Climate change affects us all, no matter where we live. And around the world, different activists are born to combat climate change and the way it impacts on their homes. Here’s a list of 10 young activists who are not letting their ages stop them from protecting their homes and the natural world they love. Their passion and desire for a better future is amazing to watch.
Txai, 25, is the founder and coordinator of the Movement of Indigenous Youth of Rondônia. This Brazillian activist fighting deforestation, previously studying law, now works with the Kanindé legal team to preserve the rights and land of Indigenous tribes. Her work centres around climate justice, as the crisis is affecting their territories and lives. She is one of six young climate activists suing the Brazilian government for changing its 2005 carbon baseline to fulfil the Paris Climate Agreement’s carbon reduction objectives.
Suruí addressed world leaders on the first day of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26). She described the devastation occurring in the Amazon and emphasised the significance of putting Indigenous peoples at the centre of governance. She went on to say that their timeframes for decreasing carbon emissions and limiting the use of fossil fuels were woefully deficient. Her statement addressed the catastrophic loss of biodiversity as well as the numerous Indigenous activists slain for defending their ancestral lands. Because of her work, Suru has received death threats. While attempting to defend the forest, one of her childhood pals was slain. Despite this, Suru expressed her hope for a new world in which people collaborate with nature.
"You are closing your eyes to reality"
Nyombi Morris is a Ugandan deforestation and climate activist fighting the deforestation of Bugoma Forest. His family's farm was destroyed by changing weather patterns, so he planted trees in his community and joined Rise Up Movement Africa. At least 47,500 trees have been planted across the country by the activist since 2019. After flooding disrupted the source of livelihood for his parents, he began his activism. Since then, Nyombi has called on world leaders and polluters to take climate change more seriously and implement policies to discourage polluters.
Many news outlets have covered his story, including the BBC, CBC, CNN, The Verge, Global Citizens, Reuters, and Earth.org. The United Kingdom-based charity Population Matters recognised him and was awarded the 2022 Earth Champion award. He’s a CEO of a non-profit organization known as Earth Volunteers and UNOCHA Ambassador.
“Every disaster movie starts with someone ignoring a scientist”
As a 17-year-old BIPOC woman, she is an Anishinaabe activist from Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada, and comes from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. Autumn Peltier is a world-renowned water-rights advocate and a leading global youth environmental activist. Peltier was appointed Chief Water Commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation in April 2019 and has spoken at the United Nations about contaminated water on Indigenous reserves. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Peltier was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize for her activism. Peltier, then thirteen, addressed world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on the topic of water protection in 2018. Autumn was also invited to be a keynote speaker at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, that year. The Canadian Assembly of First Nations recognised her as a water protector.
Her journey of becoming a water activist began when an 8-year-old Peltier took part in a water ritual in Serpent River, which is located between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, Ontario. The restroom visit she made while at the facility will be remembered. There was a label on the water that stated it was not fit for consumption, and she was puzzled. She asked her mother what the label meant, and couldn't believe it was happening in a country like Canada. She was upset at learning that people in her community had to hand boil their water to filter it and ensure it was safe for drinking. As a result of that pivotal visit seven years ago, Peltier began fighting for clean water throughout Canada, particularly in Indigenous communities battling poisoned streams. She has starred in ‘The Water Walker,’ (2019) a documentary following the Anishinaabe water activist’s journey from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory to New York City to attempt the perseveration of the future of indigenous communities.
“Mother Earth doesn’t need us but we need her”
When he was 10 years old, Nkosirathi Nyathi (from Zimbabwe) started his climate advocacy when he joined his school's environmental club. He has worked with the United Nations Children's Fund and the advocacy group GreenLine Africa, advocating for climate action and providing a voice for young people in Zimbabwe and throughout Africa. As a result of his homeland's continual environmental deterioration, his enthusiasm for climate change concerns has led him to participate in significant climate change projects throughout the world over the years. He spoke at a session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Victoria Falls in 2018. In 2019, he travelled to Spain for the COP25 Climate Summit, where he joined children and youth from around the world in urging global leaders to solve climate and biodiversity concerns as quickly as possible. In the presence of international authorities such as UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, he spoke passionately during the sixth session of the African Regional Summit on Sustainable Development in Victoria Falls in February 2020. In November 2020, he was appointed a UNICEF Youth Advocate.
