Why is Simon working in Rio de Janeiro?

27 May

Hi everyone,

Firstly, some of you might be unsure on what I do for a living – so listen to the AudioBoo for my post-university life story.

Why should you keep an eye on Rio de Janeiro this June?

Let’s go back 20 years to 1992, whenVanilla Ice was still cool and a girl stood up at the Rio Earth Summit making the world listen to the need for sustainable development.

This UN conference (Rio Earth Summit) was HUGE – If you were in school within the last 20 years, your geography lessons have featured aspects discussed at the summit. Such as

  • Sustainable Development
  • Climate Change
  • Agenda 21 (a blueprint for sustainable development at the global, national and local level)

and now 20 years later, the UN, governments, organisations and individuals are making a  returning to Rio, for the

Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development 20-22nd June

to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development and to create the future we want.

Why Now?

Climate change, high unemployment, water scarcity, food security, high populations,  decreasing fish stocks, the need for a better green economy and alternative energy resources plus other global issues that we all know about, need to be solved on an international level before it is to late. After all,
These meetings have been going on longer then I and 3 billion other young people have lived for.

Why am I in Rio?

I do online communications  for Peace Child International  an organisation that empowers young people to be the change they want  to see in the world.

I will be commenting, promoting and giving news updates on  Twitter, Facebook etc.. but more then that I will also be joining hundreds of other inspiring young people, adults and organisations in Rio and 10,000s across the world in – pushing world leaders to commit to making the world a more sustainable place and creating the future we need ASAP.

So, please when you hear about Rio+20 (20-22nd June) just prick up your ears – I’m there, that is what I am working on.

You can also follow what I am involved with, online and do your part in pushing for a cleaner, fairer future by getting involved yourself with loads of petitions and actions.

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Work Links

6th World Youth Congress.  June 4-13th
Where youth learn new skills and camapigning tips peer-to-peer, will be held in Rio at the beginning of June; and I am coordinating the online social media strategy involving the 1000s of youth who could not join us in the city of Samba.


Road to Rio+20
A coalition, uniting organisations around the world which are mobilising youth towards Rio+20.
Since May last year, I have been doing the social media for this  initiative & it will be in over-drive during Rio+20


UK Links

Want to do something in the UK – Check out these links for further information.

UK Governments Rio+20 Stance


Stop Climate Chaos – Rio Connection

Festival of Transition

Alternative Conference for the Rio Earth Summit

Speak up for Children
Campaign to get UK’s Nick Clegg to speak for the drought in West Africa at Rio+20

Worldwide Links & Petitions

Official Rio+20 website

Major Group of Children & Youth’s website
The group that officially speaks for young people at Rio+20

Right to the Future
Petition for Ombudsperson for Future Generations

Tell World Leaders to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies!


For the Teachers

A great website full of resources for teaching sustainable development and youth engagement  – made by me!


Social Media PowerPoint Presentations Should Be Punched In The Face

1 May

Imagine this:
You are sat within an audience watching a person who claims to be a social media ‘guru’ or ‘expert’ start their PowerPoint presentation.

Slide 1. Contains the title (obviously) which will more then likely hint that this PowerPoint presentation will give you the secret  to eternal social media guru power.
Slide 2. Uses a open question to get you engaged – 99% of the time this question is ‘So, what is social media?‘.
Slide 3.  Sets the scene and gives you a overview history of social media – Remember that lesson, we had to have before using the Kettle? You know, the one in which you had to learn about the history of kettles before you could use it. Well this slide is just the same.
Slide 4. Goes into different types of social media platforms. – With the guru stating that there are some very popular ones and some that are not
Slide 5. Then has photos of said social media platforms – just in case you don’t know what social media looks like; – Like that one time someone had to show me a picture of a foot, so that I could understand their story about a foot.
Slide 6. Contains statistics on how many people used social media today –  For the sole reason that big numbers look great in a PowerPoint presentation.
Slide 7.  Is full of business terms like highly targeted audience, core metrics and qualitative benefits  just to make the point that social media is a platform of highly targeted audiences, made of core metrics that bring in qualitative benefits.

The guru then finishes with several slides showing how different companies have used social media to create a niche for themselves and gain a gazillion followers.

If you are having a hard time imagining this scenario, don’t worry – within a 1 minute search on the interwebs I found 3 perfect examples:- 

I could now fit in a image that represents Death by PowerPoint, but I’m not, because even that is overused – so instead I’m going to give you a link – its up to you if you click. But it is a hell of a-lot better then an image that represents Death by PowerPoint.

So I now, as king of what is right for man-kind : declare a ban on all PowerPoint presentations to do with social media – We  can not use the most soul-destroying presentation tool  to represent the most creative, communication tool on the planet.

