Using engineering to plan for a better world
Carolina Navarro Armenta is a renewable energy engineering student from Tijuana who will attend COP28 as a youth ambassador in Mexico’s official delegation, with support from the Climate Reality Project America Latina and the Global Environment Facility. In an interview, she talked about how she hopes to blend her passion for social impact projects with her engineering knowledge to make a difference at the negotiating table.
What is your area of focus?
I’m a passionate and determined 21-year-old woman. Throughout high school and currently now in university, I have participated in projects focused on sustainability and organized activities to encourage people from my community to join the climate action movement.
I was the president of TerraVita, a student group focused on climate action. I also supported the reactivation of CETYS Zero Waste – the university’s sustainable waste program – and I was a subcoordinator of the university’s social impact leadership program, called FORTES. In addition, I was selected as a 2022 Millennium Fellow, a UN Academic Impact leadership development program to develop social impact projects, and I’ve been chosen to be a youth climate ambassador with the Mexican delegation to COP28 in the United Arab Emirates.
All of this was done to help me accomplish my goal of becoming an engineer who works on sustainable projects and, at the same time, motivates others to have an environmentally responsible lifestyle.
When did you become interested in environmental issues?
Since I was a child, I’ve loved nature and tried to help to improve environmental issues in any way that I could. My favorite movie as a child was Avatar, years later it was The Lorax. It took me years to realize that those two movies were my favorites because in them, people took action against their environmental crisis.
I live in a highly populous area with the busiest border with the United States, significant international migration, and on the coast with the most polluted beaches in Mexico. When I started to get involved in addressing these challenges, I learned that individual actions really do matter because they have an impact on others, yet collective actions are needed in this crucial moment because they’ve a greater impact. It is fundamental for young people to be part of the group that makes decisions and to be climate change agents. We are full of energy, passion, and innovative ideas, and we can be an example to follow.
What message do you have for today’s political or business leaders?
Climate action is a priority on the international agenda, yet progress has been minimal. Before making any political or business decision, remember what’s at stake, remember all the benefits of the huge changes needed, remember that the window of opportunity to limit global warming is closing. Transformative decisions are needed now.
Why is it important to you to be in the negotiating room at COP28?
I believe that there is no better place to continue my activist journey as it relates to climate action than being in the negotiating room at COP28. This is an incredible opportunity for me for several reasons. It will expand my knowledge about the political and business decisions involved in fighting the climate crisis. It will make me part of the group that makes decisions. And it will allow me to be an example to follow for other young people – I want future generations to know even if they are kids, their actions matter.
What issue are you most focused on related to the climate negotiations?
In COP28, I’ll be mostly focused on the negotiations regarding “just transition;” which is the effort to meet climate goals by ensuring the whole of society is included when moving toward a net-zero future. This inclusive approach is needed to ensure that we are generating prosperity for society without leaving anyone behind. I am focusing on this issue because of my background as a leader of social impact projects and as a student of renewable energy engineering. The engineering community has a lot to contribute in this space and it is of high importance that we never forget the social focus.
How do you spend your free time?
I like to exercise, spend time with my friends and family, listen to music, watch movies and read. I also enjoy yoga, swimming, painting and drawing. I am a very social and caring person who has different interests and likes to try new things.