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INTERVIEW WITH YOUTH LEADER JANA NORINA FINKE FROM FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE IN ISERLOHN

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

March 3, 2021

The Fridays for Future movement has succeeded in making climate change a focus for German society. Climate protection has thus been put on the political agenda of almost all parties in Germany. CSM's Ulrike Badziura speaks to FFF activist Jana Norina Finke.


Ulrike Badziura: Jana, you are 16 years old and the head of the Fridays for Future movement here in Iserlohn. Why are you committed to climate protection?

Jana Norina Finke: It started when I was nine. I took part in the first Kids Climate Conference in Medebach (https://www.kidsclimateconference.de/de). After that, I was quite interested in the topic of climate protection. When the first demonstrations took place in 2019, it was of course very exciting for me and I took part right away. In the end, I even became one of the organizers here.


UB: Do you remember your first Fridays for Future protest?

JNF: Absolutely! It was March 18, 2019. I attended spontaneously. It was very impressive for me. There were so many people there, I think there were 600 people. I was surprised by how many people in Iserlohn were willing to demonstrate for more climate protection.


UB: Do you sense that your activities are creating change?

JNF: Difficult to say, but a lot is starting to move. Also in the City of Iserlohn. When we issued our calls hundreds of people came to the protests each time. I have the feeling that I have piqued people's interest.


UB: Did you run into problems with your school when you announced that you would go on strike for climate protection?

JNF: There were no major problems but I did receive an entry on my transcript for unexcused absences. At the same time, the school added a note indicating that the absences were the result of my engaging in political work.


UB: What role does Greta Thunberg, the Swedish founder of the Fridays for Future movement, play for you?

JNF: For me, Greta is the person who got the ball rolling. Nothing more to that. She got the movement started. That is clearly remarkable but luckily there are now lots of people who are active. That's why I don’t see Greta as a messiah but as the individual who got everything started.


UB: Due to the Corona pandemic, activities in the form of demonstrations are no longer possible. What alternatives have you found to continue pushing for more climate protection?

JNF: That's pretty difficult. We used April 24 of last year (two days after Earth Day) to do a virtual climate strike and called on people to take photographs of the banners and signs that had been prepared for the demonstration. We then uploaded them to Instagram and Facebook. In fact, we are currently having problems drawing enough attention to the topic of climate protection.


UB: Have you been active somewhere beyond Fridays for Future since the pandemic began?

JNF: I am involved in a community group called Citizens Help Citizens. We collect food donations from supermarkets—for example, fruit and vegetables that can no longer be sold—and give them to people in need. It's a very good thing to do. My mother initiated it and my dad has been involved from the start also. The idea came up when the food shelves that normally do this work suddenly closed last year because of the pandemic. Now they're open again but we continue anyway.


UB: What has been your most remarkable experience in your Fridays for Future activity?

JNF: That we were invited to the European Parliament in Brussels. It was truly impressive to see how the politicians work there and how interested they are in our movement.


UB: If you could look into that crystal ball, where do you see yourself in 30 years?

JNF: That's a very difficult question because I don't really have any plans. But I believe I’ll be somewhere in politics or research. I want to work on something that helps tackle the climate crisis.


UB: Is there anything you would like to tell our CSM group?

JNF: Fridays for Future is a movement of people, not a virtual movement. It continues to be important that we think globally and act locally. I believe that no matter where we are, we must fight climate change. Everyone can do something.