UN student speaker wants to make a difference

By Farah Bassyouni Mar 25, 2022
Ballesteros-Gonzalez speaks to a UN panel
Ballesteros-Gonzalez speaks to a UN panel

First-year economics student Victoria Ballesteros-Gonzalez presented to the UN panel on the inequities of water economics in honor of International Day of Women and Girls in Science. On February 11, Ballesteros-Gonzalez spoke on her plans to follow through on her plans to speak out about global disparities in water economics. 


“I felt so honored and grateful, but at the same time kind of pressured,” Ballesteros-Gonzalez said. “I recognize that it is a great responsibility to try to represent and get the message across as much as possible.”


The event, called “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Water Unites Us,” was hosted at the United Nations Headquarters. There were more than 60 speakers and eight high level sessions. Ballesteros-Gonzalez spoke at a high-level panel called “Investing in Water or Sustainable Development: Reshaping Water Economics for Inclusive Green Growth.” 


In this panel, she was part of a discussion involving how water contributes to sustainable development, economic prosperity, social justice and environmental integrity.


Ballesteros-Gonzalez’s motivation to speak at this panel stemmed from frustration of the excuses people make that it would be too costly or that people would lose jobs if  “turning green.” She said that this was a false assumption. 


With a keen eye of how the climate change problem would exacerbate overtime, Ballesteros-Gonzalez realized that something had to be done. 


“I remember the comment of a friend who told me she could not see the stars because of the pollution in her city,” Ballesteros-Gonzalez said. “I was in shock.” 


Ballesteros-Gonzalez took part in a live conversation with the President of the UN General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, during the closing ceremony. She addressed how economic and language barriers are related to global water inefficiencies. 


“The water crisis is real and the fear of the water war continues to be a reality.” Ballesteros-Gonzalez said. “Product of inaction based on excuses like economic cost or implication that are false; there are affordable techniques, such as collecting rainwater, that can be applied if governments, companies, and individuals choose so, and inequality and discrimination that is turning against us.” 


Ballesteros-Gonzalez said the commitment to the most advanced technologies and projects cannot be an impediment and should not stop us from acting on the water crisis right now. She emphasized that everyone should take part in the conversation. 


Ballesteros-Gonzalez is especially passionate about environmental economics, particularly the economic growth that could be related to a sustainable society. This is why she is pursuing her major in economics and minor in environmental studies. And, as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, she shows empowerment and is using it to lead the change. 


The opportunity for Ballesteros-Gonzalez to speak was as a result of her work as the coordinator of the Spanish section of the Girls in Science 4 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) international platform. There, she works to achieve equity and empower girls. 


In the future, Ballesteros-Gonzalez wants to become a sustainable economic consultant of governments and companies. She also has interest in working as an entrepreneur where she would provide tools that will allow others to better the world. 


On campus, she looks forward to seeing the work of Student Senate on it, as a co-commissioner of sustainability she hopes to make an impact working with Mishwa Bhavsar, the commissioner, the rest of the executive board, and the senators. 


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