UNICEF names Francisco Vera, 13 year-old activist, as the first youth advocate for environmental and climate action for Latin America and the Caribbean

05 June 2023

PANAMA CITY, 5 June 2023 - On World Environment Day and as hurricane season begins in the Atlantic, UNICEF names Colombian activist Francisco Vera as the first youth advocate for environmental and climate action in Latin America and the Caribbean to promote environmental education and child participation.

The 13-year-old, born in Bogota, Colombia, and based in Spain, joins a prestigious group of young leaders around the world who have common goals: that every child grows up on a greener, healthier, more sustainable, and safer planet.

Francisco is an activist and defender of the right to a healthy environment and has dedicated himself to education for years through the group “Guardians for Life”. Thanks to his presence on social media and engagement with a virtual environmental activism programme and a network of schools, Francisco amplifies his fight for climate action, children’s rights, climate justice and human rights.

By joining UNICEF’s group of young advocates, Francisco will have the opportunity to inspire more children to be part of the change the world needs and reach decision-makers to demand participation of children in decisions related to environment and climate, among other issues that directly affect them. Francisco is currently working with UNICEF in preparation for the meetings and negotiations of the subsidiary bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (SB58) that will take place in Bonn, Germany, from June 5 to 15, 2023.

“Every day, families and their children across Latin America and the Caribbean are increasingly hit by the devastating impact of climate change and environmental disruption –either through hurricanes, floods or droughts. Educating people, especially young people, about climate action is no longer optional, it’s vital and urgent,” said Garry Conille, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“I am impressed by how passionate, determined and articulate Francisco, only 13 –years -old, is about the fight against climate change. The UNICEF team is thrilled to work with him in his new role of youth advocate to make sure the voices of Latin American and Caribbean youth will be heard by those who can -and must- make the right decisions.”

“Turning this region into a greener, healthier and safer place for all shouldn’t just be Francisco’s personal commitment; it should be one of the most pressing priorities of every single government. We need more young people like Francisco, and we need them now,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Out of 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, only 14 include education actions in their nationally determined contributions,[1] that is, in the public commitments made for the implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 on December 12, 2015.

Education plays a vital role in climate action by raising awareness and stimulating participation, contributing to informed decisions, and creating solutions, as recognized in Article 12 of the Paris Agreement.

Francisco added, “I am very proud of this opportunity that UNICEF gives me today especially for Latin America and Spain and allowing us to continue raising our voices together to continue working for climate justice and environmental peace. We must not forget that no matter where we are, how old we are or where we are: We can all work for life and act.”

[1] 28 NDC were analyzed (first 25 NDC updated and 4 seconds NDC recorded).

Media contacts

Laurent Duvillier
Regional Chief of Communication
UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: + 507 3017393
Tel: + 507 6169 9886
Clara Inés Luna V.
Communication Officer
Tel: +507 301 7379

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UNICEF works in some of the most difficult places to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. In 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean works in 36 countries and territories through 24 national programmes to promote the rights and well-being of all children in the region. Among these, it works continuously to strengthen climate resilience and environmental sustainability, for example by promoting climate-resilient water and sanitation services and the use of renewable energy in health centers and schools and responding to air and plastic pollution.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/lac/en.

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