Interview with Climate Activist [Ania Sauku]
- CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
Absolutely! Well, I am a very-much-care-about-everything 20 years old, who is currently studying law and wishing to specialize on human rights with an environmental focus. I've been invloved in the civic society ever since I was 16, taking part in different networks and activities and meeting people who really inspire change and inspire me to work harder for my community. But outside of my engagements, I like to consider myself a creative soul who is always on the lookout to have some fun!
- TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR MAIN MOTIVATION FOR BEING INVOLVED WITH UNYA. WHEN DID YOU FIRST START WITH YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE ENVIRONMENT? WHAT WAS THE TURNING POINT?
At the point before I joined UNYA, I had taken part in some of their activities and was impressed by the quality and by the dynamics of the people, and after I joined it, I fell in love with the work we do and the joy we express while doing it. I realised that's how community building should feel like: doing hard work while gaining joy from the people you work with and the work that you do. I started gaining an interest on the environment early on, because I was a girl scout and we were taught the importance of nature and how dependant we were on it for our survival, but it wasn't until 2 years ago when I started acting on my interest. I think a huge role on this played the tools of advocacy I learned at UNYA and from then on, I'm still trying to turn this advocacy into more concrete climate activism.
- WHAT DOES THE PHRASE CLIMATE JUSTICE MEAN TO YOU?
Honestly, climate justice is essential to the climate movement because it acknowledges and exposes all the systems that are intertwined that are actively causing climate change such as capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy..ect, while also making the climate movement a more people-centred one. Especially focusing on vulnerable communities who have done the least of the damage but are going to suffer the most of the consequences, leading to the danger of their own existence. As long as you live in the Planet Earth, you are affected by climate change, but it drastically differs if you live in a small island that will not be there anymore or in a small village that risks life-threatenig floods and if you live in a penthouse in NYC and take private jets for 40 minutes car rides.
- IF YOU COULD IMAGINE AN IDEAL COOPERATION BETWEEN THE SOCIAL AND CLIMATE MOVEMENTS, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE? (IN THE CASE OF ALBANIA)
Frankly, an ideal cooperation would be one where one movement (the climate one) is included in the other movements (the social one). The climate movement is a social movement because it was born from people's most basic desire: to live and to continue living in the future, and the social movements were born to make our life better. So these movements can co-exist with each other because social issues and climate change both affect our lives, despite one being seemingly more "for the Western part of the world" and one more tangible for us.
- IN THIS FIELD, OUR WORK AS ACTIVISTS IS TO PROMOTE VALUES SUCH AS EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION. IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, DO YOU THINK THERE IS A PLACE FOR EVERYONE IN ACTIVISM?
Duh! It is even more important for people from all backgrounds to join the fight, because like we said everyone is affected by climate change but we are affected in different ways. Having spaces that create the opportunity for people to share their experiences and their best practicies is central to climate justice and frankly, social movements in general. I think it is even more important to not just create this spaces but also to know where to pass the mic to people who need it the most and to constantly check yourself if you are doing the utmost to make sure everybody is heard.
- WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO START GETTING INVOLVED WITH THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT?
It is a long road ahead. One that has started before us and hopefully not, but maybe one that will surpass us. Climate change is a global issue and sometimes it is very hard to conceptualize how wide the world is when you are stuck in your local community work, which is central and important but at the end is only one part of the chain of solutions. My advice would be that the utmost work of the climate movement is the people, so focus on getting to know as many of them and listen to their story, gain their prespective and learn from their initatives. Connecting with people and taking action in our way is the best way we can tackle this gigantic monster caused by our own greed.
This interview comes as part of a series of interviews with climate campaigners and advocates in Albania, with the support of Youth and Environment Europe.