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Youth Voices, Unfiltered


Scroll through to see young people's take on the global climate emergency, and the work that they are doing to fight against climate change.
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Path to Climate Justice by Paloma Costa

I think people don't become environmentalists, they are born as it.

Because to be an environmentalist defender and dedicates yourself to it, you have to have an immense sense of empathy. Empathy to you, to other people and to the world you live. Since I was a kid, somehow, I knew the importance of preserving our Forests. This was a feeling much deep in my heart that I don't even know if it's possible to put in words. I always said to my mom that I wanted to "save the Amazon".

As I grew up, I started finding ways on making this happen. And along this way I always remember something that I once read: "hay que salvar la Amazonía porque en su pueblo está el futuro de la humanidad".  This was the first truth I heard about a Forest that only in 2017 I met in person. First, I started studying Social Science to try to understand how indigenous communities had this cosmovision of the world that are based on a way of living that protects the world around them. This was the first step to understand that developing a whole Nation, while you are protecting and respecting the Forest, is the only way to do it. After, I started studying Law and now I am graduating. I decided that because as an activist I want things to be solved fast, so I believed that by studying Law I could contribute better. During my Law studies I started an internship at Instituto Socioambiental, the biggest indigenist organization in Brazil. Now I still work there as an advisor at the Law and Politics program.

At ISA, I have the opportunity to be learning and working and growing alongside the authors I was previously reading that were experts on themes like: land-use, indigenous and traditional rights, indigenous lands and protected áreas. So since my first year at the Law faculty I learned personally with the guys who were working with the theme since the beginning and since the writing of Brazil's constitution. But this was still taking too long. As an activist, who can not wait the time that politics need to be held, I  was introduced to Engajamundo. A youth-led organization that believes that by changing yourself and the place around you: you can change the world. Well, since I met so many young activists who were feeling just the same urges as me, I started believing I have always been on the right path and that we just needed to meet each other. And everyday, with not that much support, we achieve, step by step, so many good things for us young people and to the world.

Now I dedicate myself on educating other youths, discussing the climate agenda on the Congress, which I am close with. We created a program on climate education, we wrote our youth demands for the climate and every Monday we raise awareness and build joint projects, activism and ideas to postpone the end of the world. But as I understood that the answers needed have always been on traditional knowledge and as my best friend is the most bicycle activist I know, we joined our abilities and created Ciclimáticos.

In the beginning of Ciclimáticos, I truly wanted to document how vulnerable communities were adapting and doing so much brilliant ideas to survive the Climate Crisis. There is so many good, simple and actionable ideas out there, that it does not makes sense for us to not be putting them as public policies. So I wanted to document them to somehow, insert them as Law projects or public policies. And the Best way to find solutions is with searching it with less emissions we could right?

So we bike to document solutions and we believe that with our bike and phones, the most simple way, it can be no excuses for putting this solutions out there as policies. But, along the way we understood that besides filming solutions we would also have to film how people were being impacted by the climate crisis. Because we still have negationists in our country and in decision making positions. This makes me deeply sad, to understand that we know the solutions needed, that we have a lot of technologies that can be applied.. but still, for no reason, we don't use them. Now I dedicates myself to more than 4 jobs because I cannot stay ok in this world, doing my own stuffs, knowing that people, my friends, are suffering with their lives because of the destroying of the forests, bad politics.. etc.. it's our world, we should be out there doing our best to protect it.


About the Author

Paloma Costa is a law student at the University of Brasilia who lives in Brasilia, basis of the Brazilian government. She coordinates the working group of Climate Changes in the Brazilian youth-led organization Engajamundo, hosting online meetings every Monday to raise awareness about the Climate agenda and co-create projects and action strategies with our volunteers. She is currently leading two projects: one about Climate Education (Educlima), where she developed a methodology to apply in public schools seeking to insert it on the National Common Basis of Education, and the Brazilian youth demands for the Climate. Inside Engajamundo. She is also coordinating Brazil's youth delegation to COP25 and COY15. She currently works as an advisor at Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) on matters that deal with social-environmental rights including: indigenous people, traditional communities - as quilombolas, land-use issues and forest peoples economy, working directly with the Congress agenda, influencing on policy making processes. She is also working closely to the coordination of the Law and Politics Program of the Institution, learning about funding and coordination of projects. Paloma is the co-founder of Ciclimáticos, a collective of bicycle activists that documents the impacts of the climate crisis and how these affected communities in Brazil are adapting. She is doing an internship at the Juridical Clinic of Human Rights of the University of Brasilia - JUSDIV (Juridical Office for Ethnic and Cultural Diversity) and a part of the Abu Dhabi Youth Voices Working Group. Paloma was a part of the Brazilian official delegation to the 24th UNFCCC's Conference of the Parties (COP), coordinating the youth representatives, attended the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting as part of the youth delegation and coordinated the Brazilian youth delegation for UN LAC Climate Week in Salvador and for the Youth Climate Summit in New York. She was co-chair with Mr. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Greta Thunberg on the opening of the Climate Action Summit.

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Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth supports all young people and their diversity in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Reach Not Preach platform serves as a safe space for all young people to share their take on the topic of climate change. The views expressed in the Reach Not Preach platform are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and the United Nations.

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