I am 19 years old, a student, and a climate activist from Buenos Aires, Argentina. When I started to understand that climate change is a social issue, and not just an environmental one, I switched my degree from Psychology to International Law. I co-founded Jovenes Por El Clima, a movement that talks about climate change from a Latin American and human rights perspective. In 2019, we successfully pushed to have the country declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency and to sanction the first Climate Change Law.
What are the youth in your region planning for the April global strikes?
We are organising a virtual mobilisation on the 22nd of April, Earth Day. We’re hosting a series of live streams on instagram, and lots of different socio-environmental movements and organizations will be participating, including some bands and musicians. We chose this day so Argentinian society at large would know that this is a day to protest for the Earth. Our mobilisation was meant to be a huge street protest, but we have managed to adapt our plans and we hope it won’t lose its impact.
What is distinct about the climate strikes in your region or country?
I think that in Latin America the climate struggle is very different from that of Europe or developed countries. We are a region where the exploitation of our land comes mostly from transnational companies, who take the money back to their countries and leave the environmental and social damage here. Countries that are already developed, have already generated an enormous environmental impact, but I think we now have the opportunity to design another form of industrialization because we see that this model did not work, and led us to the environmental and ecological crisis that we are going through. We have an enormous challenge though, which is to ensure that the environment is not seen as a threat to the economy.
It is also a huge risk to be an environmental defender in Latin America, sometimes people are risking their lives, and we need to change that too.
What do you expect to see from governments in the next year?
My greatest fear is that the climate crisis will be completely ignored in this time of a global pandemic. This is a key period before COP26, now rescheduled to 2021, where countries will present their NDCs (nationally determined contributions). From Argentina, I hope that the Escazú Agreement (an environmental human rights treaty) will be ratified, that waste incineration will be prohibited, that an adequate budget will be allocated to the Forestry Law, and that a just transition towards renewable energy sources, not more support of oil and gas, will come.