UCL News


Seven Questions with... Xuan Zihan

5 November 2021

This week we meet Xuan Zihan, a UCL student and climate advocate with YOUNGO, the youth constituency of the United Nations. Here, he chats to us about working on a new climate policy document and his top recommendation for Japanese ramen in London.

Xuan Zihan

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) is a very interesting interdisciplinary degree that takes you from political philosophy and
international relations, to public policy and microeconomics. It’s not the easiest degree for sure, but a useful one for someone keen to enter the realm of diplomacy and the UN.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

This year, I am the Co-Lead of the COY16 Global Youth Statement, a climate policy document by youth and for youth.

The Global Youth Statement was drafted through consultations with more than 40,000 young people from more than 135 countries in the world, and will be presented to high-level guests at the COP26 Youth Headline Event, including COP26 President Alok Sharma, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, High Level Champion: UK Nigel Topping, UK Lead Negotiator Archie Young, and Italian Minister for the Environment Roberto Cingolani.

Our overarching demand, in line with my personal belief, is for youths to be actively and meaningfully included in all decision-making processes in climate governance. All of this would not have been possible without the support of my friends, colleagues, and mentors from UCL Climate Action Society, Sustainable UCL, and UCL Culture — I’m incredibly grateful for you all!

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

The rooftop area at the UCL Student Centre! When the going gets tough, some fresh air and quiet scenery is all we need. Who knows? You might even make a new friend through pure serendipity.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

  1. Street art and skating in Shoreditch;
  2. Kanada-Ya at Soho — Japanese ramen always helps!
  3. Spontaneous trips to Heathrow, a fascinating place of transit and catharsis

What’s one thing you’d like to see in a post-Covid world?

International cooperation — our future depends on it.

Who inspires you and why?

French philosopher Albert Camus and Czech novelist Franz Kafka, for their ruminations on existentialism and absurdity.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

Apparently, I didn’t look Chinese (enough) when I was born in the Former French Concession in Shanghai, so the nurses thought they delivered the wrong baby. Alors, it do be like that sometimes!