Youth Making Waves: Eugenia Barroca

During my small journey I have been always connected with the sea. Even when I was only able to say some words, I already knew how to spell “I want to study the sea and all the fishes.” Most of my life I didn’t completely understand the deep passion and connection that I had always felt with the ocean. Just a few years ago I realized that the experiences I had in the first years of my life had strong influences on my personality. In the first few months of my life, my parents took their diving course and I also went on a family boat trip, memories that have stayed deeply inside me. I believe that the ocean is my memory of love, because it was by the beach that I spent the best family moments in my childhood. Since then I have lived in four different cities of Portugal, understanding that my roots and my home are my family and our love.  

From volunteering to amazing opportunities like internships with Ciência Viva, I started learning the basic methods of science to find the answers to my questions. Around my 16𝑡 birthday I had some essential questions about the way we live as a society. I understood that the way we were living was unsustainable and that our education was focused more on production than conservation. So I initiated a search for sustainable life-styles, finding permaculture as my first answer. After my first job as a waitress, I engaged in a one-month-trip around several permaculture farms in Portugal. I discovered the answers to many of my questions: How to build with natural and non-polluting materials? How to create a cycle of water purification supported by plants? How to integrate our home’s waste in the natural cycle? How to cultivate food while respecting the ecosystem’s balance? And also, how to have a natural, free and complete learning process? After I found these answers my way of seeing life changed completely. I understood that after all I was born free and I could live free, by taking responsibility of my place in the natural cycle. During the gap year I took before going to university I participated at the citizens and stakeholders’ consultation’s phase of Sea for Society project, where several different Portuguese citizens discussed the ocean’s problems and together, tried to find solutions. Three years after that event, I was invited to be part of the European Youth at the final presentation of Sea for Society to the European Parliament. That event truly enriched my vision, by seeing what we as youth can develop together.  

I am currently studying Marine Biology at the University of Algarve, in Portugal. The reason I chose to study this was for my desire to understand how each ecosystem functions and their interconnectivity, so that I could know the best way to help ocean’s life to flourish. Regarding the world’s oceans, I think that we should be urgent to change our society’s future perspective. I commonly hear that we need to increase production in order to sustain the increasing world’s population, but I disagree with this statement. Nowadays, in this capitalist society, developed countries are increasing production and wasting the resources of developing countries, ending in the rise of someone’s profits, the increase of waste and the growth of inequality. I believe that we should focus on the distribution and management of resources. We should aim to have self- sustaining countries, and deliver the extra resources to countries with a lack of resources. The first stage is to restore our ecosystems. In the oceans, I believe this can be achieved by ending industrial fisheries and educating local fishermen, increasing marine protected areas, and interconnecting conscious aquaculture with the recovery of fish’s stocks.

 I think that this is the time for us to unite as human beings and start to take care of our planet’s health like never before. With my past experiences I had understood that together, youth have a lot of “change power” which is something that has to be appropriately communicated and consciously listened to. Once I read the goals of World Oceans Day I knew that was the kind of organization that I was looking for. One with interconnectivity and action. I decided to apply to Youth Advisory Council because I knew that it would lead to a road of learning, sharing, protecting and growing, as a human and as a community. I see the World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council as an opportunity to grow and to improve my views, to learn with each other and to plan and implement a better present. 

If I am allowed to dream, I dream with a green and blue planet, where humans live in self-sustainable communities with importantvalues like love, respect and solidarity as basis, with big forests full of life, rivers interconnecting land with ocean, and our communities respecting the space of all nature’s elements. I think that the solution lies within observing nature’s solutions and the pattern that I see are the “webs,” the interconnectivities created in order to achieve a greater balance. So that is how I see World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council, an opportunity to be a part of a bigger web for a better planet.  

Eugenia Barroca 16-Nov-2016