Ep. 03 — Amali Tower

Ep. 03
Amali Tower

Meet Amali Tower, founder and executive director of Climate Refugees, a non-profit organization highlighting the complexities of climate injustice and advocating for the protection of those displaced by climate change. 

Through storytelling and global monitoring, Tower highlights the injustices and disproportionate effects resulting from climate change. “My biggest why is driven by something that I believe in: that every single one of us can make a contribution. If everybody were to do that, if we can be intentional about thinking about it that way, it’s quite limitless how much we can change, including systemic change, which is what we need.”

In 2021, we worked with Tower to donate AIR Spray Hand Sanitizer to refugees and climate-displaced communities at the southern border of the United States, including the California/Tijuana border and the Texas/Mexico border in Reynosa. Now, we’re sitting down with her to discuss creating awareness and the need for collaboration in the space.

AC 

Please introduce yourself.

AT

My name is Amali Tower. I’m the founder and executive director of Climate Refugees. We are a think tank on the nexus of climate change and human mobility, specifically human displacement as a result of climate change.

AC

What is your biggest why?

AT

My biggest why is directed by everybody can make a contribution towards change. I never really set out [thinking that] I can change the world while working in human rights. But it’s about making a contribution towards change, even systemic exchange, which is what we need right now.”

AC

What is needed to create more awareness for climate refugees?

AT

Climate displacement today is one of the biggest reasons why people are displaced in the world. We need more storytelling. We need to build awareness through the storytelling of displaced people. The impacts of climate change on their lives and the human rights that are being eroded because of the effects of climate change. Climate change, by the way, that they’re actually not even responsible for. Much of the world today that is feeling the effects of this have had no contribution towards global warming.

AC

What do you find to be the most rewarding part of what you do?

AT

The most rewarding part about my job is the relationships that I get to build and foster, especially with impacted populations [and] displaced people who, unfortunately, are just not part of the conversation enough in the policy world, in the public space.

I think if people knew that we have more in common with migrants and displaced people far away in the world, it would go a long way in changing laws and policies and the hearts and minds of people. We need storytelling.

“Fund this work. Understand that there’s more than one way, one solution, and one innovation, and make space for the populations that are the most impacted...”

— Amali Tower

AC

Tell us about some of your most recent projects.

AT

There will be some climate displacement storytelling—TV projects—fall. At the end of this month, in September, I’ll be in Costa Rica doing some loss and damage work, which we’re really trying to advance at the UN climate talks in November in Egypt. Then I’ll be going onwards to Somalia and Kenya, interviewing displaced people there. There’s a major drought that’s impacting Somalia and the whole horn of Africa. A million people have now been displaced. It’s imperative that we speak to the displaced people who are the best agents of their own stories.

AC

How important is collaboration in the climate space?

AT

Collaboration in the climate space is everything because the conversation is too siloed. We have to work across sectors and industries. This whole idea of the public space and the private space—these synergies need to come together.

Fund this work. Understand that there’s more than one way and one solution and one innovation, and make space for the populations that are the most impacted to be some of the biggest change-makers in this conversation.

AC

Outside of your work, how do you connect with nature?

AT

Nature has become such an important part of my life as I get older and do more of this work. Living in New York City that’s obviously really hard, but the parks are great. Any opportunity to be outdoors, to get away, even if it’s just quick weekend trips, I try to travel.

AC

Can you describe your hope for the planet’s future in one word?

AT

My hope for the future is empathy. If we could see that we share the same hopes, dreams, even fears, I think we would find solutions that work for everybody.

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