Climate Activist of the Month: Q&A Series with A Youth Climate Activist
Name of Activist: Chatten Bion Abrera
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become passionate about the climate crisis.
My name is Chatten Bion Abrera, I’m 15 years old and I’m an aspiring climate activist as well as a child rights advocate from the Philippines. I’m part of the Red Alert Climate Spokespeople group and BERT Team or Batang Empowered and Resilient Team of Save The Children. I’m also the Male Child Representative of the Regional Sub-committee for the Welfare of Children Region VI in the Philippines.
I started being aware of what climate change is, how it’s affecting our planet, and the living things in it when I witnessed and experienced the effects of climate change myself. One of the worst experiences was when Typhoon Haiyan attacked my community in 2013. It was traumatizing, and many people, especially children, died as a consequence of it. I then decided to be a part of the solution and do something, but I didn’t know where to start.
One day, Save The Children visited my school to hire students to become members of the BERT team. When I first heard about the opportunity, I didn’t think twice about joining. Raising awareness on climate change was one of their advocacy goals and it excited me.
Since then, I have worked hard to become a climate activist and child rights advocate. It's been a great journey for me as I was given the opportunity to empower other children through what I learned from Save The Children, especially about child rights, climate change, and disaster and risk reduction management.
In 2020, Save the Children Philippines reached out to me again to join the Red Alert on Climate campaign. The campaign aims to call on world leaders to take immediate climate change action. It's a pleasure for me to be part of this group because I have the opportunity to share my voice with children and youth leaders from other countries in Asia.
Advocating for climate justice makes me happy and I’m always open to any climate activism initiatives. I want to end all the suffering that people, especially children, are already facing due to extreme disasters worsened by climate change. I also want everyone to have a brighter and sustainable future. I want to do something meaningful to serve my community and give people a better life where they are free from disasters.
2. How has the climate crisis affected children and youth in your country?
Climate change has increased the number of extreme disasters in my country. I can’t forget those years where we experienced La Niña and El Niño that led to extreme droughts and heavy rains as a result. It has affected our food production, water sources, and much more.
In times like these, children and youth are the ones who end up being affected the most. When disasters like typhoons and heavy rains hit our country, our education is always disrupted. School buildings are destroyed and classes are suspended for days, or even weeks. Climate change has also caused the death of many children and youth, food insecurities as well as malnutrition among vulnerable communities, a phenomenon that can also be seen in other countries outside of the Philippines too. The scariest thing is that these are just some of the effects of climate change; there are a lot more.
Basically, the rights of many children in my country are at risk due to climate change.
3. How do you see the role of children and youth in campaigning for climate justice?
Children’s and youth’s ideas and voices are extremely powerful; hence, their participation is needed to tackle climate change. Fortunately, many children and youth nowadays are already well informed about their rights and other social issues. This is clearly visible as many movements and campaigns are now led by children and youth; they are making sure their voices are being heard.
Some advocate for environmental justice, some for gender equality, but it does not end there. It is clear that today’s children and youth are more powerful than ever. With their voices and energy, and strong awareness of their rights, they are calling our government to take action. Young people can also expose society’s flaws and empower the public to do something.
4. How do you think the climate crisis may impact your future?
The climate crisis doesn’t only affect my future but also the future of all living things on this planet. If people, especially our governments and big corporations, don't take any immediate action, we can expect a miserable future full of extreme and unpreventable catastrophes, collapsing ecosystems, worsened food insecurities, El Niño, La Niña, and more deadly viruses.
Climate change will also negatively impact our education and malnutrition will be more rampant, especially amongst children. All of these are already happening right now and it will get worse if people don’t do anything. The consequences of climate change are a chain reaction; our future might be worse than what we are expecting. It is heartbreaking to know that our future will be affected by climate crises that will not only prevent us from enjoying our rights to the fullest, but will also put all living beings on the brink of extinction.
Regardless, I will keep doing what I do now, which is advocating for climate awareness and child rights. I’m also planning on being involved in more climate activism initiatives that allow me to share my opinions, ideas, and insights with leaders and to work with them on building a sustainable community.
I also have a research subject in my school, so I use what I learn to provide eco-friendly solutions for the public. And lastly, I also promise myself that when I’m an adult and financially independent, I’m going to invest my money in projects for climate activism such as climate change awareness, reforestation programs, and many more.
5. What would you say to governments and world leaders?
Governments and world leaders have the most resources to fight climate change. Hence, their action in leading the movement is essential. World leaders should take their responsibilities seriously and keep their promises. The reason why they are in power right now is because people believed they could create a better community and take concrete action.
Every day, millions of people including children are suffering and dying due to climate change and it’s ironic that children who are least at fault, are the ones affected the most. Not taking action is a disregard for humanity. Leaders have the power to control everything and lead everyone on a path towards a sustainable future, but it’s a shame that they’re not doing so, destroying the planet in the meantime.
Lastly, leaders should panic because climate change has never been a joke, it is not a conspiracy theory at all.
6. What message would you like to share with children and youth globally to help them engage in climate action?
My message to my fellow children and youth is that we’re in this together to fight climate change. This is our only planet because there’s no planet B. We must be the voice for the voiceless and be a part of the solution.
Keeping in mind that everything in this world is connected; we should take care of the environment to protect ourselves and other living things.
Believe in yourself and that you’re capable of making positive changes to create a sustainable future for every child. I know challenges are always there, but we need to have some faith and trust that at the end of the day, everything will be worth it.
Let's all continue aspiring for breakthroughs towards resiliency to make our community better, more sustainable and safer for every child. It’s in each one of us – the future of every child is in our hands.