Continuing our coverage of the Alumni Awards, presented at the University’s Alumni Gala Dinner in June, we have the second of three Rising Stars of the Year – Walker Darke!
The Rising Star field was jam-packed this year, leaving us no choice but to award it to three worthy winners. One of these winners was Walker (BA (Hons) French / Music 2016) honoured in recognition of his contributions to global carbon neutrality. As Lead Researcher in the United Nations Economic Commission For Europe, his extensive work on sustainable policy development has made lasting change that has seen Walker named in the Social Impact category of Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe.
We spoke to Walker post-event to get the scoop on his next moves.
What does winning this award and coming back to CCCU mean to you?
Winning this award is an incredible honour. Being nominated alongside so many talented alumni from CCCU was already a real privilege. Sharing it with two other winners doing great work in the legal and medical fields, CCCU alumni are making waves across all areas! It was inspiring to hear about the great work everyone is doing. The future is bright.
What is next career-wise for you?
CCCU helped me underline the importance of academic achievement, and I haven’t stopped there. I’m moving into the final stages of my PhD in International Politics & Diplomacy at Fudan University in Shanghai, where I am researching good practice in sustainability policymaking.
In my work at the United Nations, I’ll be looking forward to upcoming international climate negotiations, COP28. Key topics of focus for me include implementing sustainable resource management practices such as the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources, and promote the scale-up of financial aggregation to reduce the cost of financing – for small-scale, low-carbon energy assets in developing countries.
I’m also looking forward to contributing as a CCCU Futures Mentor.
Winning this award is an incredible honour. Being nominated alongside so many talented alumni from CCCU was already a real privilege. Sharing it with two other winners doing great work in the legal and medical fields, CCCU alumni are making waves across all areas!
In terms of reaching carbon neutrality, what can we as individuals do to make difference?
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time – and it will continue to play a role in other contributing to other crises such as health, migration and inequality. Policies and proposals to reach carbon neutrality are ready for governments and industries to enact – and change must come from the top. Nonetheless, individuals can join the process and engage with climate negotiations in many ways, such as YOUNGO – representing young people in Climate Negotiations. There’s also the newly launched UN Economic Commission for Europe’s Youth Working Group on Resource Management.
And, out of interest, do you still play music?
Although I don’t play as much as I used to, I got back into it during the pandemic. I actually performed at Eurovision 2023 as part of the recorded backing choir for Daði Freyr’s song ’10 Years’ representing Iceland. I/(We?) finished a highly respectable fourth!