Thirty-two year-old Lorena Terrazas has a powerful and rich voice and she is using it to transform her country of Bolivia.
Lorena was born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 1983. She understands the problems with discrimination among different ethnic groups in Bolivia. She has Quechua indigenous roots from her paternal grandfather and her family is from various parts of Bolivia. Even when she was young, she understood the importance of dialogue between people and how diversity can enrich rather than undermine our societies.
In 2005 Lorena began her journey by working on youth advocacy projects. She recognized the importance of citizen participation, transparency, and human rights, but she did not connect political issues with other social and environmental problems. Her projects were focused on specific issues, and were disconnected from other related areas.
When Lorena’s previous boss (Ramiro Orias) introduced her to the Earth Charter, she embraced it as a tool that helps her understand the interconnectedness of all things because the Earth. Charter has a comprehensive and holistic vision. It helps her in her work as an educator to cover a range of specific issues, but always connecting them together with an integrated vision.
After 10 years working on projects in Bolivia with young people, women, indigenous people and rural communities, Lorena contacted Alicia Jimenez, Project Coordinator at the Earth Charter International. In 2015 Earth Charter International invited Lorena to present the work she has done with women and indigenous people at a meeting of experts on climate change education and sustainable development. After that meeting, Lorena began working more closely with Earth Charter International, which strengthened the work she is doing with young people on climate change.
In preparation for the COP21 in Paris, the UN Conference to create a global agreement to stop climate change, Lorena jumped into action. Realizing that this issue affects the whole world, and that most people could not directly participate in Paris, Lorena brought the COP21 to the young people of Bolivia. She began organizing a project to integrate the Earth Charter and climate change, and eventually developed and coordinated workshops for 1,400 young people from 8 universities in La Paz, El Alto, and Santa Cruz. She then organized a mock conference with 200 young people and had them work through the process of reaching a global climate agreement. Upon completing the COP21 preparatory projects in Brazil, Lorena headed for Europe.
In November 2015 she participated in meetings with the United Nations on indigenous peoples rights in the forum entitled “Business and Human Rights” held at the headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva. In that meeting there were presentations on socio-environmental monitoring, an initiative that is taking place in Bolivia, which supports the strengthening of territorial control and management of indigenous people in their relationship with oil companies. Lorena then headed to Paris where she participated in the COP21. While she was there, she did not forget about the Latino youth that could attend the event. She presented in a webinar, organized by Earth Charter International and Ruta del Clima, to inform others of what was happening during this historic event.
Now this young Bolivian is working to involve young people in developing their own sustainability projects. For example, Lorena is currently collaborating with Earth Charter International on a social media campaign, made by youth for youth, to spread word of the Earth Charter in a manner that is more accessible,using images and videos.
Even with all of that, and that is just the beginning for Lorena. Lorena dreams of finishing a master’s degree and a doctorate. She imagines studying outside her country so she can broaden her vision and open new doors. But she always sees herself returning to Bolivia, bringing new tools and knowledge to push, encourage, and guide the development of Bolivia in a sustainable direction. She recognizes the complicated political arena of the country: the urge to move towards a dangerous type of development; one focused only on economic growth with no consideration for social and environmental realms.
Lorena is dedicated to serving the people of her country, making it possible for them to meet their own needs by bringing a different perspective to the people, especially youth, of a sustainable and peaceful world. She believes that it is possible to achieve this goal using a holistic vision inspired by the Earth Charter.
To follow the story of Lorena you can visit the website of the organization PEACE NETWORK INTEGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT – PAZINDE www.redpazinde.org or write to [email protected]