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174: These are Powerful Times

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About this episode

Welcome to another episode of Outrage + Optimism. 

As always, we examine issues at the forefront of the climate crisis, interview change-makers, and transform our anger into productive dialogue on building a sustainable future. 

In this episode, co-host Christiana Figueres is joined by an all female cast. You’ll hear from climate activist Abigael (Abbie) Kima from Kenya about her recent visit with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and Isabel Cavelier, climate activist from Colombia and recent recipient of the prestigious Climate Breakthrough Award

We also have music from the British indie rock quartet Penelope Isles.


First, Abbie Kima brings Christiana up to date with her podcast, the “Hali Hewa Podcast,” covering indigenous people, women, and climate emergency from the African perspective. 

After five completed episodes of Hali Hewa, Kima is settling into the podcasting process. The key for her is providing African voices a global microphone on critical issues, such as loss and damage, activism, and climate science. 

They discuss Kima’s plans to bring African grassroots stories about climate-related loss to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Kima references her recent trip to Isiolo in Northern Kenya, where it hasn’t rained for two years. The residents are essentially without food or water, and their livestock is dying. 

“So when we talk about loss and damage [this is what we mean],” she says. “We can’t expect those people to adapt to a lack of food or water.” 

Kima also recounts the extraordinary meeting she and others had with the Dalai Lama with the Better We Better World initiative in the mountains of Dharamsala. She expands on his teachings about how oneness across all people is innately linked to meaningful global climate action. 

“When we see each other as brothers and sisters, we cannot do something detrimental to the other person,” Kima explains. “We are aware of our interconnectedness, and that really inspires us from the deepest part of our hearts to do the right thing.” 

“It was absolutely a beautiful experience,” she adds.


Christiana also chats with Isabel Cavelier about her fascinating climate journey. Cavelier touches on her early work in developing Colombia’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)一the United Nations framework for shared peace and prosperity across the planet. Christiana interrupts to underscore the incredible contribution Cavelier made in their development and broad acceptance. “From my perspective, it was you [Isabel] and Paola [and Colombia] who were the original authors of the idea of the SDGs,” she says.  

The duo talk about the upcoming COP27 conference and how collaboration一even radical collaboration一is necessary to make progress in these agitated times. 

“These are powerful times. We can cooperate,” Cavalier says. “Tension is at its peak, and yet we can cooperate.” 

“For me,” she continues, “that's essential.” 

Loss and damage—the moral case for compensating poorer countries suffering disproportionately from the climate crisis—will be at the heart of COP27. Cavalier underscores that meaningful progress will be elusive, but even having the conversation is essential. “If we can show the political will to cooperate to solve it, I think we will have come a long way,” she says.

They also discuss the current day resonance of the “Tragedy of the Commons”一19th century British writer William Forster Lloyd’s theory that acting in one’s self-interest ultimately depletes common resources upon which everyone depends. Isabel considers that our climate solution resides farther upstream than just emissions. We need to move away from the paradigm of separation to one of integration and biodiversity. Separation enables extraction, and we must return to a holistic approach to care for all life. 

“We need to be integration,” Cavelier says. A powerful idea, indeed. 

This brings them to Cavelier’s Climate Breakthrough Award, one of the field's most distinguished and groundbreaking honors. Cavalier plans to use the monetary award to help seed a new project focused on providing a culture of care for the climate community.

Finally, Christiana finishes with a preview of next week’s episode, where our three hosts will be back for a pre-COP27 lead-up, the Brazilian election, and a quick catch-up on the prospects for the midterm elections in the U.S.

​​Before we leave, give a listen to indie rock band Penelope Isles's new release, “Underwater Record Store.” 

See you next week, bye!


To learn more about our planet’s climate emergency and how you can transform outrage into optimistic action subscribe to the podcast here.

Abigael Kima

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook| YouTube | Instagram

Listen to Abbie’s Hali Hewa Podcast

Find out about Better We Better World

Isabel Cavelier Adarve

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook 

Learn more about Isabel’s award from Climate Breakthrough

Isabel’s climate action think tank is Transforma

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Read more about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Penelope Isles

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Check out their new tune “Underwater Record Store” 


Full Transcript

Christiana: [00:00:12] Hello and welcome to Outrage + Optimism. I'm Christiana Figueres. And today we have something very special for you. Much as we love Tom and Paul and you know that we do. Today we have an all female cast. I speak to climate activist Abigael Kima from Kenya about her recent visit with the Dalai Lama and to Isabel Cavelier, climate activist from Colombia, about her prestigious Climate Breakthrough award. And we have music from Penelope Isles. Thanks for being here. So today, I have two fabulous women on the show, two different generations, two different continents, both activists from the Global South, one on the front lines of youth activism, one with deep experience in multilateral policy development to accelerate action. It is so exciting to have both of them here, both good friends, and both doing truly inspirational work. But let's start with Abigael Kima, Abi, as we call her, and our listeners will remember that we had Abi here before, way back in April. So, Abi, hello, welcome back to the show.

Abigael Kima: [00:01:42] Thank you so much. It's lovely to be back and it's lovely to see you again.

Christiana: [00:01:46] So, Abby, we we had you, as I said, back in April here on the show, and you were just on the verge of launching your podcast, Hali Hewa. I remember how nervous you were, how you asked a thousand different questions about how a podcast is put together. Not that we have figured that out yet, but how how inspiring it was to watch you doing a true startup, right? You were right there at the startup moment of this fantastic podcast that seeks to provide critical African voices with a global microphone. So would love for you to bring our listeners up to date with, how has it been with your podcast? How have you found hosting it and of course what your plans are?

