My journey to Antarctica: Part One

05 Dec 2017
Sandra Leticia Guzmán Luna Chevening Alumna

Sandra Leticia Guzmán Luna first came to the UK on a Chevening Scholarship, where she did her master's degree in environmental policy and regulation at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She is now doing her PhD in politics and is preparing to undertake one of her biggest adventures yet—a journey to Antarctica.

Here is her story.

My name is Sandra Leticia Guzmán Luna. I am a PhD student in politics at the University of York in the United Kingdom. I first came to the UK to do a master's degree in environmental policy and regulation at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), thanks to the Chevening Award. 

During my master's degree, I met an amazing group of people from all over the world, including Latin America. I learnt more about what was happening in these countries and realised that we were facing the same challenges. Based on this experience, I decided to create an NGO to work on climate finance matters in the region: the Climate Finance Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (Grupo de Financiamiento Climático para Latinoamérica y el Caribe, GFLAC).

In 2012, GFLAC was born as an idea. Today it is a network of 220 members spanning 17 countries. We provide expertise on climate finance matters with work in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, and most recently Costa Rica and El Salvador.

In this sense, Chevening not only gave me the opportunity to strengthen my knowledge and my capabilities, but also to develop a career in my favourite field.

Thanks to my academic and professional experience, something amazing happened to me this year. I was chosen for the Homeward Bound Project (HBP), an initiative to empower women in the field of science to further their environmental work. This one-year programme concludes with a trip to Antarctica, an expedition led by women, for women!

Women are underrepresented in science sector jobs, despite making up a large portion of science graduates. This is why HBP, an initiative born in Australia in 2016, helps women from science backgrounds to develop their leadership and strategic capabilities, using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices. Under the motto ‘Mother Earth needs her daughters’, HBP aims to strengthen the positions of hundreds of women in the field of science to join global efforts promoting measures to deal with climate change issues.

In February 2018, the second HBP expedition will depart from the port of Ushuaia, Argentina. Eighty female scientists (including myself) from 14 countries around the world are about to start the expedition that will consolidate their work, strengthen their leadership, and contribute to global research on climate change. As women, this project allows us to fight against the constraints put on us due to our gender.

In this expedition, there is a group of five Latin American representatives from Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico. As a highly vulnerable region and contributor of 9% of the greenhouse gas emissions of the world, the participation of this region in the project is very important.   

For me, it is an honor to be the first Mexican participating in this project. This experience will provide me with an opportunity to connect with my ideals and stand for my beliefs.

We are all part of this planet, our home, and must fight to preserve it.

What am I fighting for?

  • The next generation – As a mother, my biggest motivation is my two-year-old son who reminds me every day of how important is to have a habitable and sustainable planet for future generations. I promise to do everything in my power to leave a better planet for my son and for future generations.
  • Gender equality – I wish to participate in the fight for gender equality in professional practice and support my country to overcome gender discrimination. I commit to strengthening women’s leadership in the field of climate science and protection of the environment. I will do so, through the campaign, Defensoras, which I launched in order to promote information among leading women and protective warriors of Mother Earth.
  • Collaborative action – I wish to raise awareness about climate change and improve climate policies by using this practical experience to connect climate change research to action. As GFLAC's coordinator, I will reinforce the network's actions to improve operation in matters of climate finance.
  • Research – As a postgraduate student, I am committed to fortifying the research related to climate change.

To keep up to date with my process before I leave, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Or watch my story:

Make sure to check back—I will update you here when I'm in Antarctica!