International 11/11/2021

12-year-old climate activist calls for children's voices to be heard

Francisco Vera's eloquent "pro-life" speech does not go unnoticed at COP26

ARA
2 min
Francisco Vera in Glasgow. 12-year-old Colombian boy calls for children's voices to be heard

BarcelonaIn the many interviews he has given, his eloquent and strong political speech on ecology is shocking because it comes from the mouth of a 12 year old child. Francisco Vera is a Colombian activist and founder of the environmental movement Guardianes por la Vida (Guards of Life). A new voice representing future generations. With thousands of followers on social networks and active in several mobilisations, he has now taken a step further by attending his first UN Climate Summit, the COP26 in Glasgow.

Always claiming the voice of children as active members of society with criteria and "with rights", his speech in this forum has gained worldwide echo. He has asked adults to listen to children when it comes to building the world they will inherit. "It is necessary to include children, who also have critical thinking, very structured arguments and a different way of thinking from that of adults", he explained in an interview with Efe.

His debut was in the Colombian Senate in 2019 when he was only 10, when he was invited for his awareness-raising work in social networks aimed at children. There he gave a speech asking to become "aware of the evil we have done to the environment" and urging politicians to legislate "for life". His speech was even praised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. In several interviews he explains that when he was only 7 years old he became interested in animals and their preservation, and that is how he became fully involved in the world of environmentalism, which he now champions.

Now he has participated in his first COP, and it has not gone unnoticed. He has met the most emblematic face of climate change activism, Greta Thunberg, and has confessed that she is a great reference for him and an influence in his "work". Despite knowing that his following and his opinions have been heard by his thousands of followers, he confesses that he has not felt listened to "directly by governments", and affirms that when he grows up he will listen to children, "because that is what adults have to do".

According to him, those who turn a deaf ear are the same people who continue to ignore the environmentalist ideology because "they think it is just another story, like those who think that covid is just another story", and others who put "their economic interests" above it. Even so, he is determined to make his voice heard wherever it is needed, and during this COP he delivered a letter to Unicef written by the movement he leads, Guardianes por la Vida, calling for "real and ambitious action".

Raising awareness among other children

Francisco Vera has visited more than 200 schools because, as he makes clear in comments on his Instagram profile, "environmental education is education for life". That is why he tries to make his speech in defense of biodiversity and against the threat of climate change reach everyone. Vera stresses that the climate crisis affects "those who are least to blame", that is, children, and therefore considers that they have a great responsibility, because it is about their own future.

Francisco Vera, who wants to become an astrophysicist and defines himself as a "democrat", intends to continue fighting to put an end to the climate crisis, which he considers a matter of "life or death".

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