Abigael Kima: [00:02:41] Well, a lot has happened since we last had a conversation. And first of all, thank you for giving me an opportunity to launch my podcast on Outrage + Optimism. Like I said, a lot has happened, a lot has changed, a lot of growth. I have learned through the process as I go, because again, of course, I am not an expert, but I had to really learn by fire. But it has been such a beautiful experience just speaking to people, allowing them to speak from their hearts and telling their own stories of why they are in there doing this kind of work. So it's been beautiful to really understand people's journey, where they came from, why they do what they do, and the amazing work that they are also doing. So that has been quite a beautiful experience for me and I'd say I'm always inspired whenever I host a podcast episode. And concerning what has happened, we are on our fifth episode now, so we have five published episodes speaking to various people on issues of women, on issues of loss and damage, on activism, on indigenous people, on the on the science of climate from an African perspective, which has been quite interesting and also really trying our best to simplify and speak in a way that is relatable to the audience that we are trying to reach.

Christiana: [00:04:05] Abi, I have a little question for you. Now that you've done so many of these episodes, are you finding that you're less nervous or more nervous? Do you have to do more preparation or less preparation? How is it for you personally?

Abigael Kima: [00:04:22] I feel more relaxed if I'm being honest, because I'm like, nobody is going to beat me and I would love to be my most authentic self when I'm speaking on the podcast. So there's definitely a change and I am more relaxed now and I sort of have a rhythm of how I prepare to prepare the speaker briefs, which I obviously learned from you as well. So I'd say things are really getting better and now I have a routine that I can easily follow and be less nervous and anxious.

Christiana: [00:04:56] Yeah, great, great. That really does make a difference precisely for what you say, right? Because then you can be more authentic and your listeners can just relate much more, more directly with you. That's really quite, quite important for listeners to not feel like they are being put in a pre-cast format. True. What sorts of feedback have you gotten from your listeners?

Abigael Kima: [00:05:23] So there's definitely a good number of people listening to the podcast. And then so what I would ideally do in the coming future is to now do more grassroots stories because that is where all the action happens. That is where the real stories are. But in terms of feedback, there's really positive feedback and there's sort of an understanding, especially for those people who are not in the climate community, of what is happening. Thanks to the podcast, they now understand what COP is, why it's important, why they need to be involved, how it's impacting on their own personal life. So I'd say this really good feedback.

Christiana: [00:06:02] That's so great. Well, Abi and of course, we're now very close to the start of COP 27. Cop is coming to your continent. Coming to Africa is it does mean, of course, that African issues are going to be front and center and and and because you are so intent on getting the African voice out there, I can only imagine that you have very ambitious plans for COP 27. What are they?

Abigael Kima: [00:06:32] So in terms of what I am going to do at COP is also just bring more stories of of communities to COP. And luckily we have a good number of young people who will be present there. And so I'll also be taking some of those stories and amplifying them through the podcast and through other platforms, and then also looking to speak to different people at COP to understand their perspectives, what they would define as success out of COP 27, but also out of speaking to people in the published episodes, which are now five. Issues that have really stood out, is definitely loss and damage finance and also the delivery of of the 100 billion promise, because we really have communities that need this financing to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Yeah, and well, through the podcast I've also had an opportunity to visit communities and some of those situations are really dire and very devastating. For example, the northern part of Kenya, I was in Isiolo in August and they haven't seen rain for about two years now and there's literally no food, no water. They are not able to. I mean, the livestock are also dying and that is what they depend on as a source of livelihood. So when we talk about loss and damage, really don't expect those people to adapt to lack of food or adapt to lack of water. So just really driving the conversation around delivery of the loss and damage finance facility and also the climate finance.

Christiana: [00:08:07] Excellent.

Abigael Kima: [00:08:08] Actually, that is quite important.

Christiana: [00:08:10] Yes, those are definitely going to be crucial. Very, very difficult topics have been for years. And and they're really coming to the fore now that that Egypt is hosting this cup. Abi, before I let you go, I just wanted you to share with listeners a wonderful experience that you recently had just a few weeks ago, more or less, 180 people traveled to Dharamsala in India for a session that was organized there by the Mind and Life Institute. And as part of that session, you all had an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. You were in that group. And so you will remember that in his conversation with all of you, he reminded everyone that we pay a lot of attention to physical things, to material resources, to power, but that we don't pay enough attention to our mindset, to our inner peace, to our inner strength, and that if we don't have peace of mind, first of all, we won't be happy. But perhaps from the perspective of an activist, we cannot have our best impact on the world. And these are topics that that we also discussed and experienced at length in the recent Plum Village retreat, where you so kindly and wonderfully joined us as well. So I just wanted to bring that forward and let you share with with listeners your experience, your experience of being in Dharamsala with all these people that are devoted to their spiritual journey and, and then of. The collective audience with the Dalai Lama?

Abigael Kima: [00:10:13] Well, I think I'm still reeling from what that experience was like for me. It's the kind of experience that you can't really put words to it. But Dharamsala was beautiful. First of all, being in the mountains with very fresh air and being around such great energy was beautiful. And then during the sessions, we had such deep conversations around, I mean, conversations and teachings around being into being love starving, which are things that we normally don't speak a lot about. And then it was also very inspiring to see people who have set up organizations solely focused on kindness, which is which was quite interesting for me to see and experience, because oftentimes as an activist, whenever you go to conferences or meetings, you're you're ready to fight, you're ready, you know, you've come forward. And now being in this space meant really just being calm and really connecting with people at a very deep level. Same, which is quite similar to the experience we had at Plum Village and then with the audience with the Dalai Lama, which is something I'd probably I'd never forget immediately. He walked in. You could feel this aura of warmness and love and and he had this very warm smile and we he invited us young people to ask him questions.

