Eco-Warrior Profile – Why This Young Activist Is Afraid For Her Future

2 weeks ago
July 31, 2020
By: Santiago Rodriguez Tarditi

Take a walk down memory lane and remember what you were doing at 19 years old. If you’re like most of us, chances are it’s nothing remotely similar to what Anuna De Wever is doing at that age. One could even argue that her experience goes way beyond a number. Behind the kind eyes of this Belgian human rights activist is a seriousness that results from plenty of experiences she’s garnered in just a few years, including working in the European Parliament, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to the Amazon rainforest, leading a global online climate strike, and giving a TED Talk.

Anuna isn’t your typical teenager—and she surely won’t be your average adult either; as she grows, so does her message. Her cry tackles the ecological crisis through a lens that’s rarely considered: the fact that even if its impact isn’t apparent, it’s happening to millions as you read this piece. “People are dying because of climate change. And it’s happening right now,” she says. “I have a responsibility to manifest in an active way. When politicians minimize climate change and they put through useless policies, subside fossil fuels or agree on trade agreements like Mercosur, it’s murder.”

Her words aren’t to be taken lightly; one can perceive a sense of the gravity of her quest in each of her social media posts, even if most of what she does is behind a desk or on the streets and not online. “I barely watch Instagram or any social media. I try to be educated through different kinds of sources but social media is really not my strong suit. It’s hard for me to invest time in things that are not activist related because what we are doing is urgent, it matters, and it makes a difference.” Anuna prefers to focus on Fridays For Future, something she’ll have to learn to balance with her Social Science studies, which start in Fall 2020. 

Teachers should be advised: as long as there’s still a climatic catastrophe looming, Anuna will skip class every Friday to protest against the politicians who deny the issue. “I am afraid of my own future. I seriously am. I am also afraid for people I know and friends of mine who are already facing huge challenges because of climate change”, she says, while putting her own situation into perspective. To her, the most pressing matter in this scenario is “the inequality. The human rights issue. The fact that people are dying right now. Climate change is not a future problem. Maybe for privileged people, but the whole global south is facing extreme challenges right now. The weakest have the heaviest burdens.”

Despite the gloomy zeitgeist overhead, Anuna finds ways to remain positive and sees the current pandemic as an opportunity to rebuild our economy, society, and planet. We must begin to see the connection between the way we’re consuming Earth’s resources and how it’s affecting other humans across the globe. “Not caring about climate is not caring about human rights. It’s basic empathy that’s needed here. It starts by informing people about what is actually going on. And making them believe that they are a part of it too; we have the power to change.”