Young voices, Chile: “We founded ojo.almedio for environmental education and sustainable practices”.

Filed by Benjamin Viveros. Fernando Novoa, Camilo Cea and Claudia Gonzàlez, all Chilean students in their 20s, were involved in social movements from high school, and through these activities, they all got engaged in the climate movement. Camilo tells about fight against water privatization and corruption; work to improve recycling, better public transport, and health insurance.

However, “many people, especially the older and the poorest, do not even know about climate change”, he says. Camilo has himself worked to educate older people in his own family. Fernando says he and friends started ojo.almedio, “a media platform in which we try to teach about sustainable practices.” He speaks proudly of a vegetarian barbecue he organized, not very common in a meat-eating country such as Chile. Both these boys are also supportive of organic agriculture.

Less water, more drought

Camilo, who often goes camping, has “realized that the water flows are less and less every year. 2019 was the driest year in Chile. Droughts and lack of snow are some of the problems we have and have seen through our lives”. Fernando, who has studied geography, has observed the destruction of wetlands: “These wetlands are incredibly useful for the climate, even though they are not protected at all by the law. This ecosystem, depending on the size may work as 500 trees capturing CO2, but we are swapping them for sand and buildings”.

As the two boys, Claudia is also from Santiago. When asked how she got involved in the climate movement, she says she remembers “watching videos and a documentary about the cattle industry, which made me immediately go vegan”, both for improving her health and for love of animals. She is also eagerly engaged in recycling whatever can be recycled.

Young people will start the change!

Claudia discovered Greta Thunberg some years ago through Fridays for Future: “I feel strongly attached to her and I feel really proud of what she’s doing. I really feel good when I see more and more young people fighting to protect the environment.

When asked about the main signs of climate crisis in her country, she says she has felt the temperatures growing high the last years and noticed the drought. “I always thought fires were pretty common, especially near Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, but now we can see them the whole year, not only in summer, and basically everywhere. The saddest thing is that the most vulnerable people are usually the poorest ones.”

The three students are not satisfied with the traditional media coverage of the climate crisis. They consider them very commercialized and observe their greenwashing of big companies. Thus, they resort more to social media, but also being aware of false information and fake news.

“We all recognize that the young people are usually the first to start a change”, says Camilo. “Both my parents changed their point of view because they watched me doing it first. Now I am proud of their behavioural changes!”