Abigael Kima: [00:11:47] And all of us had different things to ask him about. And and his message was very clear. He really talked deeply about oneness being that we are all brothers and sisters. And he also talked about compassion and love and warm heartedness and in the context of of climate change and as an activist and fighting for for people and communities, he said, When we see each other as brothers and sisters, it means we cannot do something that is detrimental to the other person. We are aware of our interconnectedness and then that really inspires us from the deepest part of our hearts to do the right thing, which I feel is so important in this space, because we are always ready to fight each other over who is right, who is right, who is wrong. And we forget that, you know, at the end of the day, we are all just one. We are brothers and sisters. We are very similar. We have not so similar experiences, but we all draw from the same power and energy and we all want to live in a safe planet. So it was absolutely was quite a beautiful experience. And yeah, I loved being there.

Christiana: [00:13:04] Wonderful. Thank you. Abi, thank you very much for for sharing that. Quite a quite a life experience, one that you will remember your entire life. Thank you so much. And thank you for joining us here, Abi. All the best to to your efforts at the COP you shared with us just before we started recording that your aspiration is to do daily podcasting from COP 27. We know how much work that is. So all all the best to you. If you don't manage a daily, don't worry, don't worry. Your audience will be very loyal to you and they will they will be thrilled that you're broadcasting straight from from COP 27. So, have a good trip to Egypt to Sharm el-Sheikh.

Abigael Kima: [00:13:54] Thank you.

Christiana: [00:13:55] And and we will be listening to your broadcasting from there.

Abigael Kima: [00:14:00] Thank you. Thank you so much.

Christiana: [00:14:02] And now I would like to introduce another remarkable woman who has been working for years, tirelessly behind the scenes in the multilateral space to inform, support and inspire governments, business and finance leaders and fellow negotiators to push forward for ambitious policy on all sorts of issues related to sustainability and climate change. And you will hear the amazing array of issues that she has had her finger in and how humbly she speaks about her leadership. Isabel Cavelier is a is a good friend. She is a Colombian changemaker and she's always been motivated by a clean, just regenerative economy and society across Latin America. She co-founded and is the former executive director of Transforma, which is a Bogota based climate and ecological think tank. But she's now the founder of Mundo Común, which she is creating as a new organization to be able to capture the impressive funds that she has just received from her newly minted award. And quite impressively, she's dedicating her time, the time of her colleagues and the financial support she's received to caring for climate leaders. I think that is so impressive because I think it demonstrates the difference between female leadership and male leadership, the fact that she's prioritizing caring for climate leaders as part of her work over the next few years. So let's go to the conversation without further ado. Enjoy this remarkable conversation. Bueno. Isabel.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:16:14] Bienvenido.

Christiana: [00:16:15] I am so thrilled to have you on. Outrage + Optimism. Thank you so much for for taking the time. And I'm looking on at you on my screen, Isabel, and realizing you in Colombia are at the heart of winter and you're freezing.

Christiana: [00:16:32] And I'm going into Costa Rica summer. And I am actually quite warm today. So I think it's actually quite interesting because it speaks to the complementarity that you and I have had for so many years. I have been privileged to work with you, Isabel, for more years than I can remember. And it's always been such a pleasure, such a pleasure and such an honor to work with you because you have been so much more attentive to detail while being incredibly strategic than I am. I have to say, Isabel, that it's always so important in the climate space to have people who work as hard and who think as clearly and as strategically as you, but who do not need to take personal credit, because the moment personal credit needs to be there, we have lost the contribution of that person. And you, Isabel, for me, you absolutely exemplify that. I would actually say you are the best kept secret of the entire climate community. So this is a public gratitude to you. Thank you so much for so, so, so, so many years of your devoted service. But I would actually like to give the audience, the listeners, an opportunity to hear from you, your story. How did you even come to climate? Why? Why? You know, why have you stayed with it for such a long time? What motivates you? What what what is behind Isabel the professional? What is Isabel the personal? And and and how do you how do you turn up in the world?

Isabel Cavelier: [00:18:28] Cristina, It's really humbling to hear you say all of that. And I'm almost in tears. And the gratitude is is totally mutual. Working with you has been such a privilege and I've been so honored to shared with you and so many other professionals, men and women who have been dedicated to this in there lives. And and and so how do I show up in the world with gratitude, right? With gratitude. And from gratitude with love. And that has been a big part of our climate journey. I started working on climate change, really by the beautiful mentorship of a good friend of ours, a very bright woman, Paola Cordero, who hired me many, many years ago. And on the night before, I was starting a new job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where I was due working on social matters. I had always worked on on human rights and gender and racial issues, she said. On a Sunday night at 10 p.m, hi. We hadn't even met. We hadn't even met. I mean, we had seen each other once for an interview and she said, I, I need someone to work on climate change. I think you would be great. Would you be willing to do that? I know you're starting tomorrow, but I know you'll be great. And I said, Whoa! 10 p.m. on a Sunday night. Okay, Sure. Yeah, I'm willing. I want to learn. And so I started. I started on the next day to two weeks into the job, I, I was, I flew to Bangkok with her for the for the $6 Million agenda fight. That was a one week negotiation in Bangkok where I was completely lost in translation, like, what is this world? I didn't I had never understood anything, like I had never studied climate or anything. And I sort of really jumped into that cold water. And ever since I have I have what I have called the climate syndrome. I can I can I have I cannot stop working on this and dedicating my life energy to this because it really has connected.

Christiana: [00:20:37] It gets into your veins. You get into your energy, it gets into your veins, into your genes, and you just can't let go of it.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:20:45] It's terrible. Only later on, for example. So Paola and I collaborated in Colombia as well, role in designing the SDGs and sort of being with her in that was really amazing. I have, you know, navigated through working on sustainable development and climate and and all things.