Nyathi's activities, according to Rosewita Katsande, managing director of the NGO Young Empowerment and Transformation Trust, helped put a light on other youth activists.
“We can fight, we can heal our planet with accountable, responsible solutions, but only if we include young people who have the most at stake”
When it comes to advocating for climate change issues in Samoa and the wider Pacific, Brianna Fruean’s, Samoan woman, youth has never deterred her. She has been able to take advantage of her youth when addressing an issue that looms large in the lives of her peers. She has also become a leading voice for Pacific youth on climate change, presenting at international summits for the region's young people. At just the age of 11, she became a founding member of 350 Samoa and leader of the environmental group Future Rush. Brianna Fruean, now 24, is working to grow and enhance the voice of young people in the Pacific on major environmental and climate change problems, such as visiting schools and teaching children and youth about climate change and enabling them to be agents of social change. When she talks at environmental conferences, she discusses young views and expresses her worries about the effects of climate change, as well as the necessity for low-carbon development while balancing what Samoa requires to flourish as a country.
She has promoted sustainable development through awareness programs around schools and communities in Samoa and the region. As part of Moving Planet Samoa, she organised yet another environmental awareness event in 2011. In Samoa and around the world, more than 100 people participated in a walk to raise awareness about climate change. She was awarded the 2022 Global Citizen Prize: Citizen Award Samoa. She is a youth representative of the Council of Elders at the youth-led grassroots organisation Pacific Climate Warriors and a founding member of the children’s eco-group Small Voices.
“You don’t need my pain or my tears to know that we are in a crisis”
10 years old and already fighting against the pollution plaguing her home (India), Licypriya Kangujam is an indigenous climate activist from Manipur in North East India and one of the world's youngest climate campaigners. She has urged world leaders to take rapid climate action at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2019 (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. Since 2018, Licypriya has been advocating for climate action in India, including the passage of new laws to reduce India's high pollution levels and the implementation of climate change education in schools. In 2019, at the age of nine, she spoke at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP25), and she has spoken at climate and international conferences around the world.
Her support of clean air efforts and demonstrations against the Indian government has been recognised. One of her long-standing demands for Indian leaders has been advocating for new air pollution law in India. She played a crucial role in bringing about this new law to curb Delhi's air pollution crisis. Three days after protesting in front of the President's House at midnight on October 15, 2020, she was detained by Delhi police. The President of India signed and approved an ordinance on October 28, 2020, to enact this new air pollution regulation in five Indian states. The Prime Minister of India has directed the formation of a new air pollution commission with its headquarters in Delhi to permanently resolve the Delhi air pollution situation. Polluters can be fined US$134,000 or imprisoned for up to five years under the new rule.
“Why should I come here? Why should I speak here? I have to go back to my school. I have to read my books. I have to play. I have to study but our leaders are ruining our lives and beautiful future"
21-year-old activist, Melati Wijsen, has been leading the youth-led campaign for Bye Bye Plastic Bags with her sister Isabel since she was 12 years old when her fight against plastic pollution began. On her island Bali, they achieved a ban on the sale and distribution of plastic bags, packaging, and straws. She started a social enterprise called the Mountain Mamas and founded One Island One Voice. Melati was named one of the most inspiring women in the country was named by FORBES and has spoken on global venues like the United Nations and TED spreading awareness. She was named to TIME's annual list of the world's most important teenagers, with CNN Heroes Young Wonders and FORBES 30 Under 30. Melati co-chaired the World Economic Forum's GPAP committee, served on the Earthshot Prize's inaugural Expert Advisory Panel, and had her film, Bigger Than Us, debut at the 74th Cannes Film Festival 2021. She was also named one of the top ten most inspiring women in the country and one of Forbes' 30 under 30 Asia.
Melati believes in her generation's strength as seen in her latest project, YOUTHTOPIA. This project aims to empower youths with relevant peer-to-peer material and equips them with the tools they need to be changemakers on the frontline, in a society that doesn’t view youths as capable of making a change. Melati is helping to equip these youths with the support needed to make a change in the issues they are passionate about.
“Have we integrated that we are disposable?”
