On 15th January, fifteen 15 year olds met with senior decision makers in the UK to discuss setting Sustainable Development Goals, and Climate Action Targets, and their proposed worldwide implementation, via two Global Summits this year, in September and December respectively. I was chosen to be one of those fifteen young people, invited to 10 Downing Street. I represented “holding governments to account”, which is key to successful delivery of these goals.
It was a wonderful experience to be part of a co-ordinated event in over 120 countries across the world which enabled young people to have our voices heard, and question our global leaders. 2015 is a key year for change, not only for the UK but the whole world, as new international goals, policy and standards are put in place.
We all met up for the first time at the Red Lion on Parliament Street on the 14th January, when we got to know other members of the group, and I was interviewed by Save the Children for a promotional piece. Then we were all off to Dover House, the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
The sense of anticipation was palpable, once we sat down in the meeting room. You could’ve heard a pin drop, and every time someone walked through the door, everyone turned to see who it was! When Mr Clegg did actually arrive, he greeted the group with a warm smile, and we told him about “action/2015” and its importance. He was obviously really interested in principle by the campaign, and thinks that we should “seize 2015 as a crucial opportunity to take big global decisions”.
When I tried to pin Nick down on what the UK’s individual targets and measurable outcomes were, he responded that he was of the opinion that a smaller number of more targeted goals would achieve better outcomes. However, he did not seem eager to identify which goals he considered to be the most important. It was evident that this was one of the reasons why we need to get involved and raise our voices through this campaign, to influence our politicians and leaders to make the right decisions about the number and breadth of the Sustainable Development Goals.
On the second day, our group discussed each of the goals in more detail and how they related to the issues we were individually representing, during an early morning session in our hotel. We also considered what else was going on to celebrate the launch of “action/2015” and the importance of it being a worldwide event.
We then caught the train to Queen’s Park, and the Community School where we were to meet the Leader of The Opposition, Ed Miliband. After a tidal wave of photographers had passed, we were led upstairs for a private meeting with Mr Miliband himself and Mary Creagh the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. They announced that “As a result of the Millennium Development Goals (set out 15 years ago) 17,000 fewer children die every day in our world as a result of vaccines and other efforts and (this is an extraordinary figure) 58 million more children go to primary school across our world”.
Mr Miliband was especially passionate about climate change, having been Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change until 2010. A public Q&A event then followed, and Mr Miliband extolled his passion for the next generation, and was interested, when questioned, in involving more young people at the heart of policy creation.
We then went to 10 Downing Street to hand in the letter to David Cameron.
There is still a lot to do to convince leaders to make the decisions you think are right, with regards to our international position and the development aid we give – especially with the upcoming General Election in May. So, get involved, put pressure on the decision makers, your elected representatives to ensure that the best goals are put in place. This will be an ongoing campaign in the run up to the two main Summits, so keep an eye out for more opportunities to take part and get involved.
For a summary of how the Action 2015 campaign was launched around the world, click here