Let’s instead

  • Use the internet.
    Why not go on the social media sites instead – it makes it a little bit more fun. (make sure you xxx browser history, doesn’t crop up by accident…)
  • Prezi it.
    Yes it is just a fancy PowerPoint, but it is a little bit more fun then slides
  • Get the flip-chart paper & post-it’s out
    Go old school, everyone loves a bit of flipchart paper and post-it’s – it allows the audience to  be creative in what they write/draw
  • Start roundtables. We can assume everyone understands social media to a certain extent – so don’t go on about your stats and figures on why it is important, get everyone to discuss it’s importance, tip, hints and ideas. Open Source the data within everyone’s heads .
  • Make a game
    Everyone loves games
  • Make a story.
    and everyone loves stories – these are what made us learn, understand and create new ideas when we were wee children. – So why should we give it up?
  • Be more creative then I am within these bullet-points.
    Seriously I do not have all the answers

I challenge you.

Are we the scary generation?

5 Jan

Firstly, lets start by watching this video by the film critic Mark Kermode on the sub-genre of films that explore a strange fear of children and young people.

‘The terror is not to do with the young people of today are thugs, hooligans, maniacs, rioters – whatever.
The real fear is, they’re smarter then us.’ 

I’ve also been interested in how new horror films can relate to modern day themes (explored more within this Empire Magazine feature) and as Kermode states throughout the age of cinema – youth  have been represented as a scary modern force, because of  their intelligence, ambition and forward thinking.

Now, many people could say that the generation of today is not that smart; thousands of Facebook status updates and Tweets show that we “all” love Twlight and Bieber whilst not caring or knowing anything about politics, modern science or culture.
The young people people within the London riots who posed for photos of themselves with their loot of basmati rice also did not carry forward the concept of us youth being smarter then any generation before us…

However, what 2011 and its preceding years have shown us, is a change. Or at least a vast majority of people – mostly of a young age wanting there to be change in quite hard hitting deep social, economical, political and environmental  issues. The Arab Spring being the pinnacle of examples, followed by the Occupy financial movement that has spread across the world and not forgetting the need and want of solving climate change issues for not only today’s youth but for future generations as well.

So now we come to this point, where parents and adults fears, portrayed by psychotic, demon possessed youth within films seem to be taking place within the real world on a large scale- even if they just steal basmati rice.
Leading us to a conclusion that for the next decade, horror films will be full of youth causing gory death and gory despair. (more then likely in pointless 3D)

However, what if the youthful voice for wanting change grows?* Could another horror sub-genre based on generational differences take its place?
Loads of horror films already have youth facing murdering adults, notable examples being

  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • The Night of the Hunter
  • Halloween – Ok forget the first ten minutes

But unfortunately for many youth-led horror films, there focus on modern social issues goes as far as the latest underwear fashion…
To still be addressed in modern day horror is youth’s own fear of adults destroying our future, leaving us with nothing, not wanting change and for everything just to be as it is right here, right now.

After all, that’s what is happening within the real world.

*Oh yes old folk, the change will come. You thought you were scared when you saw The Exorcist – you haven’t seen anything yet..

My review of 2011

24 Dec



9 Dec

It is crunch time.

In the next 24 hours we will see whether the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) has the ability to produce something that can tackle climate change or whether governments are going to lock in horrifically low levels of ambition for the next 8 years until 2020.

But first lets remember what stage we were at, at the end of the first week of the 2011 UN climate talks.

This first draft text, contained nearly everything to do with climate change – this UN conference is seen to many as the end or the beginning of new climate negotiations – so throwing everything, plus the kitchen sink seemed to many as a logical step….

However there have been some bad boy countries ruining the whole process:-

Back in the day, Canada were seen as good folks within the climate talks – but then came Tar Sands and loads of money, as well as a strong opinion of wanting to kill off and walk away form the Kyoto Protocol

A dependency on a fossil fuels industry, really does lead to a one track mind on how much we should collectively as a planet, reduce our carbon emissions.

Saudi Arabia:
Have been a little bit quiet so far at COP17. However we can be sure that at the crucial moment – they will raise they voice and halt the talks from making significant carbon reduction targets

An odd country to be a bad boy, seeing as they hosted the original Earth Summit and next year will host Rio+20.
The thing is though, they are starting to side with the USA and are still tempted by the Amazon being  a forestry asset.

And what about the UK and EU? 

Both the UK and European Union are Kyoto Protocol lovers and have strong commitments concerning sustainability – the problem is they have just been too quiet – being more focused on financial issues and not leading international climate change action. which they both have the ability to do.

