On Sunday, June 12, 2022, I joined the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative to host a virtual storytime as part of the Festival of Nature.
The Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world. (We) Children from around the globe took the audience on a magical journey by sharing our stories, hopes, dreams and vision for a sustainable world.
I was the speaker who opened up the event for the VoFG CI delegation, then Child Authors followed.
If you missed it or want to watch it again here is the video:
I’m happy to announce that I’m a junior editor of an international online journal for and by youth.
Harmony was launched in the UN’s COP26 climate change events in Glasgow on November 6, 2021. This online journal was built on special links that the youth created during the global pandemic lockdowns. They hosted a series of short online tutorials with professors and heads of institutes from world-class universities to inspire young people that were left stranded by COVID-19 school closures.
Interview by Kings College School Cambridge (to read the full interviewclick here)
Why was it important for you to visit COP26?
Nico: We wanted to attend COP26 for several reasons; firstly, it was a great opportunity for us to learn much more about climate change and what we can do to play our part in combating it. It was also especially important for us to attend as the event was in Scotland which made it easy to get to but also because we wanted to represent. One of our other main objectives was to build connections within the community. Thomas: We were very grateful to be invited to contribute to COP26 and represent young people. It was a great opportunity for us to both learn and share ideas. We were pleased that we were able to meet so many people from all over the globe and also speak with various organisations.
What did you do whilst you were there?
Nico: We arrived on Friday but Saturday was the main day of activities. In the morning we went to the “Green Zone” where we were able to check out lots of interesting climate focused experiments and witness the operations that different organisations are doing to help the climate cause. Some of the main highlights for me were seeing the ”eco-choir”, who have sung in different competitions, and WWF presentation (World Wide Fund for Nature) who spoke about the importance of marshes and wetlands eco systems.
The Green Zone was actually housed in a Science Museum so were able to see the COP26 events along with the normal exhibits which we enjoyed. We were also invited to be part of the launch of a youth-led journal called “Harmony”. The journal will include youth views on science, law and sustainability solutions. This comprised 5 University students, 8 young people, and several other youth campaigners online from across the world including Canada, Kenya, Taiwan, England and France.
Thomas: We really enjoyed listening to the eco-choir who spoke about what children can do to solve climate problems and this was really interesting and informative. We also saw some fascinating displays about polar regions melting and the effects that would have. We were able to go inside a cool jungle which was essentially a view of the future that nature had “taken back”. It was a really interactive and visually immersive experience. We were excited to launch the “Harmony” journal which will be a seasonal online publication with many different organisations contributing, such as WWF and various other youth-led organisations. We also met a Tik Tok influencer called Cam Whitehall, who campaigns a lot about climate and conservation and he was very interested to help with the journal which is great because he has many young followers.
What do you hope COP26 will achieve?
Nico: I was excited when they announced the reforestation commitment which aims to restore most or all forests by 2030. This was signed by several countries including Brazil and Australia. As a result, 85% of the world’s forests are going to be protected and reforested. I’m also keen to see what they’re going to do with the funds they’ve recently acquired in the area of reforestation to help deal with climate change.
Thomas: I hope they’ll be able to pledge to protect the world’s wetlands as this is very important in the journey to slowing climate change. The world’s woodlands, fens but also mangroves are vitally important both to nature and conservation so I am interested to see what commitments are made to these areas. I am also hoping they make progress on protecting the Arctic and that they agree pledges and funds to protect these regions.
What’s next for you?
Nico: I am looking forward to working towards the goals with the Harmony journal – I’m keen to start distributing the first copy, I would love for it to get a big following and grow a community. Next steps are also going to be continuing to work with the main youth organisations throughout the world to continue to create a community of people who understand and can help climate change.
Thomas: I’m also looking forward to launching the Harmony journal as a means to spread awareness – there is no time left to leave this to tomorrow – the world’s leaders need to start tackling the situation more urgently today. The more people know about climate change and the more they can educate themselves, the more we can all make a difference together.
I’ll be chairing Free Online Eco-Seminar Mini-Series for Students – Register Now!
Together with the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative, the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council has been 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, 4:30-5:30pm (UK time) on 17 February and 24 February.
Eco-Seminar 1: Saving our Steams and Rivers through Sustainable Water Management – Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Focus: How can we better protect and sustainably manage our beautiful freshwater resources, preventing floods and depletion, and saving our streams and rivers?
Chairs:Nico Roman (Cambridge Schools Eco-Council Co-Chair, Voices of Future Generations Child Ambassador, Kings College School Eco-Society Co-leader) and Paloma Bargh (Cambridge Schools Eco-Council Deputy Chair and Eco-Activities Committee Co-Chair, Saint Johns College School Eco-Society Co-leader)
Speakers: Child author speaker: Rehema Kibugi (Gold Award Laureate, Voices of Future Generations (VoFG) Children’s Rights Initiative, Child Author for Africa) tbc Ecocouncil speaker: Junayd Islam (Cambridge Schools Eco-Council former Co-Chair, key organizer of student climate strikes and city council livestreamed Eco-Council meetings). Experts: Ian Halls (Leader, Cambridge Friends of the Earth) and Fabiana Piccoli Araújo Santos (LLM Candidate at the University of Cambridge and co-founder of Itacaré Water Caring Project Brazil)
Eco-Seminar 2: Promoting Sustainable Lifestyles through Preventing Plastic Waste – Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Focus: How can we better promote and practice more sustainable lifestyles at home and through our shopping habits, even during lockdown, preventing plastic waste and protecting our fragile rivers, oceans and ecology?
Chairs: Nico Roman(Cambridge Schools Eco-Council Co-Chair, Voices of Future Generations Child Ambassador, Kings College School Eco-Society Co-leader) and Ginny Denmead (Cambridge Schools Eco-Council Co-Chair and St Bedes College School Eco-Society Co-leader)
Speakers: Child author speaker: Freya Tikva (Gold Award Laureate, Voices of Future Generations (VoFG) Children’s Rights Initiative Child Author for Europe, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council Deputy Chair and Co-Chair of Eco-Activities Committee. Ecocouncil speaker: Luana Fernandes Seixas (Cambridge Schools Eco-Council Communications Officer, Student Leader of Long Road Sixth Form Eco-Council, key organizer of student climate strikes and eco-seminars). Experts: Emma Thomas (Co-founder and Director, Full Circle Zero Waste Retail, Ecologist) and Ben Thomas (Environment Manager, Cambridge Waitrose Grocery Store) Over zoom, after a 15 mins for tech testing and interactions from 4:15pm to 4:30pm, student Eco-Councillors and UN Voices of Future Generations child authors / ambassadors, together with world-class experts, will provide a 20-minute introduction to a sustainability challenge, and discuss creative local and solutions. For a further 30 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 5:30pm.
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)
These strikes raise awareness and put pressure on the government to take action. Times are so desperate that we as children are having to leave school for people to listen and take action. Each strike has a different theme. Show your support by performing a speech, make a placard or in any other artistic way.
During quarantine we have been doing online strikes. For this we ask you to send in a photo for the collage to be posted on our social medias and here on the website. Speeches, songs and other artistic expressions are also welcomed. You can send any submissions to our email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cambridge Schools Eco-Councilis 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.
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
“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.”
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!