Paloma Costa has a law degree and works with indigenous peoples. She spoke with UN News about actions against deforestation, decarbonisation and combating the climate crisis, in addition to the participation of youth in initiatives that promote the conservation of the planet and humanity. She read the full interview with Eleutério Guevane.
UN News: Paloma Costa is an environmental activist Brazil. In addition to several other areas in which she is involved in the country, at the United Nations she is a young adviser on the secretary-general's panel on climate issues. Paloma very welcome. We are here after several promises global leaders regarding the acceleration of climate action. How do you see this dynamic, on the way to Glasgow at COP-26.
PC: Look, being very sincere, I was very disappointed with the outcome of yesterday's summit. I think that, once again, the world had the opportunity to commit to really efficient goals and objectives for us to deal with the impacts of the climate emergency. And to see countries, for example like mine, that arrived and did not present anything new, no ambition, no will and to go ahead and face the biggest challenge that we face as humanity, that sincerely disappoint me a lot.
ON: And does Paloma see that there can be more action?
PC: Well, as a member and representative of the youth movement, I have seen a lot of potential in the actions and things we have been leading. For example, we started this climate education program here, which is called “it's the climate”, with the aim of bringing climate education here, it is no longer available here in our country, for public schools, for favelas, for communities and to territories because talking about climate today is talking about life. As I was talking about in the previous answer, I am disappointed because not only youth groups, but also indigenous peoples and quilombola communities and civil society in general, have come up with so many solutions that perhaps it is what inspires the most in the fight for the climate.
See the creativity of the solutions and, even so, even with this dossier of available solutions that are already happening, often without the necessary support and without resources or any structure, but that still the world leaders go to a space like the summit of leaders for the climate that happened yesterday and are not really committed. For me, hope is there in youth and in thinking that uniting us more and more, we will, in fact, be able to influence some decisions that are so important that they were happening in a different and inclusive way to Glasgow, so that we could really take a step forward in the fight for the climate, but we will see.
ON: In your last conversation with the secretary general, you said that there is one more crisis, which is the failure to keep promises. Can you explain it better?
PC: Well, it is because when we think about the way our social structure was built, as a whole, we were building and we have been debating, for so many years, issues such as the inclusion of Human Rights, an effective citizen participation that enable an integrated social ecology, which is based on education and access to information, part of a reforestation process of an awareness that are super possible projects to happen.
But in this other wave, which I am talking about, and I mentioned, for the Secretary-General, that this is the fourth crisis, that of our structures and the lack of promises, this has a lot to do with what will define the next years for us as humanity. Either we choose an inclusive, collective option, a coalition of all global citizens, or we will be choosing our own extinction as humanity on this planet.
ON: You just talked about a reforestation of conscience. I would like you to explain this concept a little better to me ...
PC: I learned this concept Matsipaya Wauja Txucarramãe. He is the grandson of chief Raoni Metuktire, who is one of the great indigenous leaders in Brazil. And he is a singer. I helped to create a movement that is called liberate the future. For him to talk about what it means to liberate the future, he made a song that is about reforesting thought a narrative of an ancestral future.
For us to learn, for example, with leaders like Raoni, what is it like to resist? How is it to keep the forest upright and show that the upright forest is much more valuable than any monoculture or livestock that comes to invade our world. I think that the idea of reforesting the conscience comes precisely there: the fact that if we are conscious enough, we for example come a region like Latin America, we will unite and fight for a forest standing. Because autonomy has always been and always will be the standing forest.
ON: The question of Amazonian preservation is always raised in major national and global environmental events. Pairto close this conversation, you spoke before creative initiatives. Any example?
PC: Yes, absolutely. I think I'm going to tell you a little bit about that period, the pandemic to bring a solution that really inspired me. The pandemic is certainly being very difficult for all of us as humanity.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I, who work with indigenous youth who are in the territories, was very distressed because I could not communicate with them due to the access to the internet.
And then, through a collective process, we managed to take the internet to some villages. I can be in touch with my friends. Many people here watching the news every day, around the world, were questioning me about their health and their existence in the face of so many invasions in the territory. One cannot help but notice this chaos.
When I finally managed to talk to them, it was so beautiful to see what they were doing: that it was a community gardening process. They wanted to continue with this movement that we started before the pandemic of engaging youth in the climate and socio-environmental agenda. And the way they found it was to learn how to make traditional gardens with their elders, to learn them, and to bring this awareness of activism, the agenda and the socio-environmental agenda to the part of youth engagement in this garden.
And they were so advanced thinking about how to take this food to help the populations of the neighboring municipalities, that there was not so much access due to all the restrictions of the pandemic. For me, listening to an initiative like this one, regenerative, and that brings value in the whole process. I started to have a lot of hope.