Laura Palmese

One Young World Profile profiles

Laura Palmese-Hernandez

UNITEC Honduras

I am passionate about

I am a public interest lawyer concerned with the plastic legacy we are leaving for the future generations. As a teenager and member of a Rotary International program for the youth (Rotaract) I learned of the problem of marine debris during a cleanup in one of the most paradisiac islands and popular dive sites of my country, Utila. I then organized several projects to cleanup other beaches, recycle e-waste and raise public awareness on the issue of waste. This lead me to focus on enviromental law, because as a Law student, I was always interested in human rights, and I began to understand how it was all connected. I prepared several papers and jointly with my experience in environmental projects, it lead me to start to volunteer at a legal/environmental NGO which then hired me, and allowed me to be selected by the Mesoamerican Reef Leadership program for an intensive training in leadership and solid waste management in islands. I then pursued a master's degree as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Oregon, where I made connections with the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide for which I now work now, as a consultant in environmental law and particularly in wastewaster and solid waste management in the Bay Islands of Honduras. I have received several trainings in leadership, and have influenced my peers to join my cause to reduce waste, promote recycling and support the informal recyclers.


When I was in Oregon, I learned of the Public Trust Doctrine and participated of the public hearings of Our Children's Trust. I was impacted of the public awareness of climate change and the understanding of the fact that the Government is accountable for taking action. I was also invited to talk to school kids about how climate change affected my country, even though our economy was so small and most people don't understand at all what climate change is about. My first understanding of climate justice was about the injustice of dealing with the impacts of climate change without proper tools, infrastructure, enough resources and mostly without contributing as much as other developed nations that produce/consume more and generate more greenhouse gases. Climate justice would mean then to me that the most contributors to climate change pay for the consequences, but aknowledging that money won't solve the future consequences and cannot pay for all the loss, it would never be justice.

Then, environmental leader Berta Caceres was murdered because of opposing to a so-called climate-friendly project (a hydroelectric dam), when in the United States this type of projects were actually being removed from the rivers to allow them to flow. Several laws have been enacted in my country to ""address climate change"", like promote fast-track for green energy projects such as dams and waste-to-energy and even a climate change law that promotes generation of biodiesel from african palm plantations instead of preserving natural forests. I understood that we also were dealing with the consequences of bad experimental ""solutions,"" where foreign and local companies are only in for making money and not helping the planet. I now think climate justice is about regulating corporate power and regaining it for the people.

Since then, I have brought to the table issues that were invisible to most people and get them jump in the bandwagon to contribute to the solution together.