Uzbekistan's Tatyana Sin was selected out of thousands from around the world to participate in the first-ever UN Youth Climate Summit which gathered environmentalists from over 100 countries. Sin talked to VOA's Navbahor Imamova about her experience.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: So, Tania, you were selected exclusively to represent Uzbekistan as a young environmentalist, right?
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Yeah!
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: How did that process go? How did you end up here?
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Well, actually, United Nations announced that they are going to have this summit this year, and previously I had been working in the small grant program on the Global Environmental Fund. National representative Aleksey Volkov shared the link. So I followed a link, applied... answered to eight questions. I guess it was... like we have to write essays on what we are doing, in order to... what actions do we undertake to protect the environment, what do we do. We had to show our commitment to the earth's protection.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Basically your ideas, your vision.
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Ideas, visions and, most importantly actions. Based on that they have chosen 100 youth participants, and provided them with full funding.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: What is the difference between the youth summit and today's summit? We get that it is about young people versus adults and everyone else, but what was so special about the one that took place on Saturday?
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: The most important thing that during the Youth Climate Action Summit, the youth were given an opportunity to talk and express their opinion, and to demand the things that are necessary to protect the environment right now. They had the opportunity to express themselves and show that they are capable of actions, as equal as adults. Plus this summit also provided a great platform for the youth to be heard by the state... by the leaders, decision makers of this world.
The most important thing that during the Youth Climate Action Summit, the youth were given an opportunity to talk and express their opinion, and to demand the things that are necessary to protect the environment right now.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: And then you brought those ideas, those proposals to the table today, at this time, right?
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Well, actually they were three representatives of youth, most of us were actually not given an opportunity to talk, but they expressed the whole opinion that youth need to support, youth are capable of actions, and youth actually are the future of this planet.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: So, let's go back to Uzbekistan, and look at who is really advocating for the protection of the environment, who's leading those at efforts, taking actions against the negative occurrences in the climate...
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Yeah.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Do you have a lot of young people in that contingent?
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Well, actually, this is the problem that we have in Uzbekistan... Unfortunately, small amount of people do know and realize the reality of it. But we do have a representative from the authority like a deputy speaker, we have non-governmental organizations, we have UN agencies who devotes their actions to raise the awareness among the young generation. And right now, like after this summit, we are planning to have a huge press tour, in order... once again raise the awareness. And it will, as much... as many young people as possible.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: So, we know that Uzbekistan and the United Nations hope that with your participation, your activism, the awareness campaign will get boosted and re-energized.
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Yeah, hopefully.
I do believe that United Nations, especially in raising awareness, they do a great job!
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: When you come to these kinds of events, and you know, participation is interesting - it's an exciting experience. But, people are very cynical about the United Nations in general, including many in Uzbekistan, who say the United Nations and its agencies - they talk, but they don't necessarily change anything in reality. They don't really believe that these kinds of mechanisms bring about real changes anymore. Why do you believe in the United Nations?
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: So, yeah, of course, these opinions can take place, but I do believe that United Nations, especially in raising awareness, they do a great job! Even though they... well we haven't witnessed a practical solution during youth summit as well, but still they attracted as much attention as possible. So, if you look around there, a lot of media are here, young people are here, and they will go back to their countries and they will share their experiences... So, I do believe that United Nations is quite effective in this way.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: You are from Khorezm, a region that has experienced a lot of droughts in the last few years, and obviously feels the impact from the drying of the Aral sea, and you have a lot of environmental issues. So when they ask, when the international community asks people like you about the most pressing issue in your country now, what do you say?
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: I would say that it is the contamination of water, soil and air. I live close to the Aral Sea, as you mentioned. And everything, every resource is contaminated with salt, and the other problem is the, inefficient use of water resources. Well... The main source of income for the majority of people is still agriculture. The water resources are not used properly. That's why we are not able to revive the Aral Sea, and most scientists believe that it is quite impossible. So, this is the main environmental problems that we have today, I would say.
... the contamination of water, soil and air.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Have you been networking with other young people here from around the world?
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Yes I have... Well, the main... I wouldn't say this is the disadvantage, but a way to improve this summit for the next year, I would say that there should be more interactive workshops and seminars among young participants as well, because, we got to know each other only on the third day of this week.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: (laughs)
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Yeah, so it's not a complaint, but it's more like a suggestion to have more practical workshops and seminars and a chance for the youth to get to know each other, and as you mentioned, establish a network. But I did establish it, that's what was one of my goals...
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Tanya, tell us little bit about your background. How did you end up being an environmentalist?
I had a bright example of my mom. She's the director of a non-governmental organization, called Khorezm Rural Advisory Supportive Center.
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Ah well, from the early childhood, I had a bright example of my mom. She's the director of a non-governmental organization, called Khorezm Rural Advisory Supportive Center. They devote their actions to support local farmers. They help local farmers, facilitate the process of farming etc. So yeah, I had her as a [model]... Then since being a student, I tried to do my best to be involved in these international organizations such as UNESCO. I got internships there. Plus, I connected my studies, I found my passion for the economics, but I also connected my passion to the environmental protection. For instance, I've been studying corporate social responsibility, like the way for the companies that seek profit, also care about the environment, and lead businesses sustainably.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Very nice! Well, good luck and thank you so much!
Tatyana Sin, activist from Khorezm: Thank you very much, you too, thank you.