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Commonwealth Action Series on protecting planet amid stalled climate change momentum

Youth activists as young as nine will join a momentous session on protecting the planet at a time when global climate talks are put on ice.

Earlier this year, the coronavirus crisis delayed the planned UN climate summit, known as COP26, by a year. Hundreds of young climate activists from across the Commonwealth are, nevertheless, connecting virtually on 2 December to fill the void. 

They will elaborate on proposals to reduce carbon emissions, stave off the threat of climate breakdown and give young people a seat at COP26, which will inform the discussion at the 2021 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Under the theme ‘Climate Change and Sustainable Blue Economies’, panellists from the public, private and non-profit sectors will share easy-to-adopt climate solutions which young people can roll out in their communities.

The session is the final episode of the Commonwealth Action Series, which has been providing young people with a virtual space to shape policies on a whole spectrum of issues since August this year.

The Secretariat is hosting the series with the Commonwealth Youth Council and the task force responsible for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Forum.

Sign up to attend the session on 2 December 2020 from 12.00 to 13.30 GMT.

For more information, email [email protected]

Moderator and panellists

Pauline Vaskou

Ms Vaskou is Oceans Partnership Manager at Bloomberg Philanthropies. She is a member of the Environment Program at Bloomberg Philanthropies where she oversees partnerships for the Vibrant Oceans Initiative.

Ms Vaskou identifies and manages partnerships in more than ten countries to protect coral reefs, rebuild fisheries and promote ocean transparency, with a focus on strategic government engagement and core grantee partners.

Before joining Bloomberg, she was leading Tesco’s international responsible sourcing work on commodities with high social and environmental risks. Building on her experience in supply chain optimisation and environmental co-benefits, Ms Vaskou crafted and implemented corporate commitments across the business, working with leading non-profits and industry bodies.

She is an alumnus of Imperial College London where she graduated with a BSc in Biology and MSc in Environmental Technology. She currently lives in London and enjoys diving when she visits coastal fishing communities.

Engage with Ms Vaskou on Twitter


Licypriya Kangujam, India

Ms Kangujam is a nine-year-old Indian climate activist. She started raising her voice for protecting, preserving and nurturing the environment when she was six.

Ms Kangujam is one of the youngest climate activists in the world and has addressed world leaders in the 2019 UN Climate Conference 2019 in Madrid, Spain. She called on world leaders to take immediate climate action to save the future. She is an outspoken young leader, inspiring millions of people around the world and a leading global voice on climate despite her young age.

She is the 2019 World Children Peace Prize Laureate, 2019 Rising Star of Earth Day Network and 2020 Global Child Prodigy Award Winner.

Ms Kangujam has addressed over 400 institutions and forums in over 30 countries, informing adults about the threat of climate change.

When she started her movement in 2018, she was alone but today, she is followed, loved and supported by thousands of people from across the global.

Engage with Ms Kangujam on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Moderator – Dr Olufunso Somorin, Kenya

Dr Somorin, based in Kenya, is a Regional Principal Officer with the African Development Bank. He oversees the bank’s climate investment programmes and policies across the 13 countries in the Eastern African region.

Dr Somorin is directly involved in the design, appraisal and supervision of more than 120 development projects, worth around $9.25 billion, in the region.

He leads the bank’s dialogues with national and regional government institutions, development partners, civil society and the private sector on strategic development issues.

Dr Somorin holds a PhD in International Environmental Policy from Wageningen University, Netherlands. As an Erasmus Mundus scholar, he holds two Master’s degrees from Finland and the Netherlands. He holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Investment Appraisal and Project Management from the University of Bradford, UK.

Dr Somorin has received numerous executive training on development issues at Cambridge and Oxford Universities in the UK.

Engage with Dr Somorin on Twitter | LinkedIn


Alison Swaddling, Australia

Alison Swaddling is an Ocean Governance Advisor at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

Working in the governance and policy development sector, providing direct assistance to governments, she has also developed regional frameworks for marine scientific research and environmental management for deep-sea minerals. Drawing on her previous experience in the commercial sector, Ms Swaddling leads the deep-sea minerals project at the Secretariat.

She has acted as a guest lecturer at the University of the South Pacific. Ms Swaddling holds a BSc in Marine Science from James Cook University in Australia and an MA in Environmental Law from the University of Sydney, Australia.

Engage with Ms Swaddling on Twitter



Lesein Mutunkei, Kenya

Lesein Mutunkei is a 16-year-old Kenyan footballer and environmental activist who plants a tree for every goal he scores. At the age of 11 when Mr Mutunkei learned about the impact of deforestation, climate change and plastic pollution, he decided to plant a tree for each goal.

His passion for football and the outdoor activity gave birth to the ‘Trees 4 Goals’ initiative, through which he has influenced changed at his school, football club, local community.

So far, Mr Mutunkei has planted more than 1,400 indigenous trees. Last fall he was invited by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to help him plant trees at the State House in Nairobi, the presidential residence.

He says: "I believe football has the power to connect, change and inspire young people to create global environmental awareness and take global action to achieve a greener future."

Engage with Mr Mutunkei on Twitter.