After a whirlwind first full day of the Tour, we welcomed a free weekend spent exploring the many facets and boroughs of the amazing London. Over the two days, the sights covered included: Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Victoria & Albert, Tate Modern, the Natural History museum, Regent and Oxford Streets (aka: a shopper’s paradise), Harrod’s, the sets of Sherlock, a West End play and for some even a (supposed) chance encounter with Jamie Oliver in Covent Garden…
In preparation for an exciting final day in London, Monday morning started with a 5am wake up for the delegation in the calm suburb of Hither Green. We finished packing, had breakfast and went through the day’s briefing, before heading off to the train station with all our luggage. A maintenance issue for the train system meant that the trains we were trying to catch were the first of the day. This made for a very cramped ride into the city (in other words, a proper representation of London public transport).
Somehow we managed to arrive at the UN Global Compact right on time. Our meeting commenced with Steve Kenzie – one of the staff members at London’s local network for the UN organ. We were hosted in an art gallery featuring 60s style Bond art, which gave a very cool vibe
At the meeting, we were introduced to all the work that the UN Global Compact does, being exposed to the facets under the branch of business sustainability. The UN Global Compact have helped to create resources including the SDG Compass and SDG Navigator. This allows companies to align their strategies with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). We were about to play an SDG board game that UN Global Compact had prepared for us, but the presentation had left us with tonnes of questions. Personally, I left the meeting with a greater understanding about how sustainability in businesses can be realistically achieved.
The lunch break provided us with another chance to savour the pinnacle of English cuisine: the mighty Tesco three pound meal deal. This was perhaps the most picturesque snack spot yet. We consumed our cheesy tomato pastas and San Pellegrino in the middle of Trafalgar Square. The Square provided a multitude of ideal Instagram snaps; revelations on the secrets of levitating Yodas (thanks Maddie), and some mightily aggressive pigeons.
All this conquered, we headed around the corner to New Zealand House where we were greeted by the comforting sound of some classic Kiwi slang – we had indeed found our home in central London. Daniel Taylor of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise gave a short talk on the function of New Zealand’s trading scheme. He also gave strategic overview of our NZ’s strengths and pitfalls in various international markets. His specific focus was the UK – the area over which he has jurisdiction. An in-depth Q&A session followed and Daniel discussed everything from the potential impacts of Brexit on New Zealand trade, to the expansion and diversification of our exports.
The delegation was then fortunate enough to meet with 3 representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who discussed extensively their roles in both the UK and on a wider international scale. We notably learned that New Zealand has a significant amount of political influence globally, with our recent term on the UN Security Council reinforcing this. Specifically, their explanation of our role at the forefront of both the Commonwealth and Pacific region was important as we look forward to the influences New Zealand can have upon our implementation of the SDGs.
The meeting ended with a trip to the penthouse including an extensive balcony. Even the perfectionist ‘Grammers were satisfied with an incredible, 360 view of central London. Our brains and camera rolls full, we thanked our hosts and departed for Luton Airport – luggage in tow.
Exhausted and excited, we left London eagerly awaiting our time in Copenhagen, and the continuation of what is shaping up to be a truly life changing tour.
– Antoine Ellis and Casey Brown
The Global Development Tour takes young New Zealanders to see cities leading the charge on the Sustainable Development Goals. The trip culminates in attending the Youth Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, a conference that aims to transform vision into action – empowering young people to apply all they know into meaningful change in their communities. Read more…