Skip to content

Esmeralda Wirtz joins the PLUS Change project representing the mental health community and LGBTQIA+ community.

 Esmeralda (they/them) is a non-binary activist from Belgium focusing on human rights, social justice and the environment. They have a background in cultural anthropology and environmental sciences. They worked at the Parc naturel Hautes Fagnes – Eifel for almost 5 years and started the first community compost in their hometown. They also represented Belgian youth at the UNFCCC COP25 in Madrid in 2019, and joined several sessions of UN negotiations on biodiversity between 2019 and 2022. They are now based in Luxembourg and work with Amnesty International as the mobilisation officer.  

What community or organisation are you representing in the project?

I am representing the mental health community as well as the LGBTQIA+ community. While I don’t feel legitimate to represent these communities as a whole, because the individuals hold a plurality of opinions and perspectives, I have been reflecting extensively about the relationship between those groups and the environment.

  • The mental health community can greatly benefit from more biodiverse spaces. Mental health, community health and the health of our planet are closely interlinked, and the rootcauses that lead us to environmental destruction are the same as the ones that can lead to mental health issues.
  • The LGBTQIA+ is often seen as “unnatural” or “odd”, while when we have a closer look, nature is queer! Questioning our gender identity and/or our sexual orientation is one way of questioning the world… and we need to question the system to go towards a fairer and more sustainable world.

What motivated you to apply to become an ambassador?

Not many projects in Europe bridge the gap between social justice and environmentalism and I was very happy when I discovered PLUS Change. I want to be part of the change and we see too many of the same profiles being in positions of power in nature conservation and urban planning. We need to bring some diversity in, because a diversity of perspectives will bring the creative solutions that our world needs. 

How does your work correspond with PLUS Change?

 The links between social justice and sustainability have been at the forefront of my work for the past years. My identities as a queer, neurodivergent and mental health patient are intrinsically linked to the way I work on environmentalism, in an intersectional way, and that’s what I’m hoping to bring to and to get from PLUS Change. 

What are you looking forward to in the coming years?

I want to see a movement growing, a movement that is going to bring anti-capitalist, decolonial, queer-feminist views to the world and start the revolution that we need! I don’t want the richest people too keep getting richer at the expense of the poorer, I don’t want to see our planet destroyed, but I’m sure that communities can lead to the changes we need if we organise well enough!