Spotlight on... Elli Lee
7 December 2023
This week we meet Elli Lee, Senior Sustainability Communications and Engagement Officer, Sustainable UCL. Elli chats to us about the impact of UCL’s Generation One campaign, what’s next on the sustainable agenda post-COP28, and makes a pledge of her own.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I lead Sustainable UCL’s communications and engagement programmes for staff, students, and external audiences, across Sustainable UCL and the UCL Climate Hub channels. My role is very varied, spanning projects such as communicating the UCL Sustainability Strategy, running behaviour change campaigns, launching the UCL Annual Sustainability Report, and currently managing UCL's COP28 climate campaign through the Climate Hub. I'm passionate about making sustainability accessible to everyone and demonstrating the impact of individual actions.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I joined UCL at the end of January this year, so I’m coming up to my one-year anniversary. Prior to UCL, I worked at WWF-UK, firstly working as a Corporate Partnership Manager for Sky, Next, Lloyds Bank and Liz Earle. This involved working with corporates to reach sustainability targets and running campaigns and conservation projects. After that, I worked as a Strategic Communications Manager and led WWF’s Walrus from Space project, as well as the launch of WWF’s flagship Living Planet Report, which is a study of trends in global biodiversity.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
At UCL, I’m proud of the current COP28 Generation One campaign which sees 20 UCL academics, researchers and, for the first time, a student representative, attending COP28. The aim is to turn science into action and to show the significant responsibility that universities play in driving change. Even if you’re not at COP yourself, everyone has the opportunity to get involved.
At WWF-UK, I am most proud of managing the WWF-Sky Partnership, which focused on protecting and restoring UK nature and oceans. In 2020 we ran an ocean campaign, which involved recruiting 250,000 ‘Ocean Heroes’ from across the UK to sign a petition to the UK government to commit to ocean recovery. We worked for 2 years with other NGOs, MPs, influencers, and supporters and alongside the campaign, developed a large seagrass restoration project in Wales. The campaign ended with a government commitment to 5 new Highly Marine Protected Areas.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list
After COP28 is finished, my focus will be on creating a communications strategy for our new UCL Sustainability Plan. As the current UCL Sustainability Strategy is coming to an end in 2024, there will be a new Sustainability Plan that will lead UCL up to 2027. I will be supporting the team in getting our message out there to as many audiences as possible, as well as starting to write the next UCL Annual Sustainability Report.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
One album that makes it to my Spotify wrapped every year is Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago. Other strong contenders would be The XX or Foals albums. Film-wise, I have too many to choose but Dead Poets Society and Lord of the Rings are up there. My favourite novel is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
As Christmas is coming up…
What did Santa do when he went speed dating?
He pulled a cracker.
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
This is quite a random mix, but people I admire and are great storytellers… my grandparents, Robin Williams, Brene Brown, Akala, Louis Theroux, Miriam Margolyes and Adele.
What advice would you give your younger self?
No one cares what you are doing as much as you think! Be kinder to yourself.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I’m booking a skydive for my 30th birthday. Now I actually have to do it!
What is your favourite place?
My favourite place I’ve ever travelled is Japan, for the scenery, the food, and the amazing people. Closer to home I would have to say East Devon, for my hometown and beautiful Jurassic coastline.