‘Use your power and your voice’

Xiomara Acevedo is an internationalist, climate and gender justice activist, conservationist, and social entrepreneur from Colombia. Photo: Private.

‘Use your power and your voice’

Xiomara Acevedo is an internationalist, climate and gender justice activist, conservationist, and social entrepreneur from Colombia. She is the founder and director of the women-led and youth-focused NGO Barranquilla+20, and an active member of Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN). Read our interview with Xiomara here!

In this series, activists from the Global South share their perspectives on Norway and rich countries’ role in sustainable development, and how civil society from around the world can stand together in the fight for a just and sustainable planet.

What are the largest challenges in your region when it comes to sustainability, climate change, human rights and global justice?

Protecting environmental defenders and activists, protecting rights of rightsholders, rights-based conservation. combatting deforestation, and land tenure.

Does Norway have a greater responsibility for contributing to a just global future than other countries? What can Norway and other countries in the Global North do to ensure global justice?

Norway, as one of the wealthiest nations and a huge oil producer and consumer, does indeed carry a present, future, and historical responsibility in contributing to the unequal and climate affected world that we have today.

As fossil fuels are responsible for the losses and damages of climate change, with economic and non-economic impacts around the globe especially in countries in the Global South, Norway has a huge obligation to address the climate crisis for present and future generations. Norway has to repair climate, environmental and societal impacts caused by the extraction, pollution, carbon colonialism, and in general, the perpetuity impacts generated in ancestral lands, ecosystems, and communities in countries of the Global South.

While it's true that other developed nations also bear responsibility, Norway's per capita environmental footprint and economic capacity places the country in an influential position. Norway needs to lead the way in adopting and financing the decarbonisation of its economy, dismantling false solutions and accelerate the transformational change we need in the world, for justice and equity.

How does Norwegian policies affect sustainable development in your country?

Norway's investments in fossil fuel industries contribute to carbon emissions, global warming. This exacerbates climate-related challenges, such as extreme weather events, displacements, gender inequities, among others. According to Action Aid, the Norwegian Oil Fund has billions of US dollars invested in coal and fossil fuels, making it “Europe’s largest institutional investor in coal”. Also, particularly in Colombia, Norway is developing international cooperation initiatives related to energy and fossil fuels around the country and mostly with the private-public sector.

What can and should Norway and other countries in the global North do to ensure global justice, including climate and environmental justice, in the next 30 years?

In the next 30 years, or just in the next 7 years, Norway and other countries in the Global North must take the ambitious steps to promote global justice in climate, biodiversity, and human rights. Norway needs to accelerate its transition away from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy sources, and of course in a decarbonised economy. The country should use its resources in sustainable energy to support global efforts in combating climate change.

It is crucial for Norway to ensure that its policies are not double standards in combatting the climate crisis. On one hand, the country is promoting climate action, and on the other hand, the country is investing in fossil fuels. Countries in the Global South experience the disproportionate impacts of climate change promoted by policies that are putting income and market-based solutions first, rather than investing in transformative and just solutions. It is crucial for Norway to also support environmental democracy for rightsholders - children, youth, IPLCs, women, among others, and to uphold human rights standards in all foreign relations and investments, ensuring that Norwegian businesses operating abroad adhere to ethical and environmental standards.

What can and should we as Norwegian civil society do to contribute to the needed changes for the future?

Norwegian civil society play a vital role in advocating for change and justice and holding their government accountable for its actions in our planet. It is of utmost importance to continue relying on the advocacy of civil society and actively strive for policies that prioritise climate justice, sustainability, and human rights, both within Norway and across the globe.

You, as civil society, should demand transparency and alignment between climate commitments, climate finance and investments. Ethical and intergenerational leadership for conservation and climate justice will only be promoted if civil society are pushing it forward. Additionally, you have a crucial role in enlightening the public about global challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, and human rights abuses.

It is imperative that the Norwegian civil society collaborates with counterparts from other nations, especially those in the Global South, to exchange knowledge, pool resources, and uphold shared values. Your involvement is paramount in advocating for equitable, low-carbon, and ethical practices within the private and corporate sectors. Together, you can make a meaningful impact on the path towards a more sustainable and just world.

What is your message to Norwegian civil society working for more just and ambitious Norwegian politics for climate justice and sustainability?

Use your power and your voice to dismantle initiatives that are not addressing the root causes of inequality, climate and gender disparities, human rights, among others!

To the dedicated members of Norwegian civil society advocating for a more just and ambitious political landscape focused on climate justice and sustainability: Your work is pivotal, and your message resounds far and wide. It is essential that you continue to utilise your influence and your voice to address the critical issues at hand. I really like how Norway’s civil society put gender and intersectionality at the core of many campaigns and initiatives!

Your power and determination should be directed towards dismantling initiatives that fall short of addressing the root causes of pressing challenges, including but not limited to inequality, climate disparities, gender inequity, and human rights violations.

Stand firm in your commitment to hold both government and private entities accountable for their actions!