Petya Koleva has already lived a few lives. As a researcher and an active participant in post-conflict justice, she has travelled to places that you would “normally” only hear in high-level trivia questions. Thankfully, the world (and Plan A) have people like her who are intelligent, courageous and driven to provide the rest of the world with reliable information, smart action and hope. Petya is the research and development brain of the Plan A outfit. She also has a slight issue with Roobar snacks, with which she uses extensively with coffee to power her every day.
What is climate change to you? How does it affect you? How to stop it?
Climate change is our best, and arguably our last opportunity to reform a social and economic system, which has compromised the health of our planet and the well-being of billions of people around the world. It represents the necessity to redefine our relationship to nature and, by extension, to one another as human beings. The change we need must be led from the bottom up, where the reality of climate change is most acute. We must channel energy and resources to support vulnerable communities affected by the climate crisis. We must advance frontline proposals that challenge the status quo. For that, we will need strength in numbers. This is why I stand behind Plan A’s mission to power the collective fight for an equitable, just and resilient future for our planet and all its inhabitants.
Where do you get your environmental fibre from? How did it all begin?
I was born to a pair of natural scientists. They instilled in me a recognition that the environment is not simply the backdrop of our lives; it’s the be-all and end-all of all existence. My work on access to justice throughout the Middle East, East Africa and South-East Asia drove home the point that environmental justice is social justice and vice-versa. I’ve seen droughts lead to migration and instigate conflict; I’ve seen hunger compromise conservation. Once you see the causality, you can’t un-see it. And here we are.
What is your totem animal (can be a plant too)? Why?
An owl, probably. I like to keep a bird’s-eye view of things, but you’d also find me somewhere close to the action – trying to observe, understand and communicate it forward. I hear that’s what owls are like.