Christiana: [00:21:05] Wait, wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Because I think you shortchanged yourself as usual. You shortchanged yourself there. I have to say, at least from my perspective, that it was you and Paola and Colombia were the original, original authors of the idea of the SDGs. That is an amazing contribution because today we're all, you know, no the little colored squares on the little the circle and all of that, that that has been such an amazing good education of the public on the SDGs. But the idea that the world had to come together on sustainable development goals and the proposal to the UN in New York and the entire negotiation of that was of course the work of thousands of people. But the idea for it and the hard work to develop the concept and then truly work for it was entirely Colombia and it was you and Paola who did this amazing work. So there again, another part of your best kept secret.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:22:26] Thank you, Christina. I cannot take credit away from Paola and her bright leadership on this and also the other amazing women in the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the Colombian government at the time, the vice minister of foreign Affairs, Patty Londono, but also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mariangela Elgin, were truly amazing at really sort of giving Paola all of what she needed to lead. And and I can only be humbled by having been part of that team that was supporting the creation of that idea. And over time, it's birth. But, but I'm full of admiration and and and humbled by having been part of a team. And I think this is what I have also come to learn through all of these years and that that is so beautiful and that is bringing me home now very deeply. And we'll come to that. And it is that it is collective wisdom. What really emerges, any good idea in the world and climate work shows us this so deeply. It connects us to our deepest ability to connect. It's redundant, but that is what it is.

Christiana: [00:23:38] And so that is correct.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:23:40] And so and especially that is a very it's all humans are able to do that. I think women have practiced that much more deeply so far. We all need to do it and men are perfectly able to do it. But I think the fact that there was that sort of amazing team of women that were connected and able to do this humbly and to emerge, the collective wisdom that that was needed to do that was a huge part of the learning. And I'm still still still learning, still doing it today. I mean, that's.

Christiana: [00:24:13] Where I'm absolutely that's where.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:24:14] I'm landing now nowadays. Yeah.

Christiana: [00:24:17] So, so like, I would love to fast forward you because I think also the Paris Agreement was such a good example of collective wisdom and collective leadership, again, especially from from women and, and really quite a quite a blessing to have participated there and have been able to fill that political moment. And here we are just a few days before COP 27 with honestly a very, very complicated geopolitical landscape with an energy crisis, with the pandemic still having its consequences over so many countries with debt, with the high prices of oil. Oil and gas and then on food. Also crippling many, many developing countries. And on top of that, so many developing countries feeling the consequences of extreme weather events that they have been having because of climate change. So so what do we do with all of that at COP 27? I must say, from my perspective, you said, well, it's not all peaches and cream and and wonderfully smelling roses for COP 27. It's going to be a very, very difficult COP. How does it look like from your perspective?

Isabel Cavelier: [00:25:48] Christiana, we are really in a public crisis and I loved hearing recently from a colleague I just met this year who said to me, these are powerful times. I found that very inspiring because if sometimes it feels like they are daunting and terrifying times, but the fact that we are really living through a crisis in what feels like a big collapse also makes these times very powerful. So, yes, COP 27 is a very difficult COP. It's not a rosy time, and at the same time it's happening at a very powerful time because we are going through all of that. And almost like in that sensation of collapse is where we can still say, well, you know, we can we can cooperate. For me, the most important challenge of this COP is it sounds almost obvious, but it's not obvious in the current situation that the world can see that humans and through their institutions, i.e. governments, can cooperate. We can cooperate. Tension is at its peak, and yet we can cooperate. We can cooperate even in the middle of the worst tension. For me, that's that's essential. Obviously, the loss and damage and adaptation agendas are top of mind for this COP. And, the hardest piece is that it doesn't seem like there's a lot of political space to move ahead on anything and on those two very hard topics. Very hard because they generally land in a conversation about money. And money, right,

Isabel Cavelier: [00:27:46] Feels scarce everywhere, including in countries that have historically been those responsible for providing assistance and providing the money and originating the flows for the most vulnerable in the world. So that makes it extremely challenging. And yet, you know, living up to the challenge means showing we can collaborate and we can cooperate, and that multilateralism, you know, is suboptimal but is cooperation. And that's an ethical principle of how we live in the world that needs to be upheld and sustained. So that's very politically as a message is very important. And second, the second challenge is can we make some progress on how are we going to be addressing the losses and the damages, not only grieving what is going to be lost and is already being lost, but also really providing the resources to reconstruct and to go through that and adapt. So so that is at the core and heart of this cop. There's obviously the need to show implementation progress. You know, COP 26 last year in Glasgow said, Hey, people is not enough to come back every five years. We need to come every year, come back every year, and showing that that is possible is essential. So the rhythm, you know, that we show rhythm is important. And that is almost like how we can be steady in the rhythm increase. So all of those are important political messages that are going to have their technical conversations that obviously have their difficulties in landing.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:29:21] But to me, I think the most important is, again, we can cooperate and loss and damage. Yes, hard, hard to have the money, but let's be willing to cooperate. Let's open the door. Right. If I'm if I'm a country if I were a country in the global so called global north, or that is more privileged than others, the willing, the coming to the COP with a willingness to cooperate and say, yes, let's have the conversation. It's hard for me. I don't know how I'm going to convince my electorate and my treasury, but let's cooperate to do this. Open up. The conversation is essential, and it's a show that we can have faith in cooperation. We're not there yet. And I hope that in these next weeks that are coming up, that that kind of attitude towards COP can be built up the two week. We cannot build too many high expectations for the two weeks because the situation is very dire. And that's that's that's that's an honest truth that we need to face. The energy transition is looking harder and harder. And with it, the food system crisis is looking harder and harder and the COP is not going to solve it all. It's probably not going to solve a 10th. But if it can show the political willingness to cooperate to solve it, I think we've come a long way in the situation we currently are.

