'It is time to make a change'
Almendra Cáceres is an environmental engineer from Peru who will be part of her country’s national delegation to COP28, with support from the Global Environment Facility and Climate Reality Project America Latina. In an interview, she talked about the need to prioritize (and adequately fund) climate action to protect both biodiversity and human life.
What is your area of expertise?
I have a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Peru. In 2018 I started working as an intern at Libélula, a climate change and communications consultancy, and I currently serve as project manager executing projects relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation, corporate sustainability, and climate finance and transparency. During my professional career I have conducted multiple studies of organizations’ carbon and water footprints and have also calculated mitigation scenarios and designed environmental management plans and sustainability strategies.
When did you become interested in environmental issues?
When I was 12 years old, I first heard the term “climate change” and my life changed completely – all the dystopian books I read went from mere fiction to a very possible reality. The curiosity I felt as a child led me to choose environmental engineering as a career, and the passion I developed for generating collective action led me to become a climate activist.
Peru is one of the 17 megadiverse countries that contain most of the planet’s biodiversity – and climate change is putting our ecosystems and communities at risk.
As a climate activist, I've taken part in local, national and global advocacy. I’m the current national delegate in the Peruvian Youth Collective against Climate Change (JPCC). I’ve also contributed to the Peruvian Youth Declaration through Local Conferences of Youth Perú. I also took part in the process to develop the Global Youth Declaration presented at COP26, and I helped with the constitution of the youth steering group for the National Commission on Climate Change.
What message do you have for today’s political and business leaders?
We are living in a climate crisis. It is time to make a change. We need immediate action, we need you to listen to science, for every delay exacerbates the problem and limits our options.
We need you to involve young people in the decision-making processes - our perspective and passion can catalyze innovative solutions and ensure policies resonate with our concerns and aspirations. We don't need more commitments and words without action.
Raise ambition, take concrete action, work collaboratively on a global scale.
Why is it important to you to be in the negotiating room at COP28?
It is important for me because I want to represent the perspectives and concerns of all young people in Perú. As a young activist, I believe I can provide valuable insights into young people's perceptions and urgency regarding climate action. It is also an opportunity to strengthen my capabilities. I can then share my knowledge with other young people in order to empower them to advocate for their beliefs and engage with decision-makers, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility for the planet's future.
What issue are you most focused on related to the climate negotiations?
Climate resilience. Article 9 of the Paris Agreement highlights the importance of providing financial resources to developing countries like ours, ensuring a balance between adaptation and mitigation. However, the current state of financial support favors mitigation, leaving adaptation efforts underfunded. The 2022 Adaptation Gap Report estimates that adaptation needs are 5 to 10 times higher than international adaptation finance flows, and this gap continues to widen. Although Perú is still working on a consolidated Climate Finance Strategy, the National Adaptation Plan has identified the financial needs to implement 51 out of 92 adaptation measures. More finance is needed to meet our climate goals and binding commitments with the UNFCCC.
What do you do in your spare time?
Beyond the realm of environment and climate change, I am a writer. My passion is focused in writing short stories with themes of suspense, nostalgia, and murder mysteries. And I am proud to have contributed to the publication of four anthologies, and have participated in Lucha Libro, a literary improvisation contest that encourages creativity, and also searches for new literary voices and talents.