From a place of privilege, she speaks the truth about climate to power

She speaks truthfully about climate from power, even though she is privileged to do so.
Erika Pieros, NPR Erika Pieros

Maria Laura Rojas was reluctant to interview me when I first approached her and explained that I was searching for people in Colombia affected by climate change. She understood that I was searching for someone who had lost everything due to flooding or whose crops were destroyed by drought.

She said, "I wouldn’t be able tell a story such as that." "I live in Bogota, the capital city. I am on the seventh floor of a building. To be completely honest.

She got in touch with her again a few days later. She said, "You got my attention and it's been there ever since." "Like, I have to have a story because without it, I wouldn't be working on this."

She felt the emotional impact of the warming climate even though it wasn't directly touching her. She says that reflecting on climate from privilege is also valuable.

Maria Laura Rojas was raised in Bogota. She was always aware of suffering, regardless of whether it was pained people or horses pulled by emaciated carts on the streets. She says, "It gets at me very closely."

She attended law school and was initially focused on discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or gender. After graduating, she became a passionate advocate for women's rights. She says, "I was focused primarily on gender, genre, and gender."

Erika Pieros, NPR Erika Pieros

A friend then recruited her to a job that appeared completely different. In Colombia, where climate-related disruption is a constant threat, she was appointed climate diplomat. A U.S. intelligence agency report placed Colombia on the list of 11 countries most likely to be affected by climate change. In 2015, she was a member of a delegation to international negotiations that resulted in a historic agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

"Going into negotiations, I was told, "Speak with confidence that you are speaking for 40 million Colombians," she said. "And I was like, "Am I?" "Really?

From her previous work, she knew that Colombia is rife with inequality. Both rich and poor can lead starkly different lives and climate change can affect them in very different ways.

One example: La Guajira is a region of Colombia at the country's northern tip.

Many of those living there are native. They are experiencing more irregular seasonal rains. Crops are falling apart. Rojas states that there is a lot of food security, which affects the children very severely. Women are the ones who must fetch water for their households, and it's mostly women. They are forced to walk longer distances and through unsafe areas.

Rojas states that it's like a loop connecting the underlying causes for gender inequality and climate changes impacts. These communities are often not provided with the assistance they require from Colombia's government. Rojas states that they could have better infrastructure, and should. This is what they've been asking for for many years. Unfortunately, the government has not responded to their request.

Erika Pieros, NPR Erika Pieros

She has been on official trips in La Guajira and similar trips to African communities that were created to show how vulnerable these countries are to climate change. Rojas states that you can see the people struggling when you go in buses. Yet, communities are often left without any assistance after the buses have stopped. It's always shocking to see the results of your visits. It's always shocking to see these places used to show vulnerability, but not correspondingly supported to make changes," she said.

Rojas understood that fighting climate change was a fight for everyone, no matter how powerless or behind. She says that climate is all about justice. "It's the injustice of it that keeps me active and involved. It touches on everything important to me."

Rojas left Colombia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs around five years ago. It was the right time. In 2015, the Paris Agreement was signed, which promised that nations would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. She was tired from the long hours and traveling.

Transforma is a Colombian group that she co-founded. It focuses on climate advocacy. They have developed proposals to protect Colombia's forests, and reports on whether foreign investment is making the country more resilient to climate change. She's now back at the latest climate summit in Glasgow but she will be standing outside of the negotiating rooms. She will be pushing for countries to provide more assistance to communities that are struggling to adapt to climate change.

She believes these U.N. sponsored meetings can help to promote change in Colombia in La Guajira. She says, "You can draw the line between what happens at international meetings and impacts for specific community." "When countries commit to international action, it gives you at least a hook to which you can make demands at home."

At U.N meetings, Colombia's President has agreed to send aid to the most affected by climate change. Rojas says he'll be reminded about those words in Bogota. You said that, like! "You, the president, said it!" Maybe he will be forced to pay more attention in the future to those affected by climate change in his country.