Published: 09 Dec 2021

Thalia De-Fatima Salsinha Soares: Everyone Should Care About Environmental Issues

Climate change. That is an issue that has caught the attention of Thalia De-Fatima Salsinha Soares, alumni of the Environmental Engineering Study Program, President University (PresUniv), batch 2017, who graduated in 2021. Thalia, as she is called, is a student from Timor Leste. She is currently the Project Coordinator of the Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) at Plan International Timor-Leste (PITL). CCA is an EU-funded project to strengthen the capacity of local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on climate change adaptation.

Thalia has joined PITL since mid-June 2021. In the CCA project, Thalia is responsible for managing activities in the field, organizing community meetings and workshops, leading community meetings and workshops, and working closely with village Councils and related project committees. She also facilitates the dissemination of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation messages.

The ongoing CCA project is enhancing the capacity of CSOs to raise awareness of, and promote initiatives that address climate change and its impact on sustainable development in Timor-Leste Project, which will be implemented for three years. Thalia said Timor-Leste is still highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. "With the risk of flooding, drought, coastal inundation, and disease set to increase under climate projections, there is an urgent need to improve the capacity of CSOs and local governments so that they are better prepare for disasters and climate variability across all sectors of development," she explained.

Thalia continued, this project helps promote CSO's activities and policies that are gender-sensitive and socially inclusive of preparing for and responding to climate change's impact and contributing to sustainable development in Timor-Leste. "This action has built a safe and resilient community where women or men are active participants in managing climate change risks," she said.

Previously, Thalia worked for Fundao Carbon Offset (F-COTI), a non-governmental organization. She works as a technical advisor for the project Integrating Reforestation, Biodiversity Conservation, and Carbon Markets for Improved Landscape Management in Identified Upland and Coastal Areas. This project is funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). In this project, Thalia is involved in project management, monitoring and evaluation, writing report, consultation with the community, and writing concerns from the community.

Interested in Environmental Issues Since High School

Since high school, Thalia has been interested and has a strong passion for climate change issues and environmental protection. She said, “My friend and I did a school-based project of cleaning the environment from the community area. We are actively involved in the project to raise awareness to the community of one of the environmental issues that exist in Timor.” She also served for the Dili Model United Nations (DMUN) at the Ministry of Social and Solidarity, where she represented Germany with the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) committee.

She said, “I liked the simulation of the UN debate on the climate change issues from each representative country where we showed or improved our negotiation and leadership skills. That was when it boosted my passion for fighting climate change, especially in Timor-Leste. I also decided to study Environmental Engineering at President University.”

During college, Thalia was a member of the Public Relations of the President University Major Association (PUMA) Environmental Engineering in 2019-2020. Every year, PUMA Environmental Engineering holds an Eco Brilliant Idea competition that invites local high school students to submit their ideas or projects on climate change mitigation. The participant who has the best idea or project gets an award.

Thalia said that climate change is one of the global issues we are currently facing. She advised, “Everyone on earth should be concerned with this issue because this is a significant threat to our lives, environment and economy. If we do not take care of nature, then who will? This is the only planet we have. We all have to pay attention to environmental issues and must take action to reduce the impact of climate change.” (Gilang Suryanata, PR team. Photo: Thalia)