Future Leaders Network

Develop. Lead. Change.

G20 Youth Summit Japan 2019 - Emily Campbell

Forty plus authors from across the world crafting a three page document that proposes collective solutions to the biggest challenges of our time is as taxing a task as it sounds. Nothing at the Y20 is black and white. Not even the commas on the final Communiqué which have been moved, debated, omitted, inserted and reinserted many times over– often in adrenaline-fuelled disagreements in the hotel lobby at 2am in the morning. Everything is open to negotiation. Words and their controversial punctuation siblings matter. Words draw the skim-readers’ eye, they can plant a thought from which ideas can grow and spread by way of conversation. Every word is coloured by a conversation behind it. Those conversations breathe life into the Communiqué and it is that dialogue which gives it its substance and character.

My Y20 experience has put all laws, policies and outcomes of fora such as the G20 into perspective- those outcomes which the media is quick to dismiss as ‘bland’ promises or as ‘not really saying much.’ Part of the G20’s promise is that it brings the world’s most powerful to the table, to talk. The truth is that the G20 communiqué speaks volumes. It is even at its loudest where it is silent. What does what it not say, say? Its final content is informed by the debates around it, which gave it its voice and final form. It is this often forgotten behind-the- scenes diplomacy that shapes the final work of art.

A brief glance at media reports of the G20 summit in Osaka reveals that it is the side-line conversations which snatch the headlines. There’s a point to this. At the Y20, I soon learned that side-line conversations are just as important as the discussions that take place around the table. If an idea has failed to garner tract at the table, the side-line offers a space, and time, to drive outcomes, to reassure the sceptical and to goad optimism.

This brings me to advocacy which takes place before, during and after these all-important conversations at the conference or breakfast table. In one discussion, I was pushing for something that was misplaced in a sentence – blame the jetlag or nightlong discussions with my co-delegate that had left me less on the ball than I’d have liked to have been. Afterwards, one delegate said to me that this is what advocacy is- ‘you still raised the point and pushed for it.’ This says something about ‘failure’ too. Though the ultimate goalpost may well be insertion in the final communiqué, goalposts can shift and you can still achieve something even when you miss the aimed for target. When a conversation doesn’t reap the results we had envisioned, we deserve a pat on the back for starting it.

Informing all of this is values. These were not just our own but those of UK youth from up and down and across the country whose views we listened to on Skype, at London City Hall and via survey responses. Each conversation I had with a young person was met with the same ‘I never thought of that’. It was these bright ideas that drove us as a delegation and gave us the values we wore so proudly on our sleeves.

Part of the Y20 Communiqué’s advocacy power is its freedom from national interest. That freedom gives the youth delegation its energy, its promise - its youthfulness. Here was a globally representative group of young people that cared about the protection of fundamental labour rights, that cared about the climate crisis and that cared about the eradication of all forms of modern slavery.

The Y20 was intense, at times frustrating and exhausting, but exhilarating, enriching and inspiring. The Y20 is about give and take. It is a place where nothing is black and white, where compromise and working together is essential to achieve ends that we can collectively call our own. The Y20 dispels the myth we are all-too-often fed that young people are a politically apathetic, rebellious or noisy bunch. The Y20 provides just one snapshot that we do care and together we will shape the future we want for our generation and the next. We are a generation that speaks up and for a future which is fair, inclusive, sustainable- a future that leaves no-one behind.

Emily Campbell

Emily is a Masters student at Sciences Po, Paris in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action. She graduated top of her year in Law with European Legal Studies from King’s College London in 2017. During her undergraduate study, Emily acted as Vice-President of the King’s College London Pro Bono Society and, later, as President of the Human Rights Project. She has worked on policy reform of the UK penal system for women, taught Law in schools across London and is a qualified mediator. She has addressed the European Parliament and the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights on human rights policy reform in the UK and France.

Emily has worked at the International Criminal Court and currently sits on the editorial board of the Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights. She also devotes time to volunteering with the UN to develop policies for victims of sexual violence in Cameroon. Emily is passionate about human rights protection, particularly the rights of women and girls. She considers the Law to be a powerful tool for social change. Outside of work, Emily enjoys photography and poetry. Currently living in Paris, Emily loves travelling and sampling new cuisines and can’t wait to explore Japan.

