Paris, december 2015. A group of young Latin Americans talk in an empty subway car. Among them is Paulina Sanchez Espinoza, who comments about being able to sing a Brazilian song. The others ask her to sing. Then the 21-years-old mexican young woman releases her voice to chant the song Oração (“Prayer”) from the band “A Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade” (“The Most Beautiful Band in The City”). Paulina gets the attention of all the people in the wagon. Her sweet, clean and charming voice makes anyone believe there is a professional singer there. To the point that a French passenger heads up to her to give her a coin, thinking she was wanted to earn some small change with her beautiful voice.
However, Paulina is not a singer and she wasn’t in Paris to earn small change in the subway. Paulina is a young activist who went to Paris to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) and draw the governments’ attention to the role of children and young people in these spaces.
The story of this young woman started five years before, in 2010, when her hometwown, Cancun, was the headquarter for one of the COP editions. It was there, at age 14, that Paulina attended a lecture of the also teenager Felix Finkbeiner, young german that created the Plant-For-The-Planet NGO, while he was still a child, in order to involve children in planting trees to compensate the CO2 emissions of the Planet. “I was totally captured by Plant-For-The-Planet’s initiative, totally inspired by that project, and in that moment I got up and said I would be part of that”.
Since then Paulina goes around schools in her city promoting lectures, workshops, and planting trees with children, that after that become ambassadors of climate justice and assume the same commitment Paulina took when she was 14-years-old. The commitment of the young activist was recognized last year, when she was elected the president of Plant-For-The-Planet’s Global Board – a space composed by 14 children and 14 young people from around the world who participate in the decision-making of the NGO.
“What motivates me the most is to help people to be also more active and to have more awarness”, tells Paulina that, if not enought all the work she does in Cancun and the chair of the Plant-For-The-Planet’s Global Board, yet found time to help creating the Climate Strike initiative, in which children and young people also focus on pressuring local and global leaderships and governments to take real commitment on climate change.
Paulina believes that working with children and young people is a way to form a generation that will promote the necessary changes in the world. So she goes from school to school, from planting to planting, inspiring and forming future decision-makers of the world.