Amplifying frontline voices at COP26 – Roxana Borda Mamani on climate justice and representation

Guest Author

A brown person wearing shorts and a red long sleeve top stands underneath a large tree in a rainforest.

The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region is on the frontline of the climate crisis. Each year natural disasters push between 150,000 and 2.1 million people within the region into extreme poverty

Despite disproportionately experiencing the adverse effects of climate change, communities within LAC and the wider Global South are consistently sidelined within climate discussions.

Greenhouse is proud to be supporting and sponsoring Unite for Climate Action, a group of young activists campaigning and crowdfunding to ensure LAC activists can go to COP26 and make their voices heard on a global stage. 

In the first of a series of three interviews with Unite for Climate Action members, we spoke to Roxana Borda Mamani, an activist from Haiti, on how the climate crisis affects them, why they joined Unite for Climate Action, and what they want to see from global leaders at COP26.

When did you become a climate activist? 

I have considered myself a climate activist since I was a teenager, but I never dared to raise my voice. This changed in 2017, and with greater force in 2019, because the Brazilian Amazon was in flames, there were attacks against Indigenous peoples and deaths of environmental defenders, and the repression of mining and logging communities was rising.

How have you been/how do you think you will be affected by the climate crisis?

The earth is tired. Rising temperatures, droughts, and seasonal variations make it impossible to grow crops well, such as corn, which now requires irrigation. My family had to move to another community, and from there we continue with the cultivation of our farm. We are small family farmers. Climate change affects and will affect us in agriculture, food security and sovereignty, loss of flora and fauna and water scarcity. 

Why is representation so important at COP26?

Because we, the youth, are the present, and the actions we take or don’t take now, will determine our lives. Besides, Indigenous youth are the guardians of our territories, food systems and languages, and as such we are the strategic allies to face the climate crisis. Nothing about us without us; we have to be there and now.

Why did you join Unite for Climate Action?

I identify with the cause and members of Unite for Climate Action. I joined via their project Building Bridges for Climate Action and it was a great, well organised and inclusive project. It is an environment full of goals, support, opportunities and cooperation, where we all can contribute and work as a team. The members are great people, very active. We are from different countries and that makes U4CA stronger.

What will you do if you’re able to get to COP26?

It is my first experience, and I will participate in as many spaces as possible, especially in the decision making tables, through contributions, opinions and to see possibilities of support for indigenous youth. I also want to find support for sustainable projects that benefit vulnerable communities, such as access to energy, water, food security, agricultural development, and research.

“Soon we will be fighting for water, land, food and energy. Let’s not wait to get to that point.”
Roxana Borda Mamani

What is your message to global leaders at COP26?

We need concrete actions, now; Leaders need to seriously commit and opt for sustainable alternative solutions, and reduce their pollution. They need to support vulnerable regions with sustainable projects, financing directly with the locals. Remember that the Latin American and Caribbean region is the sustenance of the Global North in raw materials, and we are at a breaking point. We are depleting our resources and extinguishing our flora and fauna. What you see is what little we have left. We need to stop this system that is driving us towards a total depletion of our resources. Soon we will be fighting for water, land, food and energy. Let’s not wait to get to that point.

If you want to support Roxana Borda Mamani and Unite for Climate Action in their mission you can donate to their Crowdfunder here and follow their journey to COP via the Unite for Climate Action social media channels. 

To read more on social justice within the climate movement, check out our blog on  Reclaiming Our Time, a grassroots campaign celebrating black environmentalists. For more on how the Global South is disproportionately suffering the effects of climate change, read our piece on how rich nations are failing to protect the Global South from Climate change.

If you are a climate justice organisation looking for support with PR or digital work, get in touch by emailing info@greenhouse.agency