Christiana: [00:30:45] I love that you're emphasizing this collaboration. And Isabel, as you know, when we were both working on something that we called Mission 2020, we developed the concept of radical collaboration, because that is that is what we need to radically collaborate across all kinds of boundaries, boundaries of countries, boundaries of sectors, boundaries of gender, North-South, etc., etc.. You know, the radical collaboration and stepping out of these artificially constructed silos that take us absolutely nowhere. So radical collaboration is absolutely the the need right now. And I have recently been thinking, Isobel, and would love to hear your thoughts. How do we how do we engender that radical collaboration? It seems to me that we have to be able to shift our mindset out of the concept of the tragedy of the commons that we have been living with since the 1970s, the tragedy of the Commons, and that thought and that concept that everyone is individualistic minded and that no one really pays attention to that which is common to all of those. Change our mindset from the tragedy of the commons to the necessity of the commons, because that is what we are now discovering, that in fact, instead of working against each other or staying in our silos, we have to work with each other because we need the commons, because we depend on the commons, because it is the commons from which we get our food, our air, our water. And here I actually want to put the packages of COP 27 Climate and COP 15 on biodiversity together into one conceptual package because they are both discussing the Commons this year, one right on the heels of the other. So to move, Load More

Christiana: [00:32:54] Conceptually from accepting that the tragedy of the Commons has to continue, if that continues, we will write a very destructive history of the Anthropocene. If we are able to change that, to realize the necessity of the commons, which I think we're starting to get there. And the SDG is certainly were the first step as well as the Paris Agreement. And I hope that we can now at COP 15 get to a global biodiversity framework with 30 by 30. But it stems from a very different concept of why are we here and what do we need to change in order to continue as a human race to be here and and to be a part of the web of life on this planet? So the move from the tragedy of the commons to the necessity of the Commons would love to hear your reaction to that.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:33:55] Christiana, it brings me home because I have been deeply, trying to deeply understand the very source, the most upstream source of the situation we're in. It's not it's not emissions. Emissions is the output, right? Emissions is the output. And no matter how much we try to mitigate, we will never, never solve the situation if we don't go upstream to the very source of the situation. That is the paradigm upon which our entire civilization is based and it is the paradigm of separation. We need to move away from that or rather reverse that into a paradigm of integration. And I'll talk more about that. But coming to COP 15 and COP 27, I used to be this is this is interesting. I used to be one of those negotiators. When you're deep into that weed and you're like, Oh, how do you how can you possibly imagine that you can merge some complex things that it's just going to make that worse? It's just going to make both world world's worst, right? That used to be me. I'm like, Oh, keep it separate. Please don't let it almost like contaminate. Don't, don't let it pollute each other. And nowadays, I am heartened to see that more and more we can understand that biodiversity and climate change, you know, matters is just one and the same thing. And that integration is not only important, it's necessary that we need to understand the two as two angles to address the same situation, that without solving one, we won't solve the other, that 30 by 30 is essential to solve climate, and that solving climate is essential to solving biodiversity.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:35:38] And I, I almost have like a little discomfort when I say solving X or Y because it's also a very mechanistic approach. We need to and when you say how do we move from the tragedy of the commons to the necessity of the commons? My answer is we need to be to we need to be it to emerge that culture, be that culture. And what does that mean if you're a negotiator going to COP 15 or to COP 27, or if you're a lawyer working in an oil and gas company, or if you simply are a potter in your studio, in all of those situations, you can start being the culture of integration and think, okay, how how do I integrate climate and biodiversity in either COP? How does that look systemically in the two regimes? Can we build deeper integration in the in the in the in the regimes? Structurally, I think we can we've been afraid of doing it, But I think we need to we need to do it. How can we do more science together? IPBS and IPCC. We feel a little bit, you know, doubtful we should I think we shouldn't be afraid of moving towards more integration. And so I am more an advocate of integration nowadays. And yes, I'm hoping 30 by 30 is agreed at COP 15. It's a necessity. But I also hope that in both COP's, I think it started already last year with COP 26, but I think it can get much deeper. I hope political messaging in both COP's moves towards integration, even structurally. Even architecturally.

Christiana: [00:37:15] Yeah. So, so interesting. So for listeners when we say 30 by 30, just quick explanation, what we need mean is that there is the intent, although not just approved in the global biodiversity negotiations, to get to an agreement to protect 30% of our planet's surface, which includes land and ocean by 2030. So the shorthand for that is 30 by 30, and that is currently being supported by about a little bit over 100 countries, but will be put to the test at COP 15 that takes place in Montreal in early December. But that just as as a little parenthesis to what we're talking about here to come back to your journey is I will I am so with you on that journey. I remember when I was trying to separate and keep things separate because it's too complicated and yes, please, you know, it's it's more it's difficult enough. Please don't come get it for them. And I have come full swing, full swing to the other side to understand, as you say, that these are two sides of of the same issue and that just like a piece of paper has two sides of the paper. And you cannot divide if you just try to divide a piece of paper and you can't.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:38:38] I would even say it's two of the many sides, right? That is not just two. And we in the climate community tend to feel climate as the primary angle even.

Christiana: [00:38:53] Yes.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:38:53] And even those of us who are very like nature oriented, we think of these two angles and it's just two of the many. And so that is we must start thinking our complex reality in a complex way and understand that climate is one of the angles. Biodiversity one of the angles, equity, social equity, one of the angles, right?

Christiana: [00:39:17] Gender, racism, patriarchy.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:39:20] And it's exactly justice.

