When she talks about her childhood, bolivian Lorena Terrazas quickly remembers the summer at her grandfather’s home. “He was a person from the country side, lived in a very peaceful environment, and therefore there was no trash and everything was very well organized”. Organization and cleanliness are issues that drew the attention of Santa Cruz’s young woman, who changed schools several times throughout life, until she got to a nuns school where she had to follow many rules, including keeping everything clean.
But Lorena rescued these memories during University, in the International Relations course, where she had her first contact with the issue of Climate Change. “The subject caught my attention and it was there that I realized everything was connected”. At the same time Lorena started working as a volunteer with Bolivian indigenous people. “It was the way I found to return to my roots, which are indigenous”, she says.
When trying to give voice to the indigenous people in international spaces, in 2011 she got funded to represent Bolivia in COP17 – United Nations Climate Change Conference that took place that year in Durban, South Africa. Before going she went through communities and took to the Conference the position of Bolivian indigenous people on Climate Change. Lorena defines the COPs as “a door to see what happens in the world”. In Durban she could connect with youth networks around the world and then spread her message.
If there are those who are pessimistic about the results and effectiveness of the UN Climate Conference, Lorena is always optimistic. She sees the participation of civil society as a determining factor in decision making. “What many people don’t know is that the COP is an all-year work. It is not just an event; it is also following up many meetings throughout the year, knocking on the governments’ doors, lobbying, protesting and then see some results at the Conference in the end of the year”.
Since Durban, Lorena has participated in two other UN Climate Conference in Lima (2014) and Paris (2015), but her current commitment is in a much more local scale. Lorena is one of the founders of Pazinde – Rede Paz, Integração e Desenvolvimento (Peace, Integration and Development Network) where she is focused on two main projects: the first is social-environmental monitoring with indigenous people. “The Guarani people live in an area with many natural resources, including gas. We help them to monitor these areas to ensure that they are not being exploited”. The second is the simulation of Climate Conferences with young Bolivians. “The UN has a training methodology to the COPs where people only simulate the role of governments. In our work we insert another characters in the simulation, including civil society”.
This year she is also starting a survey with indigenous women and climate change. “We want to understand how these women are seeing gold exploitation in their areas, and we want to help them to make a community adaption plan to deliver it to the governments”.
Lorena believes that the civil society must participate in the governments’ decision making. For her living with young Bolivians and the indigenous people of her country is a great learning experience. For the future she even imagines herself involved with political positions to take the voice of these groups into the government’s structures. “For me working with climate is that. It is holistic and universal. It is environmental, it is political and it is social. And I want to show it to the governments”.