Sustainable voices

Penelope Lea

Penelope Lea

What was your a-ha moment that made you become engaged in sustainability?

I don’t know if it was one a-ha moment that made me engaged in sustainability and children’s rights. I started working with this when I was around 8. I started because I love life, and I love to live it, I love the birds, the oceans, the forests, the people, the peace. And what I love, I want to fight for. I want to fight for all the things that cannot fight for themselves. Since I was a little kid, injustice has made me so angry. From politics in the world to things at my school. And the climate crisis is injustice, really unfear. As in almost all other crises, it is the people that are already most vulnerable, that gets hit hardest, and the most. Climate justice has always concerned me. We will never reach an equal and fair society without a sustainable society. I started reading and researching when I was 8. My family and I have always been close to the forests. Whenever I feel scared or angry or confused, I walk in the forest, and since I was a little kid, my brother and my mom have been watching David Attenborough’s documentaries. When I watch them, I feel like it is a huge amount of wildlife in the world. And so many crucial species that we might not know about yet. So much to take care of.

What is your single best tip for someone who wants to do more for the environment on a personal level?

Use your voice. Speak up. Research, and try to learn, read the science. I believe education is crucial in a democracy, to make it work. Education is one of the main keys to solve the crisis, I believe. And we need to communicate the science and the facts without manipulation and hidden agendas, not to earn fame or money. Just to make people ready, just to communicate. The climate movement is and has been, a huge movement for a long time now, but still, we need more people to participate. It is our job as people and citizens to put pressure on those in power. To both take and give power to the change we need to see. I started reading and researching when I was 8. My family and I have always been close to the forests. Whenever I feel scared or angry or confused, I walk in the forest, and since I was a little kid, my brother and my mom have been watching David Attenborough’s documentaries. When I watch them, I feel like it is a huge amount of wildlife in the world. And so many crucial species that we might not know about yet. So much to take care of.

What do you think will be the legacy of your generation?

Courage, willingness to act, to speak the truth about the climate-emergency. To stand together. We have a global affiliation, a commitment towards each other, that I believe is different.

What will this breakthrough demand from us as a society?

First of all, a lot of changes in the way we live, in our daily lives. And of course, changes in the way we think. I believe the resistance for the change we need to see to take care of each other and the earth, is a bigger problem, and harming a lot more, than the actual changes ever will. I believe the changes we now need to see will make life better for us, on so many levels. I think we will be happier as a species, as a society. I believe we need to make the most vivid and strongest picture of the world we want to live in, smell it, feel it, walk in it, to make it come true. One thing I believe we need to change is our way of thinking about the meaning of growth. I do not believe in eternal economic growth. In our society growth has been the main goal for a long time. Consumption rises. It is a cornerstone of the political and social structures of most of the world’s countries. But I believe that goal needs to change. At least for the rich countries, like mine. Norway. Maybe the goal instead can be quality of life, and love.

What is your company’s most impactful contribution to fight climate change?

I am not part of a company. As a UNICEF ambassador, I work with a special focus on climate change and children’s rights. UNICEF helps people and children that get affected by climate change every day. They work for children's rights and then also human rights and for a better society. I have got friends from all over the world. Friends that already feel climate change every day. It is not a future for them, its present.

What makes you climate positive about the future?

Because we know, we can change! If we have to (as we do) and are willing to, we can. We have seen this also thought the COVID 19 pandemic, as well. And I believe my generation has built a strong relationship between each other, a strong and common sense of belonging and affiliation between each other. This way of thinking, this sense, is crucial, I believe, and it makes me positive.

Photo credit

UNICEF Norway

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