Dominique is a 22-year-old British Youth Climate Justice Activist, storyteller, writer, model, and undergraduate student from the United Kingdom who believes in mobilising people for climate action and bringing the arts together for the planet to generate a cultural shift. She spoke at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, and her advocacy began as a major role and one of the United Kingdom's most visible student activists in the School Strike for Climate Movement. She utilises her platform to offer information on how to take action and tackle gender and race issues in the context of climate catastrophe. She is an organiser of a youth-led climate strike organisation that started in 2018, Future International Fridays and as the coordinator for Climate Live, a worldwide youth-led concert series aimed at engaging, educating, and empowering young people to take action on climate change and currently working with Youthtopia. She focuses on organising climate strikes and activities, mobilisation, and worldwide campaigns.
Dominique has walked the Kornit fashion week runway with Anyango Mpinga and posed for Pangaia and Kurt Geiger environmental campaigns. Palmer's advocacy focuses on intersectionality and marginalised populations, and she has emerged as a notable U.K. young campaigner in this regard. She has utilised this in her legislative drive, pressuring MPs to support Lord Bird's Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. She believes in using novel methods to mobilise people, such as bringing people together via music, as seen by her work with Climate Live, where she oversaw the April 24th event in which Declan Mckenna performed in front of the Houses of Parliament to raise awareness about the climate problem. She has been included on Forbes 2020 Leading 100 UK Environmentalists List, Refinery29, the Guardian, BBC, VICE, Bustle, PopSugar, and the New York Times.
“So was that talk of a ‘green revolution’ simply for show? To play the political game without taking any concrete action?”
Isaias Hernández was born in Los Angeles, California (Tongva land to the Indigenous peoples of Southern California) and grew up in an area plagued by environmental injustices. He is a queer eco-creator and activist interested in the multiple intersections of gender and sustainability. Hernández developed an interest in learning about the environment around them as a result of growing up in a community that suffered environmental injustices. He grew up in Section 8 cheap housing, on food stamps, and saw pollution damage everyone's body differently. He channelled his rage and despair into a career as an environmental educator.
Environmental justice is the focus of Hernandez's work. Hernández co-founded Alluvia Magazine, an environmental magazine that showcases BIPOC environmentalists via climate justice narrative, after graduation. He created an educational platform to help other people learn about ecology since he didn't want to see other low-income kids struggle to comprehend the topics that they never had the chance to learn about. QueerBrownVegan is his activist platform, where three topics are concentrated on every day ranging from environmental justice to zero-waste, with an educational perspective that is rarely seen on Instagram.
“Our anxious responses sometimes lead us to confusion but it also leads us to point out that our collective grieving is much powerful when we become agents of change”
Lina Nayel Al-Tarawneh, a 21-year-old Muslim woman, is a Jordanian and Qatari climate activist and advocate for sustainable consumption. On a camping trip with his family, Al-Tarawneh fell in love with the natural wonder at first sight. Al-Tarawneh wants to change that as well as improve their situation. She discovered the area to be littered during her visit. She then had the notion to start Green Mangroves, a non-profit organisation that would organise visits to the region with an eco-twist. Green Mangroves is an educational initiative to conserve Qatar's mangroves and teach people about plastic-free living. Volunteer guides will conduct kayaking tours into the mangroves, according to her idea. Visitors would be educated about the plant and animal life present there, and their visit would conclude with a cleanup of the area. Al-Tarawneh stated that her organisation intends to inspire a new generation of young people to care for the mangroves.
Her idea received a $15,000 grant from Ford Motor Company, allowing her to purchase kayaks for Green Mangroves outings, where visitors may experience Qatar's mangrove forests up close and be encouraged to conserve them. Al-Tarawneh also teaches people how to live without plastic, is a medical student in Qatar, and is working on a sustainable clothing initiative. In October 2016, she won the Harvard Social Innovation Collaborative Global Trailblazer competition. In 2017, she and her sister Dina co-founded the NGO Green Mangroves. In 2017, Ford Motor Company gave her a $15,000 scholarship. She purchased kayaks, which will be used by the organisation to organise litter-clearing kayak expeditions. Her Millennium Fellowship Project: The Sustainable Wardrobe (formerly: The Slow Wardrobe) on sustainable clothing gained her the job of University of Qatar campus director. She makes her garments out of linen textiles that are made from flax and are biodegradable. At the Youth4Climate Pre-COP26 Conference in Milan, the prelude to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Al-Tarawneh was recognised as Doha's #SolvingIt26 Debates.
“Once people connect with these places [the natural world], it’s so easy for them to fall in love with them... and people protect what they love”