!

Save the River Cam! Stop development on Eastern Chalk Aquifer!

Sing the petition

Street Art Nature Magic – by Nico Roman

Great news!! My story Street Art Nature Magic won the 2019 Lune Spark Story contest.

Street-Art Nature Magic by Nico Roman          

Abstract: In this urban myth, a secretive young street artist activates his own creativity, magnificent murals and a touch of magic, inspiring an entire generation through an epic struggle to save his city and the world’s most vulnerable, threatened living creatures from destruction.           

Judges Commentary: This piece of writing blew me away… The story is raw and authentic in its storytelling. One can see fantastic descriptions of imagery throughout the story. The author has a great command not only over the language, but also over vocabulary. This story reads like a lyrical poem and has been successful in delivering the message the author wanted to deliver. The story shows that the author has a wonderful sense of philosophical things. This piece of writing, according to me, will certainly resonate with the readers.  There is a writing talent who will go much ahead in his writing career.

Read the full story below 🙂


Street Art Nature Magic by Nico Roman Cordonier-Gehring[1]

In the first rays of dawn, a secret street artist peeled away from the wall as his shimmering sprays whispered the last sapphire, emerald and scarlet streaks across the blackened industrial slabs. His new endangered species mural was finally finished!

On the sooty cinderblocks of the deserted factory, Shimmer had painted a lush green bamboo grove with an anxious family of velvety Giant Pandas, their ivory and ebony faces gazing out of the mural with concern. In the foreground, the dusty cinnamon coats and clasped coppery paws of two distant relatives, Red Pandas, sheltered in a candyfloss cloud of a cherry blossom tree. And in the distance, the emerald bamboo shoots of their habitat splintered away, as the ominous claws of new roads and railways crisscrossed their horizon.               

The artist slipped quietly away across the shadowed slate rooftops, his ragged jacket, indigo bandana, dark jeans and battered high-tops fading into September’s city skyline. Shimmer’s smile glowed softly. His hopes were high that his message would be heard. People would understand and help to halt the destruction. Shimmer’s purpose was simple – to activate art against the Conglomerate Inc.  The industrial oil, biofuel and plastics corporation had built itself a twenty-story steel rat’s nest as a global headquarters in his city. Conglomerate Inc’s strategy was to control the nastiest projects in the cheapest, most desperate places in the world. They paid governments to look away while profits piled up, then disappeared, leaving behind degraded ecosystems, poisoned communities and changing climates for others to clean up or simply, hopelessly endure.

Shimmer was frustrated. He had vowed to wage a one-boy crusade. His art was to be a voice for the most vulnerable creatures – animals, insects and plants who were losing their lives while Conglomerate Inc’s terrible toxic spills, angry asphalt scars and plastic processing plants advanced. But in the end, maybe he was just one sad kid, alone with his spray cans in the night, trying for a better world. And unfortunately, he seemed to have no real chance of winning.

By October the city was buzzing with rumours. Through local schools, parks and markets, people murmured: “he’s like a pixie, skipping across our rooftops to leave sparkling, colourful messages.” Kids took photos of the murals which went viral across Instagram and Twitter, getting over a million hits. But in the halls of power, debates tasted like bitter deceit and vengeance. “This creep will vandalize our city and annoy property owners – we must stop him!” growled the industry council. “He is just a petty rebel – and he is laughing at us!” bellowed the corrupt Mayor and his cronies.

In November, the authorities played their next, catastrophic card. Shimmer was declared a danger to the city, a terrorist. Anyone who could identify him was offered a thousand pounds reward and a golden medal.  But they could not find him. Ironically, as the authorities hunted Shimmer, the city grew ever more famous for its magnificent, magical, multi-hued murals.

In December, on the side of an abandoned, bankrupt Toys-R-Us store, Shimmer streaked an elegant sage, butterscotch and aquamarine Leatherback Sea Turtle being strangled by garish crimson plastic clown masks, while rainbows of delicate Dragonfish, lacey forests of kelp, convoluted corals and silky Tiger Tail Seahorses danced across a turquoise ocean floor.

Covering an annoying billboard advertising glittery nail varnish, Shimmer sprayed a congress of ginger Orangutans swinging away in terror from the slashing roar of a steel chainsaw, the oily coils of diesel smoke curling above charred rainforest soils.

“He’s a leopard – going anywhere he wants each night!” grumbled the Chief of Police. Posters reading ‘Wanted – Dead or Alive!’ were plastered on every smoke-stained lamp-post. They hung from chain-link fences. But all through January and February, Shimmer would fade into the mists at dawn, slinking silently away alone. Every time they increased the reward or instituted a new citywide search, he would just paint more furiously, until he was finishing a new mural every other night.

No-one knew where his art would strike next.