Christiana: [00:39:23] And yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, totally. And what is interesting, what is odd, Isabelle, is that it is our little brain, right in our infinite wisdom that has separated these into concepts so that we can deal with them. But now that we have understood them as separate issues, now the time has come to reintegrate them. Because when you look out there into nature and into society, nature doesn't separate this right. For nature, it's nature must be laughing at us going, ha ha ha. They think that oceans and land and and biodiversity and, you know, our human dependence on this land are all separate issues. They're not so, so. So yes, we have shied away from, from a what we think is a complexity. And actually it's not a complexity. It is much more a reflection of the reality.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:40:15] Isn't it fun? Christiana We still refer to nature as something there that thinks about us.

Christiana: [00:40:20] Yes, as if it.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:40:21] Were outside of it like we are.

Christiana: [00:40:23] Yes, we are.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:40:24] We are. Which means we can be integrated and integrative as nature is, because that's we are. We are that we are it.

Christiana: [00:40:33] Yeah. Exactly. Inter-being, inter-being. So that brings me, Isabel to your amazing award that I would like to congratulate you for. You have recently been awarded the Climate Breakthrough Award. One of the most distinguished and and truly. groundbreaking awards in the field. And it's it's very, very inspiring what you have said that you would like to do with this award. On the on the one hand, well, I don't want to put actually, why don't you explain it? Because I was going to say there are two pillars, I think, from from what you want to do with this award, which is a a a huge one of the largest actually monetary awards in the field and has to be put to good use. My sense is that you have two pillars. But why don't I let you discuss? Because it's very related to what we've just been talking about. But please do share with us what you're planning to do with your Climate Breakthrough Award.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:41:46] Thank you, Christiana, and thank you very much for for for referring to that. Yeah, it's been a very long journey and I want to say that that it wouldn't have been possible at all to to be where we are and to have received that award. That is humbling, really. If it were not for the beautiful work that I've done with other brilliant women, and I want to mention them by name, including Andrea Guerrero and Maria Laura Rojas, with whom years ago. We've been working together and with whom we years ago we founded a think tank in Colombia called Transforma. That is that is flourishing. And and it's it's it's been really humbling working with them together. But yeah it's it's it's been a very interesting journey to think about what would what it would do or what what I do with this what we because it will be collective like anything that can emerge wisely needs to be collective. Because, at first our prompt was you, you can think about anything that reduces a lot of emissions in ten years. And so we went into thinking, how do we reduce a lot of emissions? Is this the real problem to what I was saying earlier, what is causing this? And we went all the way upstream to what are the paradigms upon which our civilization is based that is causing this problem? And there are many paradigms, but the probably the two that we came most upstream was one separation. So let's reverse that to integration. And two, because we separate, we can be extractive stick. Is that a word in English? We can extract from?

Christiana: [00:43:29]  It is now!

Isabel Cavelier: [00:43:30] From otherness, right? If something is other than me that I can extract. So separation to integration and extractivism to care to a civilization that is based on care is what we need. And so how do we do that? I thought we need to stop talking about it. We need to be that we need to be the change of culture to shift the culture.

Christiana: [00:43:54] Back to Mahatma Gandhi.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:43:56] Yes, exactly.

Christiana: [00:43:58] Be the change that you want to see.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:43:59] And so the place to land was let's be a system of care for those who are in the front of the of the action to reduce emissions. And that is mostly not only but it's many women who are out there who feel probably the need to be connected and cared for and who can who are already doing amazing things and whose power can be unleashed at scale just by being better connected and better cared for. So what we will do is to precisely design a prototype and then a pilot, and then ideally as sort of worldwide wide scale up of a care system that can be basically deployed anywhere in any project through any kind of of of of initiative. My vision is that in the future, any project, just as we think about, you know, what's going to be your monitoring and evaluation module or, or or or what's going to be your KPI for this project, its end, what's going to be your system of care for this project so that any time an initiative is pursued, there is a system of care that includes embodied restoration of our nervous system, that includes the system, the network, the support network that gets you connected to others in your field that are working on it. That includes the building of the capacity you need to do whatever you are aiming at in contributing to to solving the climate crisis. That includes a better access to the resources, including the financial resources that you need for your initiative. And that also includes personal security, because in many parts of the world, and I cannot be blind to the fact that I live in the country where it's probably the most dangerous country to be a climate activist in the world. So we need to care for each other.

Christiana: [00:46:03] In fact, environmental activists in general, not just climate.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:46:06] Not just criminal. Yeah, and social, not just climate. It's all the same. It's all the same. So. And so in doing that, that we start seeing a culture of care that in turn becomes the norm. And that in doing that, obviously we I want to design a system that captures all of the culture that we are being and puts it out in the world, hopefully in Spanish and other languages, not just in English. We're so Anglophone in this community, but there's so much happening in in other in other languages that that I want to be able to contribute to. And ideally that spreads and becomes becomes what we are a culture and a civilization that is based on care and integration and not one that is based on separation and extraction. In a nutshell.

Christiana: [00:46:58] So, so beautifully said. I couldn't agree with you more. I often think how much energy we put into addressing drought because we see drought happening and we see desertification happening, but we don't put enough attention or equal attention to our inner drought. Yes. And so many of us are experiencing or have experienced inner drought because the work that we do is very, very tough. And if we do not care for ourselves in each other, we shrivel up, we burn out, we burn down. And and so that inner taking care of that inner drought and becoming inwardly as resilient as we want our planet to be is definitely the the way to go here. And I truly celebrate that you are focusing on that because we're not going to get to planetary resilience unless we go through inner resilience. And and those two are so interrelated.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:48:07] So much and Christina, when you think about it, we have been reproducing in the way we work and in the way we relate to each other and in the way we address the problem, we've been reproducing those very same patterns. So when we relate to, let's say, the fossil fuel devil, quote unquote, we do it in separation, we forget it's human beings behind those. Yeah, those companies. And yes, they need to change. And yes, we need to sort of completely reverse the entire economic system that is based on that. Yes. And it will be hard. Yes. But it's the people, right? It's the beings. It's the plants, is the animals, is the water is the and we all are collectively wise to be in the world in a different way. So we need to, as a community, start by being ourselves in a different way, in caring for ourselves differently, in saying, yeah, we don't need to burn out, we don't need to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, We can do this at a rhythm that is our natural rhythm. And I think as we do that magic will happen. We will start emerging it. There is no other way. If we repeat the patterns, we will only re-entrench the situation. So that's why,

Christiana: [00:49:25] So agree with you. 

