Getting involved no matter where you are
Climate change is happening, and we all need to contribute to tackling the problem if we want to limit its impacts. Over the last few years, I have studied on the East coast of the United States and have participated in various platforms where I have met many people who care deeply about the environment and climate change.
Living and studying on the diverse east coast of the US, I had more interfaith interactions than I had ever had in Germany, giving me a real sense of what it means to be part of an interfaith community. I received insights into the climate advocacy work of local faith communities as well as civil society organisations. My classmates and I organised an event on “Interfaith Cooperation on Climate Justice”, where I was excited to explore the topic from a Hindu and a Jewish perspective too and to immerse myself in the scripture.
I was also able to stay involved in various climate talks and to amplify youth voices at the international level. For example, I participated in a High-Level-Meeting at the UN Headquarters on “Climate Change and Sustainable Development for All” and also at the UN climate conference in Katowice in December 2018 (COP24). In these spaces, it has become clear that young voices are starting to be heard and appreciated, and this is a notable achievement of the efforts of many youth around the world.
The power of social media
The various experiences that I have had have allowed me to connect with many motivated young climate activists. Through social media, we have remained in touch and continue to plan projects and exchange ideas together. I have also noticed the growing movement of school strikes taking place around the world and the demands from youth calling for political change. Seeing the pictures of hundreds and thousands of students taking to the streets gives me hope that the fight against climate change has not yet been lost. Although I often regret not being physically present to support or participate in the strikes, I have been able to contribute by speaking with my congregation on my experiences at COP24 and exploring ways to improve sustainability in our church.
After the year in North America, my studies have brought me to East Africa (Kenya), where I engage with the Catholic Youth Network for Environment Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA), organisers of the 2nd international “Laudato-si” conference with UNEP. This conference brought together hundreds of motived young people (mostly from Africa) who care for the future of our common home. There is hope that change is coming, and while young people care and are taking action to care for our home, a significant change will require all of us to adjust our lifestyles and consumption patterns.
I encourage everyone to engage in climate initiatives, our efforts are indeed making a difference- we are influencing each other, the world and politics at all levels and you too can be part of the change. It is on us to ensure that there will be a present and future for us and for generations to come. Virtual engagements make it possible for us all to be part of a movement even if we are miles away from home.
Get involved – no matter where you are.
Helena Funk is studying Theology and completing a Master’s degree in African Studies. She has been engaged in climate justice advocacy for many years – on a local level in (Northern) Germany and a global level as a member of the LWF youth and ACT Alliance delegation to COP23 and COP24.