Day 1

Explore and appreciate the diversity within the Commonwealth and hear from a senior Commonwealth leader who will share with the group the values and ideals which unite the participants.


Investigate power and collaboration in the city through visits to organisations across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, deepening the participants' understanding before presenting their findings to city leaders.  

Day 3

An in-depth challenge briefing, mapping out the issues and planning their investigations. Visits to organisations and communities connected to the challenge and meeting experts in that field.


Day 4

Reflection on the programme so far and masterclasses led by experts to ensure the group can articulate their experiences and present their solutions to the challenge.

The Presentation

On the final day of the programme the participants will present their responses to the challenge to Commonwealth Sports Ministers, International Development Ministers or Heads of State who will be gathered for the Commonwealth Games.



What role does the youth of the Commonwealth need to play in progress toward low-carbon economies?

A low-carbon economy uses sustainable forms of energy to actively avoid or offset greenhouse gas emissions[i], which some experts say contribute to global warming, predicting drought, rising sea levels (fewer islands and land mass), and an increase in extreme weather[ii]. Though these theories are continually debated[iii], reducing the reliance on natural resources remains a priority for world leaders since with global energy demand ever increasing[iv], future generations need sustainable energy alternatives.

The low-carbon agenda began with the first Earth Day in 1970, yet there was little progress before the UN’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol[v]. In 2000 the UN’s 8 Millennium goals[vi] included goal 7[vii], environmental sustainability, to “integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources”. But as the target date of 2015 draws close, global carbon dioxide emissions have actually increased by more than 46% since 1990[viii].

33% of the world’s population lives in the Commonwealth; 70 countries dispersed across the globe varying in economic, climatic and political make up. GDP ranges from just under US$40Million to US$2.4Trillion[ix]. Where natural resources have dwindled in some economically developed countries, demand has helped other markets such as Nigeria and India[x] to rapidly emerge; growth requiring political, social and cross-sectoral focus to find a sustainable balance of energy demand and economic progress.

Scotland is known for its focus on this. Renewable energy generates over 40% of Scotland’s electricity consumption[xi], its wind resources are 25%[xii] of Europe’s total and a range of renewable sources such as hydro power and biofuel are increasingly being utilised. But beyond Scotland, despite international will to move toward low-carbon economies in principle, targets fail to be met and practical solutions are scarce. How can young people, raised in a world already aware of this issue, work together across a range of geographical and financial landscapes to form innovative solutions to a problem they now have no choice but to tackle?

The cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh - and leaders from across the Commonwealth - will provide the context, information, knowledge and inspiration for you to propose solutions and ideas to tackle the challenge. At the end of the four days your solutions will be presented to a panel of leaders who will give you feedback on how to take your solutions forward.

[i] such as carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases
[ix] World Bank 2012 figures

The participants’ projects in response to the Challenge demonstrated a determination to educate young people and promote behavioural change as well as to involve them on a practical level in taking positive steps towards low-carbon economies, to benefit the environment and young people personally.

Short videos of the pitches can be seen in our Media section, and the ideas generated are also outlined below. If you are interested in helping the groups develop their ideas, email us at


An educational programme that will teach young people (aged 16-25) how to create their own green enterprises which will contribute to a low-carbon economy.


An app which measures your carbon footprint and gives you incentives to reduce it. The app will tell you what your carbon footprint is, help you reduce it, reward you for making a difference and empower you to create low-carbon economies from the palm of your hand.


Educating and empowering the youth of Glasgow to develop a passion for the environment. Youth-on-youth projects and workshops, challenges, and a celebratory #G festival will educate young people on how to make a positive impact on the environment.


Aiming to create a network of young leaders across Scotland to drive forward the low-carbon agenda. Committees in each of Scotland's local authorities would work on the specific challenges of that community with local businesses, schools, colleges and universities. A national panel of representatives would work with the Scottish Government and Youth Parliament to drive forward key issues.


This project aims to bridge the disconnect with and lack of respect for the environment and Earth’s resources. Through activity based education in a school environment, young people would be taught about green principles, through the Curriculum for Excellence, by green mentors.


