Focusing on climate change for Paraguay's future
Camilo Daniel Maldonado Cabral is an environmental lawyer from Paraguay who will join his country’s delegation to COP28, with support from the Climate Reality Project America Latina and the Global Environment Facility. In an interview, he shared why he is headed to Dubai with a focus on loss and damage mechanisms for climate-affected states.
What is your area of expertise?
I have a degree in public policy and environmental law, and continue to do coursework in governance and public management. For the last five years have worked at the law firm Estudio Caniza, providing legal advice across multiple areas. My main area of focus relates to the ways public institutions can impact environmental activities, such as through administrative and judicial proceedings. I hope to build a career focused on designing and implementing environmental policies for the benefit of Paraguay.
When did you become interested in environmental issues?
My awareness of environmental issues started early. I was raised to show deep respect for natural resources, especially water. My first contact with the COP was my aunt who participated in COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 as part of the Paraguayan delegation and upon her return, shared stories and anecdotes about the event with me.
As I grew up, I became more aware of the climate crisis and how it is impacting Paraguay, for instance through extreme events such as floods and droughts. I began to understand how environmental issues are key to the development of a country like Paraguay and that in the development, design, and implementation of public policies, we must factor in the changing climate as something fundamental.
What message do you have for today’s political or business leaders?
The message I want to take to decision-makers in Dubai is that it is time to face the climate change challenge with all available resources. We are facing a threat to our species and to life as we know it. It is time to put social and cultural differences behind us and finally on what really matters. We have the possibility of reversing what we ourselves have caused. We owe this to future generations, to our children, our grandchildren, and all life on Earth.
Why is it important to you to be in the negotiating room at COP28?
For me this is an enormous opportunity to represent Paraguayan youth. Being in the COP28 meeting rooms will be a truly special experience for me professionally and personally. I am sure that it will be a major milestone in my life and I look forward to using my time there for the benefit of my country.
What issue are you most focused on related to the climate negotiations?
The topic I am most interested in is loss and damage. Paraguay is a small country that does not contribute much to carbon emissions, but it is highly vulnerable to severe weather events. Our economy is based on agriculture and livestock, so climate phenomena directly affect the economy and local communities. Loss and damage mechanisms, and especially funds, are essential to help small countries like mine counteract the negative effects of climate change that are of increasing concern.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love sports in general and especially soccer. I am a fan of the Cerro Porteño club in Paraguay and I am a follower of European clubs. I like to play soccer, watch professional soccer, analyze it, and talk about soccer.
I also love to travel and getting to know new cultures. I am extremely interested in getting to know the world. I am also enthusiastic about national and international politics. I am fascinated by astronomy and technology. I like to keep myself informed.