For the 2022-2023 Technovation Girls season, we were very excited to work with several Technovation Girls alumnae to create apps focused on sustainability. The process of creating these apps helped us write new curriculum units that addressed specific environmental issues as well as tips and resources for building environmental apps more generally. You can explore the curriculum units here, but we also wanted to share the experiences of the incredible young women who helped us create the curriculum. Meet Arlen Amezcua, who alongside fellow alumna Giovanna Romero, developed an app to educate users of all ages about biodiversity and how they can take action to protect it.
Tell us about yourself!
Hello! I’m Arlen Amezcua from Mexico, I’m 24 and I’m interested in contributing to and being involved with environmental projects.
When did you first become interested in sustainability/climate activism—was it something specific?
At home my mother always taught me to respect nature and other beings, to take care of them. As I grew up and became aware of the world around me and the problems that existed, I felt the need to collaborate on something that had an impact larger than just my home. When I was 16, I joined “Technovation Girls” and developed my first project on environmental issues. With that project I acquired knowledge and interest that I have continued to develop until today.
Tell us a bit about your experience with Technovation as a student and how it led to you working on this new climate curriculum!
When I participated in Technovation Girls for the first time, I was very excited because I had never seen a contest like this before, plus I had the opportunity to meet technology companies in Guadalajara and begin to be closer to what technology really is. I also acquired knowledge and tools that continue to help me today. When I received the offer to continue contributing and now work on a more solid project I did not think twice, because being part of Technovation always leads to new learning experiences and opportunities. Undoubtedly this last contribution was very favorable because it was a project that was worked 100% online, a multidisciplinary and international team, and done hand-in-hand with a global organization, IUCN. During the project I was applying new technologies, doing research work, design, constant presentations and preparing material that is out of what I normally do every day.
Can you explain your project? Why did you want to focus on biodiversity?
When talking about climate change we can focus on different areas—today most of the information that people have about the subject is how the temperature is increasing, growing water scarcity, and that we should use less plastic. People may have heard about species going extinct, but do not really identify what is happening with it, or think it is less important than other issues.
An ecosystem is composed of various living beings and if we lose any or increase any we cause an imbalance which has many consequences. Of the different living beings on this planet the most vulnerable are the animals and plants, because they are beings that do not govern the world or make decisions. Our responsibility as humans is to protect them and maintain the balance that we ourselves have unbalanced in recent decades—for that we need to get involved and study ecosystems and environmental science. However, not all people are going to take a university course or go to school for 3-4 years Which is why Giovanna and I built “WeHeroes”. WeHeroes is a tool that educates users so that they can learn to identify threats to ecosystems and their biodiversity and take action to preserve and balance species in those ecosystems. We built it with the intention that anyone of any age, regardless of their area of study, would be able to learn and act to preserve biodiversity.
“WeHeroes” can be used for many audiences, from preschool education to professional areas—for example, often in Mexico, areas are built or exploited without first conducting environmental impact studies to learn what flora and fauna are being impacted. Another example is Colombia, where the drug trafficker Pablo Escobar illegally trafficked hippopotamus in the 80’s, they escaped, and now Colombia is dealing with a large population of hippos, which are invasive to the area. If people knew which species do not occur in their region, they could avoid invasive overpopulation by notifying the corresponding authorities if they see a non-native species.
What did you learn (both about how to be a more responsible consumer as well as technology that can help us do that?)
I believe that control in consumption is more than just contributing to saving the environment or saving money, it is also healthy for our minds. We learn to occupy less space and we free space to appreciate that which is not material, we begin to really live and our physical spaces are more liberated and calm. Technology helps us to obtain information in moments and to connect with the world, to develop projects without borders from all possible perspectives and cultures, which at the end of the day, generates projects that solve global problems and needs.
Did you learn about climate change, sustainability, or climate action in school? If so, what did you think of it?
Not really, until I began to study at university and was very focused on environmental regulations from a more industrial perspective, but the reality is that if we do not get general prior information at an early age, we don’t have the same awareness. That is why today industries continue to infringe on laws and cause negative impacts on nature. At the beginning I felt quite sad that such an important topic was given so little importance, but with time I decided to see it as an opportunity for improvement and to continue learning in spite of everything and share it so that at some point my university community and people in general could obtain more and better information.
What do you think we should be teaching young people about climate change?
First its meaning and the consequences it generates, then the main reasons that cause it, and finally how to contribute to addressing it, so that when we teach it, it’s beyond a subject that stays in school, but affects daily live.
What do you think young people can teach the world about climate change and sustainability?
To see technology as a tool and not as a threat, to show that multidisciplinary teams work better, that having the availability to listen and understand before acting provides better decision making. And that optimizing our daily lives allows for a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
What tools or resources would you suggest to girls who are also interested in sustainability, technology, and combating climate change? Where should they go to learn more?
I recommend getting involved in environmental summits that arise mainly from the government of each country as well as student clubs that promote this type of information. Participate in movements and conferences, and obtain information mainly from scientific articles and governmental pages.
What do you hope changes in the next 15 years, for girls, the climate, and the world?
I see an evolution in professions, they will not disappear but will evolve, and there will be many more jobs related to environmental issues. Business managers will change their way of governing to have greater integration of the entire population and to pay more attention to the environment. Companies will generate services and products taking into account environmental impacts. I do not see gender discrimination in any role. Companies will also evolve, not by taste but by necessity— for example, the fashion industry.