Deniz interviewed Argentinian Climate Activist Florencia Linarez on her activism and current issues regarding climate change in both her hometown and global scale. Learn more about Florencia below.
Florencia Linarez is a climate activist who actively participates in ongoing events related to environmentalism and sustainability. She was selected as one of the 2022 Max Thabiso Edkins Climate Ambassadors (launched by the World Bank Group). Florencia is currently a Master’s Student in the Department of Environmental Management and Policy at Lund University. She holds BA in International Relations from Universidad Empresarial 'Siglo 21'.
Florencia, we are really excited that you are here with us today. We are so glad that you agreed to do an interview. We would like to know more about you. Could you tell us more about yourself and your journey in ‘’environmental activism’’?
Everything started with personal research about the topic and volunteering for Fundación TierraVida from Córdoba, Argentina. There I worked with environmental and climate education, as well as climate empowerment of young people. So I started working there, learning about what I could do. Later, I took several climate change courses, especially during the pandemic. And in 2021, I began to give conferences and workshops about the climate crisis and sustainability. Thus, I have already trained over 300 people on the topic. My most recent experience is in Gorizia, Italy. There I took part in Fridays For Future Gorizia, where I got more involved in climate activism in the streets. But my main background is in ‘’environmental education’’.
At what milestone in your life did you decide to become an environmental activist? What drove you to this situation?
It was a personal experience. I feel that a blindfold was taken off my eyes. I was in my last year of school, working on a project with classmates when we tried to print some documents, and the printer did not work well. It was quite a mess, we were getting nervous, and one classmate started to scream, “We are killing trees!”. At that moment, I realised that paper is not something that happens; it is a process that comes from trees. I saw that in school, I studied, but at that moment, I connected the dots: ‘’If we need more paper, we need more trees’’. I started to wonder about the environment, its impact, and its relation to our consumption.
You are originally from Argentina. In which area does climate change affect catastrophically most in Argentina?
Socially, it is a big issue because of inequality and poverty. Climate change deepens those issues. The main climate effects are ‘’heat waves, changing weather, droughts, wildfires, and floods’’.
Congreso de la Nación Argentina (The Congress of the Argentine Nation) approved a National Law of Comprehensive Environmental Education in 2021. It requires environmental education to be taught in schools at all age levels. Before this, environmental issues were taught only in the areas of technology and social sciences. What do you think affected this decision?
This law is going to unify the knowledge and topic they teach in schools. Until now, there was a personal interest from the teachers to teach these topics to their students. Not all the professors had the chance, the interest, or the resources to teach something outside the syllabus or program. In some schools, the kids do not have the proper heating or conditions to study. Therefore, you cannot ask for more than the basics there. However, if this comes from the government, it is more straightforward because they usually provide guidance to teachers.
Urban and sustainable agriculture practices are being executed properly (and holistically) in Rosario, Argentina, thanks to the efforts of the Municipality of Rosario. Are there any similar practices in Argentina that are trying both to find a solution to combat the adverse effects of climate change and to develop the welfare of the citizens?
I do not know a lot of processes or solutions. Probably there are A LOT, but from governments, sometimes it is not easy. For example, I do not know exactly if it is happening or if it is a project for the future. For example, in the city of Córdoba, people collect cartons from the street and sell them for recycling. That’s their livelihood. Now, the government is giving them the chance to work in a more formal and safer environment, cooperating with the waste management of the city.
Indigenous peoples are one of the main groups affected by the devastating events of the climate crisis. How would you evaluate the situation of the Indigenous peoples of Latin America regarding climate change? Are there any details you would like to share with us about the experiences of these people who are entangled with nature?
I believe they have a solid role in the development of climate action. They have strong and SUPER IMPORTANT knowledge about nature and ecosystems.
San Juan has a cute little museum about environmental education and climate change. The guide told us that before, in the same place, there was an indigenous community many years ago. They had a nature-centred vision, not human-centred. They believed they belonged to nature and were not more or less than the environment.
I believe indigenous communities in Latin America have a holistic perspective because they belong to nature. Hence, I think they have huge importance but are not valued sometimes. Nonetheless, they are getting a seat at the table, and we need more seats for them, not only in policies but also in the corporate world.
Do you think it is possible to protect nature by using Indigenous knowledge? Can sustainable environmental management be created by combining modern science and indigenous practices?
YES. They know nature more than anyone else and how to treat nature respectfully and in peace. I also think they have a lot of key knowledge and techniques for agriculture, cooking, and lifestyle.
You also lived in Italy for a while before moving to Sweden. If you were to make a comparison between these two countries on environmental awareness, what would you say? As a Mediterranean country, Italy is one of the countries that has been adversely affected by climate change. Are there any specific situations that you have experienced in this regard?
Italy is suffering heat waves and strong droughts. This makes a perfect scenario for wildfires. I experienced the heat waves, but the drought did not affect me directly. On the other hand, I moved from one city to other in July, and a few days after moving, the city where I was living had a huge wildfire. The heat was so high that a train sparked on the tracks, and a very large fire started and was deepened by the drought. The main city was not on fire, but the smoke covered the city for one week.
Concerning your opinion, what are the most important elements that need to be addressed in the fight against the climate crisis?
A just energy transition, especially because we need to cut emissions VERY fast while paying attention to providing green jobs for the future. Also, I think consumption needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. Lastly, I do believe that promoting international cooperation for sustainable development is crucial.
In which areas do you think there is inequality and injustice in the world’s fight against the climate crisis? If you were to make a comparison, especially between developing and developed countries, which elements would you like to change?
I think the main issue right now is international cooperation and sustainable finance. The Global South needs the money and the technology for climate action. The developing countries need this support NOW because they are on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
Lastly, could you please tell us your favourite plant-based milk? (It’s a tradition😊)
Coconut milk 😊
Read Deniz’s article on urban and sustainable agriculture practises in Rosario, Argentina, available here