Emily has been selected as the Head Delegate of the UK Delegation to the Y20 Summit 2019.

The High Level Climate Event - Nathaniel Ogunniyi

On Wednesday 3rd July, select members of the FLN were invited to The Royal Institution, Mayfair to hear from global leaders. The topic was 'Raising Climate Ambition', and we were hosted by Her Majesty’s Department for International Development.

The day kicked off with a networking session, where I met several other FLN members, ranging from university students, studying everything from medicine to international development, and recent joiners of grad programs to young professionals. We also met members of the public and private sectors, such as staff from DFID and from the British Red Cross. Shortly after we heard from the Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt Hon Rory Stewart OBE MP. The Secretary spoke about the UK's progress on the environmental front, such as ensuring all aid is Paris agreement compliant, committing to net zero carbon by 2050, and putting £190 million into new research on resilience in the developing world.

The UK has three main initiatives that it will be trying to get the UN to adopt, based around climate finance, early warning systems, and the integration of resilience measures in relation to climate. This is all in anticipation of the Climate action summit in September, hosted by the UN Secretary-General. The SG has divided the conference into nine workstreams, Finance, Energy Transition, Industry Transition, Nature-Based Solutions, Cities and Local Action, Mitigation Strategy, Youth Engagement and Public Mobilization, and Resilience and Adaptation, which the UK, along with Egypt, is leading on. This means that we are trying to develop 'Resilient people, a Resilient environment and Resilient economies and investment'. 

Following the secretary, the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources from the Gambia spoke, about the need for 'action to be accelerated'. The current pledges made by national governments will lead to a rise in global temperatures of 3oC, and the environmental difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is astounding, while 3 degrees is unimaginably worse. The LDC group of countries, on whose behalf he spoke, are committing to low carbon by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. These are issues of 'people and planet', 'fairness and justice'.

The final speaker, the Minister of Water and Environment from Uganda spoke about the importance of finance, decentralised finance for climate- affected economies, that lack strong financial institutions. The existing long process of accessing these funding leads to higher costs, and so less money reaches the communities that need them. This was in line with Secretary Stewart's remarks, that the SDG funding gap is currently 2.5 trillion. The SDGs include pledges about climate and energy, as well as education, economic growth and healthcare.

After a quick break, I attended a panel on Financing for a Resilient Future. While very high-level, there was an understanding that 'green bonds' and any existing financial infrastructure, or tools, will not be enough. The issue, however, is a lack of consensus on how to move forward. How can investors be confident of returns, when environmental forecasting is so uncertain. 

Uncertainty seems to be running high. The lack of environmental consensus, with differing views from Washington and Beijing and the lack of knowledge about future flooding risk in the UK, and of drought abroad makes climate issues difficult. But this does not make them any less real.

Nathaniel Ogunniyi

Nathaniel Ogunniyi is a second-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics undergrad at the University of Southampton. He has interests in environmental and economic issues and in the discovery of their solutions. Following his bachelors, he would like to read a masters degree, in public policy, and help find those solutions.

My Experience at the Austrian Embassy - Sadbh O'Reilly

Having recently moved to London, I was eager to find opportunities where I could connect with like-minded young professionals, interested in the same things I was. What attracted me to the Future Leaders Network was the recognition that young people don’t just have the potential for leadership but already have the qualities that make them leaders, but rather young people are just lacking the opportunities to exercise their leadership skills. 

 I first came across the Future Leaders Network  for their Policy Proposal Roundtable in the lead up to the Y7 and Y20 conference in Paris and Tokyo respectively. The aim was to generate a shortlist of policy proposals, informed by the themes of the summit, that the UK delegates could later expand further. The FLN team strongly emphasised that the delegates were there to formulate policy proposals that were as representative of the views of Britain’s young people as possible.

Following on from the success of the Roundtable, the second event was a consultation session to further develop a policy proposal for the UK delegates to bring to the Y7 and Y20 summits in the coming months. Held at the London Mayor’s Office, the theme was ‘Diversity in Tech’, drawing together participants from the public service to those working in the tech sphere. As a result of the myriad of insight and experience from the participants', the conversations were informative, illuminating, and engaging.

