Amazonian activists in Ecuador join “Fridays For Future”

Daniel Robles Romero an Ecuadorian researcher preparing for the Amazon Synod

Students took to the streets across the globe in the hundreds of thousands on Friday, marking a second wave of worldwide protests demanding swift action on climate change. As a local conservationist and rainforest guide reveals, the phenomenon has infiltrated the lush Amazon vegetation and encouraged its inhabitants to highlight the fragility of the Amazon ecosystem.

“Fridays For Future” is a global movement of students who leave their classrooms to demonstrate and demand action to curtail the escalating global warming crisis and halt climate change.

It was begun in August 2018 by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist who has galvanized her peers across the globe and addressed political leaders at the recent United Nations Climate Summit.

Fridays for Future protesters are calling for the abandonment of fossil energy sources, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental justice for the peoples of the world.

Preparing to contribute to the upcoming October Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region, Daniel Robles, an Amazon rainforest researcher and guide in the Ecuadorian Amazon, told Vatican News that the team of conservationists to whom he belongs has become increasingly galvanized by the world-wide movement.

Daniel explained that he is part of a Foundation that aims to protect the Amazon rainforest and said that the members of the group he works with heard about the Fridays For Future initiative.

The fact that people, as far away as Europe, were starting to stand up and demand action against climate change was incredibly empowering, he said.

He revealed that a series of set-backs had impacted his group’s activities and said they were not campaigning any more, but seeing so many people across the globe take action “we started to get organized with other groups to join Fridays For Future “which is a great idea”.

People are really starting to take an interest

Daniel said in his community the Church is really supportive and, more generally, while at the beginning no one seemed to pay much attention, in the last couple of months more and more people are getting interested – including NGOs and even government representatives –  in the possibility of being able to bring about change. “We think people are starting to think about how they can help preserve our environment,” he said.

Thanks to increased activity and awareness raising,  he said his group is receiving comments on social media, and this had led to the making of videos that are posted on fb to raise awareness regarding the need to protect the Amazon rainforest “which is important for the whole world”.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement

Daniel said faith-based organizations are in the front line as regards commitment for the cause, including Caritas, “with which we now have an alliance”, and the MCMC (The Global Catholic Climate Movement) that is working with us to support future activities.

Daniel confessed he knew nothing of the October Synod, but expressed interest and enthusiasm for any initiative that shows attention and concern for the Amazon Rivers and ecosystems.

“We think it is great that a meeting such as that will help get the message across that it is necessary to protect the Amazon Rainforest,” he said.

For too many years, he concluded, bad practices have contributed to increasingly damage the rainforest and its peoples, but “we are the generation that must make some important changes”.