Isabel Cavelier: [00:49:27] Is let's change it. So agree we can do it now to.

Christiana: [00:49:29] Change the way we do it now.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:49:30] Yes, we can do it now in everything we do.

Christiana: [00:49:33] Well, Isabel, I would obviously could continue this conversation endlessly with you. And we can let's do that off all off the podcast. But sadly, we have to come to an end and we have a little tradition and Outrage + Optimism that we ask all our guests at the end what what makes you still outraged, but also what makes you hopeful and optimistic?

Isabel Cavelier: [00:50:04] Injustice still makes me outraged. Every day. Our human capacity for being unjust and for harming others. Human and more than human, makes me very outraged. And what makes me optimistic is that I see I see blooming seeds all around the world of a new culture where humans and more than humans, all species are truly ready to collaborate, to emerge something new. And it's very powerful to feel that I can see that and that we can be a part of it. That makes me completely optimistic. And I stopped being anxious about our ecological situation. I started being thrilled and inspired and full of energy to create, to be the emergence artistically, but also intellectually, emotionally and also intuitively and rationally. And with my hands in the soil and in the in the clay.

Christiana: [00:51:27] Well, I won't show you my fingernails because I've just spent many days in the soil and having a lot of fun with that. Isabel, Thank you. It was lovely to have this conversation with you. I think our listeners are going to be thrilled. Thank you so.

Isabel Cavelier: [00:51:44] I'm humbled, thank you.

Christiana: [00:51:46] And I will be in touch with you. In fact, right after we stop recording, because I want to make a proposal to you, but off camera. So thank you very much for this. Thank you. Thanks very much.

Christiana: [00:52:01] And I will talk to you very soon.

Christiana: [00:52:12] So what a beautiful conversation with Isabel. As I said before, I shared the conversation with listeners. I am so taken by the fact that Isabel and her colleagues have recognized the urgent need to take care of ourselves, to take care of others. If there is something that is prevalent among all of us who are working in the climate space and the biodiversity space, in the gender space, in any of the injustices and the crisis that we are witnessing right now, it is burnout. Because these are huge issues and we're bringing our entire selves to it and we are so motivated and so passionate about the work that we do that we completely devote ourselves to the topic. And we tend to address the topic from a technical point of view. If it's climate change, we look at emissions, if it's desertification, we look at drought, if it's biodiversity, we look at species that we are losing on and on. But we do it first, focusing on the issue from our head. And, not complimenting it from our heart. And, also we are so outside focused on the work that has to be done there that we tend to forget that it is equally important to tend to ourselves inside. And that's why I brought that out.

Christiana: [00:53:49] That message that the Dalai Lama shared with colleagues and friends who were there with him, because he also reminds us that we have to tend to our inner garden if we want to create a regenerated garden out of the planet. And those two things have to go hand in hand. Yes, we need bold leadership. Yes, we need to go out there and make the changes that are necessary, but we have to be able to take care of ourselves and take care of others. So that combination of being out there and doing the tough, tough work that needs to be done, but also being able to step inside and ensure that we are replenishing ourselves, that we're not causing inner drought as we're working on the outer drought. That we're not causing inner loss as we're working on the outer loss. It is such an important balance to reach and so difficult, so difficult to reach because we're always feel like we don't deserve this. We feel even guilty about taking time to think about ourselves. But I think more and more people are coming around to the realization that this is not a sprint, this is a marathon, and we have to take care of ourselves and of others if we actually want to run the race to its final goal.

Christiana: [00:55:24] So how wonderful to see that Isabel has decided to make that one of her main aims with the award, the monetary award that she and her colleagues have received. And how wonderful to see that there is more and more realization around the world about that. So with those thoughts, I would like to bring this episode to a close, thanking again, Abi for her work, thanking Isabel for her amazing leadership. Excited for the future that both of them are stepping into. Thank you so much to Tom and Paul for allowing a completely female cast this week. We are all three of us will be back together for a pre-COP 27 episode next week. We will be looking at the Brazilian election. We will be doing a quick catch up on the prospects for the midterm elections in the United States and of course, bringing you an update on what we are seeing as we enter into the first week of the COP 27 negotiations. So folks, that's it for this week. And do stay on for a track from the group Penelope Isles entitled Underwater Record Store. See you next week. Bye.

Lily: [00:56:58] Hi. This is Lily from Penelope Isles. The song we have chosen to record live for you guys is a song called Underwater Record Store, which is from our first album, Until the Tide Creeps In. You may have guessed by those titles, that Jack and I are big fans of the sea, and we're very lucky to have been brought up on the Isle of Man and go to uni in Cornwall and Brighton, and we love surfing and sea creatures. It felt right to choose this song purely on the title as it is about an underwater record store inspired by a dream, but potentially could be our future if we carry on going the way we're going, which is terribly pessimistic of me, but something that needs to be talked about. So thank you guys for making this podcast. Enjoy the tune. Lots of love.