On the dank brick of the Tesco’s across from a blighted petrol station, against a backdrop of radiant stars and cobalt-stained aurora borealis, a silent alabaster Polar Bear and her two small cubs gazed sadly over the city, reflected in a spreading stain of oil that cloaked the icy aquamarine Arctic sea.

There were over ten million Instagram followers by March, and street merchandise was starting to appear – T-shirts, mugs and tea towels with Shimmer’s images. The authorities were baffled, and Conglomerate Inc increased their security, installing angry alarm bells and searchlights that pierced the city sky at night, further annoying the residents.

One April night, Shimmer nearly met with disaster. He was crouched on the Guildhall fire escape, painting the last iridescent glimmers into a metallic Azure Hawker Dragonfly’s wings, hovering over a calm willow-ringed wetland pond next to an open, bleeding sewer. Dark vans came cruising by, then screamed to a screeching halt and a patrol clambered out, surrounding him and forcing him into a side-alley. Two grim, iron-grey men with pasty, angry faces came out of the smog in dark, expensive coats – it was the Mayor and the CEO of Conglomerate Inc, so close he could see their twisted grins as they arrived, television cameras tracking their triumphant strides.

As the boy backed further into the dead end, a rope-ladder suddenly slung down beside him. Shimmer scrambled for his life, his battered satchel swinging wildly as he shot straight up, then slipped across the shingles, sliding down the next dark drainpipe and away.

For all of May, armored trucks crowded the streets, searching for the artist. It angered the local people even more, but after his narrow escape, Shimmer was afraid he’d have to give up.

Then help came from an unexpected direction. The city’s youth, thousands of kids, took to the streets for Shimmer. They clambered the rooftops and alleyways every night, balancing on brick walls and dancing parkour over chimneys, wearing bandanas of all colours, carrying battered satchels, sporting paints of all kinds and ragged jackets. As the undercover struggle wore on, alarms began to peal every hour in different wards, triggered by his admirers, and Shimmer would slip into the shadows as yet another ‘kid artist’ placed hands above their head and turned smiling into the powerful police torch beams, only to be proven innocent later.

Still, by June, Shimmer was exhausted, worn down to the bone from the pressure of his craft. His risky strategy was becoming more dangerous. It was time for his last hope.

He dug deep into an old chest in his quiet attic room. Nestled in newspaper fragments was a legacy box of special paints from long ago. He dusted them off, and carefully dripped a few precious drops of each shimmering liquid into his special lucky set of spray cans. Then he pulled on his indigo bandana and ragged jacket, slipping off into the night.

Shimmer’s most important new mural was destined for the wall of Conglomerate Inc itself, looming high above the city centre. He needed every bit of his stealth and skill to bypass the cameras and guards, shimmying like a charcoal leopard up the elevator shaft.

In his final message, Shimmer’s city itself, in luminous sprays, formed a chain of friends and allies. The children were standing tall on foundations of schools, libraries, urban gardens and galleries, all glowing with life, their hands raised up. In their palms were protected the most vulnerable creatures of the world. The animals marched proudly onwards, circled by a mosaic of beautiful birdlike figures.

Once he had sprayed the contours, Shimmer reached for his special spray-cans.

Into the gleaming ivory arcs of the lost Elephant and Black Rhinoceros tusks, he added a spritz of Desperation, then swirled in two splashes of Strength and Survival. Into the accusing eyes of the advancing Gorillas, he mixed jets of Resistance and Hope. Across the placards of protesting youth and the petitions of supporting citizens, he blended shades of Inspiration and Solidarity. Slashing the curving howls of the CEO and Mayor, their faces fully revealed as their frozen forms tumbled endlessly from penthouse heights, he dripped Justice and Bitter Defeat.

And into the quiet, shadowy figure of one lone street-art crusader, armed only with his spray-cans, Shimmer painted Victory. 

By July, the world had changed. A new city government had been elected, with a Mayor who vowed to cleanse the town of corruption and protect nature. The CEO and senior executives of Conglomerate Inc were indicted after a dawn raid of their global headquarters and the firm went bankrupt. The Mayor and all the politicians that had been paid off were investigated and imprisoned. A Street Arts Council was established to celebrate Shimmer’s creations, and the city experienced an eco-tourism boom as people travelled from all over to visit the magnificent, marvelous and extravagant murals.

Shimmer himself, of course, was never found. Every magic has its price and every ghost his moment. But he is watching. Somewhere in the world, if a new depredations begin, a ragged figure with indigo bandana might peel away from a nearby mural, tucking his paints into a battered satchel, to begin again as the spirit of his generation.


[1] Special thanks to all my family, my godparents and my English professor Grandmother for all their advice, ideas for word choices and images, and help with the tricky spellings over nearly 3 months of work, and 10 re-writes. Especially thanks to my brother for helping to make a really long list of great creative words for different colours. I think I used nearly all of them.