Over these last two weeks  – youth and civil society have been pushing for countries to take positive action on aspects like

Robin Hood Tax
and the Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement from the 1997 UN climate talks. It pushes for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (USA did not sign on)and its first commitment period ends in 2012.
KP does have it’s issues when it comes to effective climate change action; however Saving KP and pushing for a second commitment period, will mean that counties will still have a commitment to reducing greenhouse gases; instead of having a possible 8 year+ gap until another legal protocol or treaty could be made!

Canadian and American youth even reacted to their countries decisions, by taking direct action within the plenary hall – turning their back on their negotiator and speaking out of turn just to make sure they points about their own future were heard.

& the UK Youth Delegation?

In the words of Neva, the coordinator –

“The delegation are doing great. They’re legends”

and we totally agree with this statement – Check out the blogs, the photos, the videos and their tweets from the last two weeks
+ we must include Emma and Tom who have been in Belgium as part of the European youth event – Durban in Brussels.

The next 24 hours

All the big discussions will  take place behind closed doors  – so we don’t know exactly what will happen until they come out and make the announcement at some point tomorrow or on Saturday.

On top of that tension is mounting within the conference centre –  Security is jumpy and civil society is putting pressure on the negotiations.

It is a very tense atmosphere.

So keep up to date via our social media channels for all the information that we can gather and lets hope the negotiators finally understand and act on climate change

To be continued…

24 hours of Powerpoint

20 Sep

Last week Al Gore’s Climate Reality project, went live for 24 hours over the interweb; involving thousands of viewers and 24 presenters from around the globe. As it states on the website

 “The Climate Reality Project is bringing the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and engaging the public in conversation about how to solve it. We help citizens around the world discover the truth and take meaningful steps to bring about change.”

and it did. I saw a Powerpoint presentation which showed the facts and how climate skeptics get the facts wrong, there was also video containing footage from recent natural disasters and speeches focusing on the fact this is our one planet and we have to look after it.

Issue is , this presentation was repeated every hour…

I understand that we are a diverse world and we all sleep at different times plus speak different languages and for that, some things need to be repeated. However in my mind this opportunity of 24 hours of reality fell short of what it could of been.

  • Everyone has seen An Inconvenient Truth and everyone remembers it being very influential but also a long-arsed Powerpoint show. At times Climate Reality felt like an uncreative follow-up especially with its hourly repetition.
  • It was aimed at educating those climate skeptics and climate denialists that it is not sun spots, volcanoes or government conspiracy but real and you couldn’t help think it was also meant for those who live in the USA. (But wasn’t An Inconvenient Truth doing the same?) Now a question can be, how many of these types of people watched the event? was there any way of persuading them to watch it? or did it turn out to be a ‘preaching to the converted scenario’.
  • Also the live video feed itself did not give much more then hourly repetition of “climate change is happening and here is the proof via graphs and natural disasters, so now is our chance to deal with it.”  They was no bullet points on what can be done now on the large and small scale, what action was specifically happening in the host country or even a chance to donate to climate aid charities.
    Even though the website gives you links to action and you can donate to the project itself, though its not specifically aid.
  • The studio presenters in the USA seemed to be a bit on the botex-side and their guests were of the old/male/white type. Whilst the 24 presenters from the world showed more diversity of backgrounds and all came from respectable climate action backgrounds.
    Myself being 25, I just wished more youth were present, after all it is our future and the amount of incredible things some of us (predominantly woman) have achieved in our short lives makes us worthy of presenting with balding, bearded white guys.

Thinking of other global live events- Band Aid, Live 8 and Live Earth spring to mind and each has followed the live music concert set up and each Band Aid follow up (sorry Al Gore) has been less successfully.

A Climate Reality 2.0 really needs to not follow the same format and needs to step up a gear. You can’t yet again go into stating the obvious to everyone, you need to call for action, donation being one part but als0 creating the opportunity for it to be a real social media event.

People sharing local/national/international action of all types collaboratively using hashtags or simple maps – which could then be forwarded on to friends who live in those areas.

Using the 24hours to actually come out with a positive step forward. For example a collaborative statement. It can start as a zero-draft then via a wiki within 24 hours a global Climate Reality deceleration on what needs to be done.

Plus giving the webcast a more dynamic scope. It can start with the same presentation, but then has to flow onto a continuing narrative, making people want to watch the whole 24 hours (not in one go of course)

Any other ideas?

Also if Climate Reality or Al’ steal any of these 3 ideas I will sue you for trillions of chocolate digestive biscuits.

Youth of past present and future

14 Aug

In this video, around 3.40mins a young person states ‘The youth aren’t the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today.’

Not only that, this video is full of further statements saying that governments should act for our future, groups of people getting together to shout, Chant, annoy and protest for there to be great change. Problem is, this video is from the Earth Summit 1992
19 years ago, the same actions and concerns of today were being acted out. In a depressive way, you could conclude that we have not moved a single foot towards a sustainable future.

