Two Sides of the Same Coin: A Youth Perspective on Climate and Social Crisis

The twin traumas of social and environmental crises are bearing down on citizens around the world, but political leaders lack the passion and ambition needed to address thelooming catastrophe. In some places, they lack even simple acknowledgement and acceptance. To get a better sense of what happens outside the walls of COP, ECO spoke with youth from Chile and Mexico, and their experiences show how stark the contrast is between the struggles of people on the ground and the attitudes of their leaders. The people in charge could learn a thing or two about working together from these youth.

What’s clear is that the climate crisis and the social crisis are two sides of the same coin, and need to be addressed together in order to fully be addressed at all.

Chileans are facing enormous challenges with their government. And because COP25 was supposed to be there instead of here, let’s hear from a Chilean youth as COP comes to a slow, unsteady end.

What the world, and even Chile’s own government, doesn’t understand is how most Chileans are alarmingly exposed to the disastrous effects of the environmental catastrophe. Because of extreme social and economic differences, the 1% live comfortably and ignore the social issues that affect the most vulnerable. People are waking up, but no matter how much they protest, the government is not listening.According to politicians, youth have no voice to speak with.

It is inconceivable that there is not a single drop of empathy from politicians who watch from afar while their own city burns to the ground and rots from the inside out.

In Mexico, being an environmental activist is a heavy, dangerous task. ‘Disappeared,’ ‘found dead,’ ‘gone missing.’ These are words and phrases that we see in the news every day. Chilling images under countless names — as much as one tries to ignore the headlines, fear builds in our hearts — is the risk, the fight, even worth it? How can anyone expect people to fight the climate crisis when their own safety is being threatened every day?

Fear and safety are boiling issues in this country. Mexicans face the displacement of millions, loss and extinction of species, and the segregation of vulnerable groups like women and Indigenous Peoples. All these issues are escalating on account of the climate crisis.

These are only a few of the ways people’s rights are being threatened, and it’s time for countries to address both sides of the coin. No one said leading a country was easy, but our leaders signed up for it. And now it's time for them to deliver.

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