This project aims to attract STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students to jobs in the environmental sector through something that everyone can relate to – waste. University students would go into schools to demonstrate ways that waste can be reused, e.g. turning milk bottles into light bulbs or smart phones into videogames.


What would it take for you to go barefoot? This project aims to make people question why they treat the streets differently to how they treat their home, where they wouldn’t question being able to walk barefoot. The idea is to do a green activity whilst barefoot, take a photo, and upload it to social media with #BarefootMovement. There would also be a website and social media presence providing information, best practice and tools to be part of creating a low-carbon economy.


This project uses the idea behind dating websites to solve environmental issues. Companies whose mission is not solely low-carbon related but who want to be greener often have knowledge gaps in how to do this. This website would allow organisations to list themselves, say what they are looking to do, and be matched with experts and organisations who can help them to develop innovative solutions in partnership.


This project would bring 16-25 year from the further education sector, community groups, and Jobcentres who are motivated by low-carbon aims into high schools. Here they would teach students about low-carbon issues, and enable project based learning. The high school students would then go into primary schools and share their knowledge and enthusiasm on a peer to peer basis.

Interested in helping the groups to develop these ideas? Email


  • Adam Askew Head of Public Education, Comic Relief

  • Adrian Carnegie Noise and Vibration Consultant, Sgurr Energy
  • Ahmed Adamu Chair, Commonwealth Youth Council
  • Alan Ferns Director of Communications and Marketing, The University of Manchester

  • Alan Smith Global Head of Risk Strategy, HSBC

  • Alastair Brown Head of Sustainability, Glasgow City Council

  • Alison Grant Partner, Commercial Insurance, DWF

  • Amali de Alwis MMRS, Thought Leadership Manager, PwC
  • Professor Anne Anderson Vice Principal and Head of the College of Social Sciences, The University of Glasgow
  • The Right Hon. Baroness Scotland of Ashthal

  • Christopher Morgan Deputy Counsel General, The Weir Group
  • Colin Foote Head of Power Systems, Smarter Grid Solutions
  • David Milton Head of Fundraising, Association of International Cancer Research
  • Dr Deborah Benson MD, Leaders for Leadership
  • Elaine Melrose Director of Resources, The Wheatley Group
  • Ellie Bird Chief Superintendent, British Transport Police, and Patron, Vision Africa
  • Francesca Osowska Director, Commonwealth Games and Sport, Scottish Government

  • Graeme Hamilton Innovation and Online Services Manager, The Wheatley Group

  • Guy Holloway Programme Officer, Commonwealth Foundation

  • Jane Morrison Green Co-ordinator, SEPA

  • Jill Fenton Centre Manager, Home Energy Scotland

  • Sir John Elvidge Chair, Edinburgh Airport and Chair, 33Fifty Advisory Group

  • Judith McNeill Grants Director, Comic Relief 
  • Laura Campbell Partnership Officer, Changeworks

  • Laura Copley Low-Carbon Behaviours Development Officer, Young Scot

  • Mairi Allan Head of Schools and Community Education, British Red Cross
  • Mark Williams Climate Change Manager, Scottish Water
  • Martin Valenti Climate Change and Business Engagement Manager, SEPA
  • Martyn Evans CEO, Carnegie UK Trust
  • Mel Young Founder, Homeless World Cup
  • Mhairi MacLeod Managing Director, Lux

  • Michael Hart Creative Director, The Union

  • Nick Cole Partner, Blonde Digital

  • Norman McKinley UK Director, The British Red Cross
  • Paul Gray CEO, NHS Scotland
  • Robin Corbett Partner, DWF

  • Rod McMillan  Investor and Business Development Consultant
  • Sarah Smith University Secretary, The University of Edinburgh

  • Shabana Naz Owner/Editor, ID Magazine
  • Shona Robison MSP Cabinet Secretary, The Commonwealth Games and Sports

“The inspiration that I have gained from this program will genuinely motivate me to act. Learning from others has also shown me just what is possible when you surround yourself with great people. I don’t doubt that this will have a lasting impact on my life both professionally and personally”

Alexander Clayton, Great Britain
33Fifty 2014