Isabella Villanueva

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30, Changemaker Grantee

President
NGO CEUS Chile

2021 EE 30 Under 30 Changemaker Grant Project
Youth Voices for OUR Ecological Constitution

Youth Voices for OUR Ecological Constitution will generate a series of meetings in all regions of Chile so that young people can define a position on the new Constitution that the country will write on environmental issues. This, coupled with a process of training and advocacy with the elected constituents, will help bring together the vision of youth from all parts of the country to build an Ecological Constitution, as well as empowering young people to be part of public discussions and democratic processes, while building long-term capacity and knowledge.

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EE 30 Under 30 Biography

Santiago, Chile
Age: 26

Isabella is a civil engineer who connects students and young professionals across Chile who represent the many aspects of sustainability.

How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities? 

Environmental education has been the way we position sustainability as a fundamental issue in Chilean youth. Through education, I have been able to involve young people who were not previously interested in the subject of sustainability, and this has allowed me to create the NGO CEUS Chile, a powerful network of young Chileans who work on this issue. For example, at CEUS Chile we started an annual congress as a space for training and knowledge generation on sustainable development.

I have discovered, with the passage of time, that environmental education is a powerful message that we must take everywhere. But for young people in particular, it empowers them, gives them tools, increases their knowledge, and transforms them into agents of change.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. 

This has been the most amazing journey of my life. Becoming a young woman leader working for sustainability and against the climate crisis was one of the greatest decisions that I have made. Not just because it is what makes me happy, but because I have learned amazing things and I have met amazing people.

I remember exactly the moment that changed my life. It was a class on meteorology with Laura Gallardo, a Chilean female scientist, where we were learned about climate change and how it is a complex problem with multidimensional causes. That day I opened my eyes and I realized that we need everybody to stop this and all crises.

Since then, I work full time on this. Before as a student, and now as a professional. Because when you decide to be part of something, it becomes your life. And this, for sure, is my life.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

Be brave. Do the impossible.

We need more young people to commit to their own fights: environment, gender, equality, peace, and many others.

No matter what the world is telling you to do, you should be and do whatever you believe in. It can be difficult, and maybe sometimes you will want to quit. And, in those moments, you must remember why you started. While we are young—and even when we are not anymore—our motivation, our goals, and our dreams are our most powerful weapons.

You will have doubts. And you will feel fear. And it is normal. Being brave is not to have no fears, it is to face them and to fight them. And when we want to build a better world, there is a lot of fear. But you will reach it – we will.

What keeps you motivated, inspired, and/or hopeful for the future?

First of all, women. All my life I have been inspired by women. In my family, in school and university, and even by women that I don’t know.

Then, youth. And in particular, my team in CEUS Chile keeps me motivated these days: their strength, power, and hope for a better world, and how they transform that motivation into work and positive change. It is something that you can't ignore and that you can get inspiration from all the time. I believe that youth are not just our future, but our present. And I am pretty lucky to see it every day.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

The superpower to protect and to empower girls and women from all over the world, because we need us. All of us.