The charity London Youth has been championing young people, youth clubs and organisations for over 130 years. As Londoners when we can often only hear bad news in the press about young people in trouble, in gangs and connected to knife crime, it is important to celebrate and acknowledge the thousands of young people who are positive role models and living fulfilling lives. All young people need to have opportunities to have fun, learn skills and participate in their local communities and this great City. Not everyone has the easiest start nor the chances to engage in fulfilling and diverse activities. However, London Youth helps all young people enjoy sports, arts and outdoor education and provides help towards jobs and with employability skills.
The London Youth Awards held at City Hall rightly rewarded the cream of organisations and individuals who have helped each other, gained skills and made a real contribution to their communities and wider society.
One theme of the evening was to pay tribute to the youth workers who are a steadying rock, mentor and role model to many of the young people in the youth clubs. We saw the launch of a new film about youth work in action https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLx9jc0ATYlGNFHFX8lb7WbC0yKo2cQ44O that really gave testimony to the huge importance that youth workers make to the lives of so many young people. Literally “life savers” Our young people deserve this support and the opportunity to grow up in a safe and supportive environment with the chance to find jobs and gain skills for life.
As one of the participants said young people are not the problem and we need to ensure that we don’t brand them as such but ensure that we are open to helping and providing every opportunity for them to flourish.
I was pleased to present the Award for Young Leader of the Year to Jordan Isaacs from Hackney Quest. She led in their Youth Voice Project with workshops for young people aged from 10- 18 and presenting to a range of stakeholders including the Mayor of Hackney. She showed real ambition and talent in providing leadership and the positive voice of young people. What a tribute to Jordan.
I know that London Youth and others continue to work without a lot of resource and with difficult situations to give every young person a chance.
The City of London Corporation has pledged to be a Plastic Free City. This means that the City is working to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics. The campaign offers a range of actions for businesses and individuals to join in order to consider and change their use of single-use plastics. It is free to join and uses a self-assessment process based upon trust. The approach is popular with businesses in the Square Mile because it allows them to set the timetable for making necessary changes to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics. There are now over 70 businesses who have signed up covering 73,000 staff ( 1 in 7 of the City workforce).
It is estimated on average that every adult in the UK buys 3 bottles of water each week. This means that in the City the usage by just our transient workforce is around 1.5 million bottles. Add to that the 9 million visitors per annum and the 9000 residents and that figure rises to around 2 million per week. That equates to 34 tonnes a week in the Square Mile alone. Further over 50% of the plastic bottles in the City's waste are for still water - what we can all drink fresh and clean out of the tap. Water refill points have been installed by the City Corporation and we will have 17 of these across the City by this autumn. This is in addition to the national Refill Campaign which has over 140 retail outlets offering free water refill points at their shops and cafes.
We can all play a part and so I have also pledged as an individual to follow the City's lead. I have a reusable cup for my takeaway coffee and a reusable water bottle to take tap water with me if needed. I was also pleased to attend the first City Plastic Free event on 4th July at Nomura's offices. This coincided with the Mayor of London's Climate Action Week. Speakers presented on statistics and ideas as to how to protect the environment and eliminate single use plastic from our operations. We can all learn more and borrow ideas from other businesses.
Thames 21 report that water bottles still form a major element of the plastics washed up on the foreshore of the River. Thames Water Utilities continue to provide safe clean drinking water through public supply at around 1000 times cheaper than bottled water. Therefore on 25th July I was pleased to join Thames 21 and various businesses and DEFRA colleagues to take part in the data collection and River clean-up on the foreshore of the River Thames at the ancient Anglo- Saxon dock at Queenhithe. As an inlet this dock collects a lot of rubbish on every tide and so there was quite a pile of things to see on the surface as well as other items that were stuck in crevices. Using a meter square measuring device we worked over the foreshore in meter square sections recording and removing the rubbish. Interesting finds included a whole rubber tyre (too heavy to move far and needing specialist help to take away for recycling) and a plastic toy gun. We felt we had cleared one tide's waste and learned a lot more about what we can all do.
If you want more information please sign up here https://www.plasticfreecity.london/
July 1 - 8 is London Climate Action Week. The whole of this period is crammed full of events drawing attention to the issues around the climate emergency. The events range from exhibitions to visits from citizen assemblies to formal meetings. Topics range from food, energy, climate, infrastructure, forests, coal, civil disobedience, resilience, commodities, water, justice, risk, health and carbon. There is something for everyone's taste and understanding and a lot of challenging and informative events. Many of these events are free to attend and are certainly going to dominate the London scene and chatter over the next week and beyond.
My particular interest is in Green Finance and how the City of London's capital and financial markets can assist in creating the transition to a low carbon economy and to assist in moving towards the net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050, a target that has been set by the Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May. The City of London Corporation is hosting the Green Finance Summit 2019 in the Guildhall on 2nd July. The topic is Investing in Actions. A wide array of high level speakers including leading politicians and Ministers, academics and business men and women will be presenting a challenging series of debates and discussions.
There will also be the launch of the Green Finance Institute of which I am a Director. We have appointed our CEO who is Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas and she will be speaking at the event and setting out the direction of the Institute. The Institute is jointly funded by the City Corporation and HM Government and will champion sustainable finance in the UK and abroad. It will It will look to accelerate the greening of the global financial system and enhance London’s position as a world leader in this field by bringing together the private and public sector. In a first for the sector, the Institute will mobilise green finance missions to accelerate sector-specific transitions to a low-carbon future. These missions will draw on actors across the green finance landscape – from government to finance and industry. Rhian-Mari has said:
"The science is clear, we need to act urgently to build a resilient and low carbon economy. To do so, will require new forms of cross-sector collaboration, the removal of barriers to investment and ultimately the re-directing of more private capital towards climate change mitigation and resilience projects and strategies. The new Green Finance Institute, with support from the City of London Corporation and Government, is uniquely placed to foster the partnerships that will lead to the creativity, innovation and commitment needed to unlock the opportunities from the emerging green economy. It is an honour to become the first CEO of such a timely and significant initiative."