Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW) may be over, but it has left us with great messages that our #YouthTakeover team was able to capture throughout its social media coverage of all the various online sessions. The four young women who made up the team—Brianda Jiménez Bolívar, Fernanda Casados Prior, Ignacia Páez Cruz, and Valery Salas Flores—share their final reflections on their amazing experience below.
Brianda Jiménez Bolívar, Colombia
Covering LACCW virtually was a real challenge. We thought that the online nature of the event would save us time, for example in moving from one place to another, and this was true. However, we soon realized that we’d have to spend that time on other tasks, such as keeping an eye on the agenda, tracking the speakers who were going to speak, connecting faces to names to be aware of the most relevant contributions, drafting our social media messages, reviewing them, and finally publishing them.
It was a week of great conversations. The achievements, agreements, and challenges of each country in the face of the climate crisis were all put on the table. There is undoubtedly much work to be done, but exciting changes are about to happen thanks to joint efforts. The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has great challenges to face. Although LAC’s contribution to emissions is minimal compared to other parts of the world, the region is one of the most vulnerable. This is due not only to its geographical location’s susceptibility to natural disasters, but also to pervasive social inequities. Climate change is intersectional, and it demands an intersectional response.
Working as a team was key. Our #YouthTakeover group of four young women was in constant communication with the Connect4Climate team to develop the week's coverage. There was great coordination, and we all supported each other, contributing key ideas and refining one another’s inputs. I learned a lot about how to communicate complex climate information through social media in a friendly and engaging way. Undoubtedly, the last day's Instagram Live was the golden brooch with which we closed the coverage. We were able to interact with each other in an organic discussion and share our experiences and reflections. The best part of the experience was being able to make our voices heard, setting an example for other young people seeking to contribute, in some way, to the goals of climate balance.
Fernanda Casados Prior, Mexico
Being part of a #YouthTakeover at a time like this—with the whole Covid-19 situation and the virtual nature of everything—I was expecting dampened motivation from the participants and reduced ambition in the talks. Happily, it was nothing like that! I enjoyed every minute of the week and was pleasantly surprised by all the important messages that were given through the sessions. Seeing all those people from Latin America and the Caribbean join together to fight climate change and open themselves to new solutions and fresh perspectives on the #RoadtoCOP26 was out of this world. That kind of united energy is why many people, including me, get up every day and continue to fight for a sustainable future and find new solutions.
I learned a lot in the span of this week. It's really important for people to immerse themselves in these kinds of events, because it gives you many valuable perspectives on what is really happening in the world and opens your eyes to the movements and positions each country is embracing. Above all, it gives you ideas of solutions to implement in your own country. I am happy to know that our #YouthTakeover itself contributed to the framing of the Climate Week LAC agenda and that we got to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. It was great to learn that so many people representing so many different communities are involved in the push toward a better tomorrow. Without question, I know the Pre-COP and COP26 will be very diverse and that the region of Latin America and the Caribbean will be well represented.
This week makes every effort I have ever made feel worth it and motivates me to keep learning and inspiring other young people to get involved in these opportunities. It’s up to all of us to make our voices heard and be the young people who fight for the present and the future.
Ignacia Páez Cruz, Chile
Like many young people in my country, I was very disappointed when the venue of COP25 was changed from Santiago de Chile to Madrid. We missed out not only on a chance for young Chileans to talk in our own country, but also on a unique opportunity for the thousands of young people in Latin America as a whole to finally speak for themselves on their own continent. This year’s Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week, whose outputs will feed into COP26, finally gave me a chance to engage at the level I’d been hoping to then.
Learning and getting to know others was what motivated me to participate in LACCW, and participate I did. I joined many talks, listened to the great ideas of many exhibitors, and drew inspiration from the initiatives of young people from across the region. I got to hear about the steps in the right direction some of our leaders are taking as well. But what I valued the most was the opportunity that Connect4Climate gave me to collaborate with them and with others my age to share my ideas through the #YouthTakeover. Despite the distance and how chaotic everything was through a screen, the C4C team members were always guiding us, teaching us, and helping us to improve. They valued our ideas and motivated us every day with a smile that crossed the screen.
I felt that this week our voice was heard. C4C let us be protagonists and motivated me to continue learning and participating in events that I once thought were by adults for adults. I was wrong! I learned that it is our duty as young people to take ownership of these initiatives and stand up for what we believe in. Our fresh perspectives are an asset when it comes to driving great changes, not a liability. We are the ideal age to fight for our planet, because we are the future. We are the last generation with the opportunity to change history, and we cannot miss any chance to shout, to fight, and to demand. This is no time to “be patient”—we are running out of time to act on climate. We have to be ambitious and take advantage of every instance to speak, learn and build upon one another’s ideas.
Valery Salas Flores, Peru
I started the week expecting to listen to very technical talks on the #RoadtoCOP26, but I was pleasantly surprised at how accessible the many messages of climate ambition in the region across all the sessions really were. I enjoyed and learned a lot this week, where we as young people were able to lead a #YouthTakeover and contribute to the #ClimateWeekLAC agenda in the side events. We got the chance to engage with proposals, studies, and solutions for our region that are easily actionable. I am happy to know that climate ambition is coming from different directions, sectors and actors. If this commitment continues, I have no doubt that Pre-COP26 will be auspicious, with a multisectoral, diverse, and intergenerational approach that will translate into strong climate leadership from the LAC region and beyond in the COP26 negotiations.