Next year Earth Summit 2012 will take place, where issues of sustainable development will be discussed (again) and just like in the above video, expect young people to tell it straight, governments saying the time to act is now and large groups of people chanting and maybe holding hands…
This may sound like pre-defeatism, but from a point-blank view this is how it looks.
Not everyone hardly anyone knows how far we have come since 1992. Especially when thinking about youth involvement.


When governments noticed that young people are important, are the future and are the leaders of tomorrow – there was still a focus on adults teaching young people skills and knowledge or arranging events. Whether they were paid or voluntary, this emphasis on engaging, inspiring and motivating youth like we were at school lasted until quite recently.
In fact you could say it lasted until those youth of 92 who were involved in the Earth Summit and who understood that we are the leaders of today, grew up into official adults.

Here is the theory:
Youth of the early 90’s involved in sustainable development found themselves in their working adult lives taking up those positions of ‘teaching’ a younger generation to be motivated, engaged and inspired. They used their own tales for this purpose; believed in us being the leaders of today and told us to go out there and just do-it ourselves and BINGO! – what you have is an increase in youth involvement, with little adult involvement.
Of course, this is not shunning all adults, we still need you to teach us complicated things, give us opportunities and network contacts.

However now a youth who wants to volunteer and get involved has the ability to search the Internet and find people the same age, discussing the concerned issues on a local/national/global scale. These youth may of even set up there own organization growing in numbers and totally youth led, they may even gain opportunities to attend youth congress’s, powershift’s, or UN meetings.

The best thing about this though – Us youth of today will grow up and be the adults

who turn around to the next generation and say you are the leaders of today.
We did this, you can go on and do so much more –  a pyramid scheme of influence leading to more youth getting involved at an early age, pushing all the issues connected to and involving sustainable development into the forefront.

We are on the cusp of all youth really, truly being the voices of not only the future but today.

Why youth will save the world with social media interaction, without having to go outside much.

23 Jul

A few weeks ago Google+ was launched, currently best described like this

It joins a long list of social media platforms – from the ones worthy of a movie plot-line to localised efforts.
In fact my toolbar is linked to 11 social sites that I constantly jump through to share, comment, rate, talk and read up on favourite topics.
It must be said that this time is also spent messing about, finding stupid, gormless, childish jokes, photos, videos and rage comics but still
The growth of social media and all of its wonders means its big business.

Which has meant companies all over the world had to create new ‘social media’ roles or hire social media guru consultants who basically say ‘create a Facebook page’ ‘here is how you use Twitter’ ‘connect with people’ in a professional manner with a powerpoint presentation. Because you know

Lets say your business is in a bit of a pickle and you need to resolve some issues, re-grow your image and make people have faith in you. Well what you need is a marketing campaign.

Involving creating content that addresses the issue and make your ‘fans’ feel like everything is back to normal and fine. It could be short statements on social media sites on how things are going or videos full of smiles, families and professional models pretending to be normal employed people and patronising statements along the lines of a mother saying to her child
‘No your silly dear, of course Santa is real’

This is where I bring youth in – from the stereotype of fat boys sitting at their computer playing WOW, to the real stereotype of face covered make up girls doing that odd duckface and taking a photo at an odd angle for their profile pic.
WE are obsessed with social media, because we are obsessed by being social.
The only reason I got an email back in the 90’s was to use MSN and chat to friends.

We have created content just to amuse our friends, shared our personally stories and created a following without having consultant meetings.
Also we don’t have to make our customers or loyal fans like us again, because as youth – we are yet to do anything wrong!

“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

Douglas Adams

As we grow up, making careers for ourselves (maybe some of us will become consultants, but cool ones) and become wise to the world via all the social media,
we can notice the bullcrap and really engage with what others our age are doing,
whether it is talking about Justin Bieber or aiming for future we want to live in-
via sharing links, petitions, news, campaigns; its contagious, it may even make us go outside a little bit – to socialise and grow those connections and change the world.

Check the social links of all these lot as a perfect example:-

http://www.cycan.org/                                                              http://ukycc.org/

http://juvente.no/                                                                     http://aycc.org.au/

http://www.ypwc.org/                                        http://energyactioncoalition.org/


So to sum it up youth are always on social media as we like to socialise, we take in what other youth share, we build on that into our adult life, youth are like diamonds in the sun and diamonds are forever.

This blog is taking from the Road to Rio+20 blog, for which I create and promote and stuff.

This happens more often then it should

21 Jul

“You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

30 Jun

VW: The Dark Side from Greenpeace in Nordic on Vimeo.

Join up via my Jedi page: http://vwdarkside.com/en/jedi/simon-howlett-5679

& you can see Episode II of the VW saga after you have done so.

May the force be with you.