 The Austrian Ambassador Event

On the Wednesday, the 19th of June, Austrian Ambassador to the UK, Michael Zimmerman, opened his residency for an evening with him. Organised by the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy as part of their Embassy series, this was a unique and special opportunity to gain insight into the challenges day-to-day priorities of an esteemed diplomat. 

He began with a brief history of the building, nestled on the iconic Belgrave Mews, highlighting the effects of the shifting dynamics of Austro-UK relations throughout the twentieth century had on the building. Then walking through his illustrious career, he highlighted times he felt challenged or historical moments he was privileged to have participated in, before shifting gears to outline his priorities and responsibilities as the Austrian Ambassador to the UK, such as hosting cultural events to commemorate important dates or showcase Austria’s burgeoning artistic community. A short question-and-answer session revealed the Austrian perspective on pressing issues in the current political landscape and future trends. The event was wrapped up with a chance to network and reconnect with other attendees at the nearby Star Tavern.

 As a result of my participation in the Future Leaders Network, I have been exposed to opportunities and people that were previously inaccessible, and gained insight into the highest levels of decision-making and diplomacy. The chance to meet and have engaging conversations with other motivated and ambitious young people is what ultimately draws me back to the Future Leaders Network. I look forward to what the Future Leaders Network has in store for the rest of 2019.


About the Author


Sadbh is a recent graduate, passionate about international relations and diplomacy. Having moved around the world during her childhood, her interest in creating cross-border relationships to promote peace and understanding led her to study Politics and International relations at the University of Melbourne, with a particular interest in China. Since then, she has worked across disciplines to cover her interests in foreign policy, international development, and public diplomacy. She aspires to work in the foreign service or in an NGO promoting peace, development, and conflict mediation.

She is currently an Account Manager at The Future Factory.

Represent the UK at UN High Level Political Forum


The UK will sending a delegation across to the Forum later this month to present the UK's Voluntary National Review on its progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. This will consist of a 3 day visit to New York, 15th - 17th July 2019, in which the UK will present its work to the rest of the UN attendees. The UK’s Voluntary National Review which will be presented at the Forum, was launched last week: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uks-voluntary-national-review-of-the-sustainable-development-goals

The Department of International Development have agreed to incorporate into the delegation a youth delegate to accompany the Secretary of State on stage during the UK’s Voluntary National Review presentation; specifically to be able to speak about climate change. This is a truly unrivalled opportunity to be invited to and actively participate at the highest level of multilateral engagement.

The opportunity will be fully funded, in so far as flights accommodation and in conference costs will be covered.

For the Youth Delegate we are looking for the following:

  • Strong evidence of engagement with SDGs, demonstrating an extensive knowledge base and track record of work in this space.

  • Specialist knowledge on the problem of climate change.

  • Experience presenting at high level events and conferences.

To be eligible to represent the UK at the UN High Level Political Forum you must:

  • Be aged between 18 - 30 years old at the time of the Forum; 

  • Be a citizen of the United Kingdom and hold a valid UK passport;

  • Be able to attend Summit for its entire duration and participate in the pre-Forum preparation on regular basis.

Due to the proximity of the Forum and the amount of pre-Forum work required, we have to run an extremely tight application window if a youth delegate is to attend. We apologise that this is the case, and unfortunately we have only been given the go ahead from the Department of International Development today. As such the deadline for applications will be midnight Wednesday 3rd July 2019.

Want to know what we look for when recruiting for the Y7 Summit?

The Y7 is the youth engagement group of the G7, an international summit of the seven largest advanced economies in the world. The purpose of the youth engagement group is to highlight the most pressing issues affecting young people and to connect with young leaders in order to solicit their solutions to tackle these challenges. The Y7 summit itself typically takes the form of a week-long summit in the host country, bringing together young leaders from across the globe, to discuss and debate the big issues.

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The 2016 Y20 Communique

This morning, Y20 Head Delegates ratified the 2016 Y20 Communique. The result of 3 months’ worth of negotiations, initially online and culminating in the week-long Y20 Summit, hosted this year in Beijing and Shanghai, the communique will now be passed to G20 Leaders ahead of their annual Summit.

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