Natasha Barnes - Newsletter Editor (BSc, University of Bristol, UK)

As a child raised in England, I was encouraged to climb trees, swim in the sea, find insects and explore woodlands. These formative experiences led me to intuitively understand myself as related to the world around me, and to appreciate the high price that environmental degradation would cost us all.

Naturally as the climate crisis unfolded whilst I was growing up, and as I became aware of conversations around environmentalism, it seemed my path was leading towards a degree in Geography. As such, in 2015 I began studying at the University of Bristol, and then abroad at the University of Western Australia before graduating in 2019.

Retrospectively this degree route was a great choice, aligning my interests in experiential knowledge, nature, mental health, and fulfilled a desire to better understand the world from a scientific standpoint. Aside from time spent in Perth, WA, my dissertation project was a particular highlight of my degree. I chose to research the therapeutic qualities of urban community gardens as I found people’s relationships with place, wellbeing, food and growing increasingly of interest. Food and wellbeing are vital fields within the UN’s SDGs, as questions asking how can we sustainably and healthily feed everyone, eliminate hunger, improve growing practices, address growing rates of mental and physical illness, and minimise our environmental impacts whilst doing so, remain to be answered.

Looking forward, in my work with the youth council as Editor of the Newsletter and with the UNAC&O more generally, I hope to explore these questions and better understand how creative expression can be employed within climate and social activism. Specifically, I hope to bring a perspective to projects which encourages creative means to better understand ideas and emotions, learn from each other and bridge gaps in understanding, and to imagine different ways to address the SDG goals.

Overall, I am excited to see what working as part of the international youth council with our varied perspectives and passionate drive will lead us to achieve.