Lo que está sucediendo hoy en Nicaragua es inaceptable. El número de muertos, la violencia y las protestas siguen aumentando. Más de 300 personas han sido confirmadas muertas, 1500 heridas y 203 secuestradas desde abril de este año. No solo las personas han sido masacradas, intoxicadas y secuestradas, sino que también se están incautando tierras, y los recursos básicos como alimentos y medicinas son cada vez más escasos.
My first month of work ends and I’m excited to share some of my reflections! As the Earth Charter Youth Projects Coordinator, my main responsibility is to motivate, guide, and engage young people to create a more just, sustainable and peaceful world. What is the best way to do this? I think the beauty of this position is the flexibility and creativity the job requires.
I have the ability to incorporate my passions and interests to expand and create new opportunities and stories. I’m excited to bring my passion for visual media and writing to collect all Earth Charter Youth actions and stories that are taking place around the world. As an ocean advocate, I would also like to continue sensitizing my community members on the importance of taking care of our ocean ecosystems!
Since leaving St. Edward’s University to continue my MSEM degree (Master’s in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development) I’ve had a wealth of incredible opportunities. The second half of my degree was finished at L’Université Catholique de l’Ouest (UCO) in Angers, France. Some of the classes I enjoyed most were Urban Ecology/Sustainable Cities and an Environmental Ethics class. In our Environmental Ethics class my eyes were opened to the growing environmental injustices present today within a gender related context. In many countries women are vulnerable to environmental injustices and inequalities simply because of their roles at home or because they make lower wages than men. In this class we spoke about Naomi Klein's book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate. After this class, my colleagues and I were inspired to form an eco-book club to read the book together and discuss topics throughout the book.
For the past few months, I’ve been working remotely with the DC-based International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Global Gender Office (GGO), supporting several different projects related to climate change and gender issues. The IUCN is an intergovernmental organization compromised of 1,200 members, more than 200 government and more than 900 non-government organizations. The GGO provides technical support, policy development, and innovative approaches to ensure gender equality is a central focus to these global environmental solutions.
I’ve never been a fan of zoos or animals in captivity but recently; I was able to see a slightly different side of this idea while visiting the BIOPARC of Doué la Fontaine outside of Angers, France during a field trip in my Biodiversity class.
One of the major problems with animals in captivity is that their normal development of their natural being is completely disturbed at all levels. They are affected by extreme boredom, anxiety, lack of exercise, and poor quality of food especially in poorly run zoos. With my beliefs in mind, I was not too happy to go to the BIOPARC. Surprisingly, I was able to open my mind to a different perspective during my field trip.
Near the Loire Valley, this zoo was built into a sedimentary rock quarry providing a very natural experience with waterfalls and vegetation for the animals as well as open air for the birds to fly around in. All of the animals kept here were born into captivity and never brought in from the wild. Some of these animals are currently being reintroduced into their natural habitat and monitored over a period of time if they seem fit to survive. If many of these animals were not kept here they would probably be extinct or near extinction today. With over 1,000 animals from 123 different species, the BIOPARC only houses endangered species or species belonging to vulnerable habitats. 41 of these species are on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species (International Union for Conservation of Nature), classified as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. Nine of their species are Critically Endangered, which is considered the most endangered species in the world. The rest of their species are among the Near Threatened or Least Concern group.
Many of these animals are perfectly happy and healthy in their environment with full time attention from staff, veterinaries, balanced diets, maintenance, and enrichment but sadly I also saw other animals such as the wildcats that obviously did not have enough space. When we asked our tour guide about this issue, she mentioned this was something they are currently working on expanding but with little space left to build, it has been a difficult task.
One component I really appreciated that the BIOPARC takes part in, is the involvement of human populations. The park assists and supports local organizations dedicated to the preservation of endangered species and valued natural environments. With their belief in a strong relationship between man and animals, lasting conservation projects can be successful. Without raising awareness on why it’s important to protect these species and their environment, there would never be opportunities for our future conservation pioneers.
There are obviously still many zoos across the globe that vary in the standard of care they provide for their animals and what their general purpose is. Although I am still skeptical about many of these zoos, I also think it's important to try to mimic the natural habitat of these vulnerable animals as best as possible in order to prevent their populations from extinction. There is never a perfect solution in conservation that’s what makes so many of these topics extremely controversial and very hard to handle. I encourage you to think about your own views and opinions and write to me or to your friends for suggestions and for thought provoking conversations on matters such as this one.
This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to tour around the beautiful state of Texas with Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) coastal, inland, and wildlife, biologists, project managers, and many other TPW professionals. As a Digital Media intern in the Executive Office at Texas Parks and Wildlife, I had the chance to document and experience each division, participating in various projects and initiatives and communicating all of it back to you in an exciting way! I traveled across Texas from Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas Panhandle documenting the new campsites being built to open ocean trips in the Gulf of Mexico collecting data on sharks and other marine species. l documented the stories of many people at Texas Parks and Wildlife who love what they do and who are amazing at what they do because they put passion and dedication into everything they do in order to conserve and maintain Texas' rich biodiversity and ecosystems. Check out my video below summarizing the various projects I was a part of this summer!
As SXSW Eco concludes, I hope other students went home feeling as inspired, motivated, and hopeful as I did. This annual conference brings innovative companies and organizations from around the globe to create meaningful discussions centered around the protection and improvement of our environment through innovative business solutions.
Those of us in the Environmental Management and Sustainability Master’s program at St. Edward’s were fortunate enough to win tickets by enrolling the most students in the National Wildlife Federation’s EcoLeaders online community.
The conference was an incredible opportunity for students to learn more about some of the top environmental and sustainability organizations and businesses, such as sustainable agriculture, green start-up businesses, ecotourism, film companies using media as a tool to raise awareness, and many more. It was also a great way to establish professional contacts and ask your most pressing questions to the experts in the area!
SXSW Eco welcomed Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic’s Explorer-In-Residence and Ocean Explorer as well as Dr. Ernest Moniz, US Secretary of Energy as the keynote speakers of the conference. Dr. Sylvia Earle is one of my idols and having the opportunity to see her speak as well as personally meet her was an experience I will never forget. Her continuous efforts to save and protect our oceans and marine ecosystems have inspired me to become an ocean advocate and to encourage others to become active in the protection of our Earth’s vital support system.
The after parties sponsored by Plastic Oceans Foundation, PBS, and NatGeo Wild were more great opportunities for students to network and connect with other student and professional environmental leaders around the world.
A profound quote that left a lasting and thought provoking memory in my mind was from the last panel I attended- Nature is Speaking Campaign, a series of videos put together by Conservation International, to raise awareness that people need nature to survive. Peter Seligmann, CEO of Conservation International, stated that we need to wake up to the fact that when you go from 7 to 9 billion people, with fisheries collapsing at an alarming rate, with the extinction rate higher than ever before, starving people, and wars being waged over water; billions of people will be displaced and causalities will follow. It’s time to put our self-interest aside and have meaningful conversations, engage with one another, and come up with viable solutions for our rapidly changing environment.
I believe that this is the essential core of what SXSW Eco is all about. It is our turn to give ourselves a chance of survival. It’s only natural for man to want a cleaner, healthier, and safer world for us and for our future generations. We need to act now, while we still can.