Interview: Anja Čarapić – It is vital to separate politics from climate

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Environmental scientist from Serbia Anja Čarapić is a permanent associate of “The Global Human Rights Forums” conferences for environmental and climate issues. At our first Forum Anja held the panel “Climate change induced migrations – the example of island countries” with a Angélique Pouponneau from Seychelles (via skype call). At 2nd GHRF she held the panel “Basic Needs as Human Rights” and spoke about the privatization of water resources together with Thuvaraka Thavayogarajah Ph.D biomedical sciences from Germany who spoke about social circumstances that cause malaria. We can proudly announce Anja as a guest speaker at our 3rd conference also. This October she will held a panel about Paris Climate Agreement. At the beginning of the conversation, we asked her to tell us more  about her work in young organisation EcoHub and their future plans.
– EcoHub is youth environmental organisation that aims to boost environmental knowledge among wider
community in Serbia through informal meet-ups, lectures and workshops. Currently we are working on “eco
workshop” project where students get a chance to become “eco-mentors” for elementary school pupils, get new experience and exchange knowledge with youngsters.

“I am afraid to admit that ecology is still on low-priority level in Serbia.”

You have finished your studies in Finland, what did you study?
– Actually, this was more the extension of my previous environmental sciences studies in University of Belgrade. I decided that Helsinki is the right place to master Urban Ecology which provides answers to many eco-issues of today’s world.

You have been selected for international training for sustainable development in ecology. What is it about?
– I had a chance to be selected as Serbia representative in YES – Youth encounter of sustainability 2017. This is a intensive sustainability lab where 20 young people from all over the world have a chance to work on their own sustainability projects with global leaders.

The first problem for someone from Serbia when it comes to this type of training are fundings. It looks like ecology goals aren’t recognized by the government. Are there any form of funding for scientists and researches in this field?
– From my experience, there are some amount of funds available for environmental NGO’s, but not for individuals. I am afraid to admit that ecology is still on low-priority level in Serbia.

What are your next professional goals?
– My future goals are to continue developing EcoHub, together with few of my enthusiastic colleagues, as well as work on vertical garden startup I co-founded. You can see more at http://urbigo.me.

At our first forum you presented the topic about human rights of people escaping from island countries due to floods. You are pioneer in this topic in Serbia, and there are only a few scientist in a world researching this issues from human rights perspective. What are the biggest problems of this people and what are the cause of this problem?
– I don’t consider myself as a pioneer of this topic in Serbia – as environmental scientist it is natural for me to always follow global environmental issues and give my best to raise awareness about them. Even if for many of us effects of climate change seems far off, for people from island countries like Kiribati, Tuvalu, Solomon islands… this is cruel reality. They are unable to recover from severe climate changes, floods, monsoons and are migrating inland, losing their homes, crop fields, and cultural identity. Just ask yourself how would you feel if the beach you played on as a child is now completely under water?
Anja Čarapić at the 2nd GHRF
Anja Čarapić speaking about the privatisation of water resources at the 2nd GHRF conference in Belgrade

“Just ask yourself how would you feel if the beach you played on as a child is now completely under water?”

Shortly after the conference a movie about this topic made by Leonardo Di Caprio came out. Do you think that it is important that celebrity people popularize this kind of topics?
– Good thing about that is global reach of a problem, but my views are bit conflicted when it comes to
celebrities/politicians becoming climate scientists. It is obvious that we as a species change our environment
rapidly, and this change brings our planet more harm than good. Climate is very complex system and it is vital to separate politics from it.

At the conference you spoke with Angélique Pouponneau from Seychelles. This was unique experience for all participants, but also for you to actually have Q&A with someone originally from the part of the world which is the most affected by the climate change. What did that mean to you personally and professionally?
– She was very professional and I think this experience fulfilled this topic in the best manner. She brought ‘on site’ experience we can only read about – this was really valuable.

At the second forum you spoke about privatization of water resources. Can you compare the privatization
models in Serbia and in the world. What are the biggest problems?
– The privatisation models are more-less the same. Water factories do not have enough resources to improve their services and thus they are being sold to more powerful companies for much less money that their true worth is. Serbia is among top 50 countries in the world when it comes to clean and healthy water resources but due to lack of funds, and international pressures, our water supplies are being sold to private companies which could result higher prices of drinkable water.

What can privatization bring to the poor countries and what will they loose?
– Privatisation could bring modernization of water supply factories, reducing mortality rate and making water
systems more efficient. But on the other hand it could limit who actually recieve this water leaving low income individuals without essential resource.

You are supporting GHRF from the very beginning since you was speaker at both our conferences and you will be at our third too. Can you tell our readers why do you think this events are important and what are the benefits for them to participate?
– GHFR is great place to hear about different topics from the angle of human rights, exchange experiences with people from all over the world and get long lasting friendships and connections. This makes it so significant for everyone who participate in the Forum.

 

Interviewed by Nemanja Marinović

Anja Čarapić at very 1st GHRF in Belgrade
Anja Čarapić at very 1st GHRF in Belgrade

 

The 3rd Global Human Rights Forum will be held in Belgrade 26-28 October 2017
The call for applicants and speakers is open.

International conference: The Global Human Rights Forums