Clay: [01:01:46] So there you go. Another episode of Outrage + Optimism. The track you just heard was Underwater Record Store by Penelope Isles. Penelope Isles. I just watched their KEXP performance and their audio tree performance on YouTube. What a talented duo. Jack and Lily Wolter are, and they interview them kind of halfway through. They're so genuinely they're such genuinely nice people. Lily is who you heard introduced herself, the band and the song Underwater Record Store at the beginning. Thank you to Penelope Isles for letting us spin your track and thank you for actually for recording this special version that we can play on the podcast. How amazing is that? It's kind of like our own little KEXP, Audio Tree just for you. In the spirit of more live music, you can watch those two performances. I mentioned KEXP and Audio Tree in the show notes of this episode just an absolute masterclass in alt-rock and psychedelic live music making. They really do a fantastic job of highlighting the human music, making potential in a track performance driven world. So this would be a fantastic band to go see live. Penelope Isles, everyone. Penelope Isles. Well, hello friends. I'm Clay, producer of this podcast and I love music. It's such a joy to have music on the podcast. I hope you're all enjoying the music as much as we are. And okay, let's roll into the rest of the credits here.

Clay: [01:03:21] This week we have a very special, exciting opportunity with limited availability for Outrage + Optimism listeners. So you listeners are invited to join a new free program run by our friends at Crossing Borders Education. It's called the COP 27 Civic Imagination Lab. It's been developed in partnership with Cisco, Purdue University and UNESCO's Education for Sustainable Development. Let me explain just a little bit about what it is and what does taking part in it look like. So the Civic Imagination Lab is part of COP 27. It's this global virtual community building initiative focused on climate action. Now it offers a new interactive way to explore climate solutions, creating much needed space for dialogue through authentic storytelling. If you want to take part in this program, it's three online sessions. You will experience empathetic dialogue, intercultural communication and storytelling activities in smaller groups of about 4 to 12 people, and that will model how to connect deeply and engage actively within a virtual international community. So if you've been listening to this podcast for a while and been looking for a way to engage in a climate solution, here it is. The sessions will draw on media content from Outrage + Optimism, The TED Climate Countdown and National Geographic. So I know I said it before, but there's only a few spots, so make sure you get over there. Hopefully this is piqued your interest. You can register by the 31st of October.

Clay: [01:05:03] That's this upcoming Monday. Here's the website. CrossingBorders.Education/Professionals. Now bespoke URLs are a dime a dozen. So just go to the show notes here for this episode. Click on the link there. And actually, I was thinking about it. I don't really know why they have professionals at the end. Don't let that intimidate you in any way. When you arrive on the site after clicking the link, you'll see a trailer for the program. You can watch the trailer. At the bottom of the page is the button to register. Again. It's free and there are only a few spots. I think that's the third time I've said this, so please go before the end of October 31st on Monday, register up, check it out. And if you do this right into me, let me know how it was. Sounds really cool. So I'd be interested to hear what your experience was. Great. Thank you to our guests this week, Abigael Kima and Isabela Cavelier. Be sure to check out their social links below Abi's podcast, of course, and stay up to date with Isabela's socials to hear more about [01:06:13] Mundo Komen. [01:06:15] Oh, and this Friday, tomorrow we're publishing an episode of Hali Hewa, which is Abi's podcast right here on our feed. So stay tuned for that and go subscribe to her show. Check it out. She's going to be posting throughout COP 27, the title of the podcast.

Clay: [01:06:32] Again, Hali Hewa, wherever you get your podcasts. Links in the show notes. Always got you on that. All right. Let me grab my phone real quick. Speaking of badass women, I have right here a voice note from our very own Freya long awaited by listeners. I'm very excited about this, long awaited by listeners around the world, and I can't wait to play it for you. But real quick, let me catch up any listeners on this saga who have forgotten the full story because it's been a minute since this all started. So Freya finished her master's and her master's research got published in Nature Communications. The link to that published research hit the Global Optimism Group chat. Several team members like myself attempted to read it, but it being very scientific, I got lost in what some would call air quotes here, "big words". The title you ask 'Nocturnal plant respiration is under strong non temperature control'. So I invited Freya onto the podcast to explain in less than 60 seconds. Or she could nominate one Canadian citizen to explain it because as we found out on their podcast, Canadians have this unique ability to speak plainly and normally about scientific findings. Anyway, Freya without hesitation, nominated Justin Trudeau. That's that happened then. This voice note appears on my phone, so I'm just going to. Let's just listen. I'm going to play it for you. Here we go.

Freya: [01:08:07] Okay. So the headline is, we have been modeling plant respiration wrong our entire lives. And if anybody is still listening at this point, they're probably thinking, so what? But plant respiration is a really important process that moves carbon throughout Earth's system. And it's important because it determines how much carbon is stored in our terrestrial ecosystems and our forests. So we need to be able to model plant respiration in order to accurately predict future climate change. So the overall application of the study is cool and pretty important. But yeah, I basically became nocturnal and collected all these crazy measurements from sunset to sunrise and use those to develop a new formula for plant respiration that we can put into models and yeah, better model the carbon cycle and predict future climate change. And there you go. I'm sorry, I couldn't get Justin Trudeau.

Clay: [01:09:03] Okay. Wow. There it is. The conclusion. Freya, Thank you. It makes perfect sense. Totally worth the wait on that update. I hope listeners will join me in forgiving you for not being able to get Justin Trudeau on the podcast. But hey, great job. Thank you, Freya. And listeners, now that you know this, I've got a link to the research in the show notes. Please send to your favorite scientist. You've got this in your back pocket. I know it's going to come in handy at some point. Can't wait to see where this research goes from here. Thank you, Freya. Okay, that's it. Thanks for listening. Tomorrow, you'll hear an episode of Hali Hewa here on the podcast feed. And we'll be back next Thursday for regularly scheduled programming. Cop 27 is, oh, I just realized November is next week. Wow. Cop 27 is in less than two weeks. It's right around the corner. So hit subscribe and we'll be right here in your podcast feed. I have emails to send. I got to go. Bye.


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