Chiara Sacchi is a 17-year-old Slow Food activist living in Haedo, Argentina, in the Pampas ecoregion of Buenos Aires. Haedo typically has hot summers, cold winters, and moderate precipitation.
Recently, though, the previously moderate climate has become extreme, with weeks of intense heat in the summer and frigid cold in the winter. Sometimes, a week of unusual heat will uncharacteristically arrive in the middle of winter. The extreme weather has terrified Chiara, who fears what a future impacted by the climate crisis will bring; but these changes in the climate that she is experiencing have inspired her to speak up about the dangerous impacts of climate change.
Chiara represents Slow Food Argentina network, participated in Terra Madre Salone del Gusto and participates in activities of the Slow Food Cocaina Soberana Community in Buenos Aires. Slow Food had the chance to interview Chiara about her activism and the historic petition she is taking to the UN alongside Greta Thunberg with Children vs Climate Crisis.
I would describe myself as a food sovereignty and climate change activist. A feminist too! I am 17 years old and am completing my last year of high school.
What is are your thoughts about the issues surrounding food and agriculture? The feeling is that these issues are finally on the international agenda, with connections made to climate change. Where are we at? How much work still needs to be done?
I have a very clear and firm position, especially with regards to the agro-food industry and its exponential growth over the years, which I am certain is putting our planet at the risk of extinction. I promote Slow Food principles because I believe that there are other ways of producing food, ones that do not harm nature and humans. Agro-industrial production isn’t the only way. I believe in the small producers who work the land in the way their ancestors did: with respect. I believe in protecting and, most of all, strengthening the biodiversity of our territories. Not only are governments not taking charge of fixing and preventing the damages caused by the food system, they are allowing toxins to continue landing on our plates. They do not regulate or enforce the appropriate laws, do not support our right to clean air, nor to sovereign food systems free of agro-toxins.
How do you plan to make use of this experience in your next activities, in particular those linked to Slow Food?
I want to encourage those who are sensitive and interested in joining the movement, to seek out information. We are all learning from science and even if statistics shouldn’t govern our actions, I think we need to be aware of this data, pay close attention to science, be conscious of what is happening. I feel that this has been a very enriching experience for me on a personal level: I met many people from places in the world that I never thought I would the opportunity to meet, each of them with a different story, some about militant activism, but also about personal experience and culture. For a long time I wanted to build a new Slow Food network of young people in Argentina, so this is my goal when I return.
What advice would you give to your peers to fight the climate crisis?
I think we have to take responsibility for our actions: to be aware and be careful of how much we consume, what we eat, how much and what we buy.
Small actions such as eliminating junk food and cutting out processed foods as much as possible, separating our waste, participating in climate marches – even small-scale ones – choosing food from local, artisanal and sustainable producers and perhaps those that are most affected by the climate crisis. Get involved, get out on the street.
In Latin America we have a long history, and the strength of our people has been demonstrated on many occasions. As a people, all of us have to take to the streets, because it is our place, our right, to march and make ourselves heard, in every way possible.
Do you want to launch a call to action, share your message?
For me, the importance lies in what touches us closely. It is very difficult for us to be aware of a problem until it touches us closely, until we hear testimonials.
My friends and family are my priority, the people who help me grow. My parents. Their happiness and well-being is important to me.
I can’t imagine a happy world where children go to school wearing masks; a world where you can’t enjoy the sea, where you can’t breathe. When I talk about taking to the streets, I’m talking about mobilizing, of creating collective strength. Every big change comes from the masses, from the people. We must revolutionize our present to enjoy a good future, to persevere in protecting the purity and beauty of the world we have. It’s our home.
What is the petition you launched at the UN?
The petition to the UN is an historic complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the Rights of the Child to protest against the inaction of governments in the face of the climate crisis. We remember the declaration of universal rights for children, made 30 years ago, and how these have been violated. Clean air, the right to a healthy childhood, or the right to sustainable lands have not been safeguarded.