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Here are 10 climate activists to watch in 2023

December 22, 2022
topics: Climate action
by: Gerardo Bandera
located in: Kenya, Uganda, India, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Sweden, Greece, Mexico, Brazil
tags: climate activism, climate crisis, environment, indigenous knowledge

Over the past decade, the climate crisis has risen to a prominent place in the mainstream conversation and is now of top concern to most people - especially younger generations. While this has come with some progress towards reducing humanity's devastating impact on the planet, it has also generated a lot of eco-anxiety. 

Climate related news does not always help as it feeds off of sensationalism and fear. But the overwhelming anxiety that this induces leads people towards apathy, then resignation, then inaction. This is counterproductive to the goal of raising awareness towards the duty we have to change our ways and live more sustainably

Instead of focusing on the fear-mongering headlines, we can choose to shift our attention to the impactful work of climate activists around the world, who are courageously leading the way towards a greener future. They can inspire us to follow their lead and participate in any way, big or small, that each of us can.

We have rounded up a list of climate activists and organisations that can motivate us to participate in our local communities, whether it's through political activism, garbage clean-ups, sustainable ingenuity, or uplifting marginalised voices and knowledge.

Each of these organisations offers ways to get involved, whether through volunteering opportunities, collaborations or sponsorship.

Political activism

Vanessa Nakate, Uganda

Vanessa Nakate began as a climate activist in 2018 when she began striking at the Uganda-chapter of the Fridays for Future protests. As the founder of the Rise Up initiative, Nakate seeks to provide a platform for other African climate activists to make their voices heard on the international arena.

She was appointed 2022 UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for her advocacy. 

Greta Thunberg, Sweden

As one of the most impactful environmental activists, 19-year-old Greta Thunberg has continued to lead the Fridays for Future movement, which organises protests against the lack of climate action by governments and industries.

The movement has drawn 14 million people to the climate strikes, and Greta has inspired a generation of young activists to follow in her footsteps to speak up for the planet. 

Roland Dedi, Ivory Coast

Roland Dedi is the founder and director of the Réseau des Jeunes pour le Développement Communautaire (Youth Network for Community Development), an organisation that seeks to engage young people in Ivory Coast in environmental activism and engagement. With this organisation, Dedi has organised youth protests to defend the Banco Forest, protested against fossil fuel investment at the African Development Bank and created programs to educate students on how to care for the environment. 

Indigenous Voices

Futuros Indigenas, Mexico

Founded by 23 year old Mitzy Cortés, Red Futuros Indígenas (Indigenous Futures Network) is an organisation that seeks to spread Indigenous knowledge and narratives, defend native lands, waters and resources, and share indigenous recipes, language and practices.

The network, which connects individuals from several indigenous communities in Mexico, seeks to mobilise the youth, engaging them to act for the defence of life on Earth, while spreading awareness of those who are responsible for the devastation of the climate crisis. Cortés was one of the winners of the 2022 Global Citizen prize.

Txai Suruí

Txai Suruí is a 25-year-old activist from the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. She presented one of the opening speeches at the COP26 conference in Glasgow last year, voicing the concerns of indigenous peoples on the destruction of the planet, including the massive deforestation occurring in the Amazon.

Suruí has founded the Movement of Indigenous Youth of Rondônia to further advocate for the region’s pressing issues, and to save the rainforest from further destruction.

Sustainable Development

Gjenge Makers, Nairobi  

This organisation, led by Nzambi Matee - who was named a UNEP Young Champion of the Earth - ingeniously creates eco-friendly pavers (pavement bricks) out of recycled materials. The result is a colourful and sturdy material, more resistant than concrete, that is also good for the environment and provides economic opportunities to over 100 people, including women, youth and informal garbage collectors. 

Navdanya International

Navdanya does important work in ensuring Seed and Food Sovereignty, especially through its Seed Freedom campaign, which defends the free trade of seeds against patents by large-scale producers.

The organisation also teaches farmers methods of agroecology and organic farming, offering them ways to make their agricultural practices more sustainable. They offer volunteering opportunities and internships to get involved.

Reforestation

Elizabeth Wathuti, Kenya

Elizabeth Wathuti came to the limelight at COP26 in Glasgow when she shared her stories of how Kenyans are experiencing climate change in front of politicians and representatives, urging everyone to “open your hearts.” Her message is one of spreading empathy and hope to face this global challenge, focusing on action on the ground.

“The African continent is not only the most impacted by the climate crisis, but it's also the continent where you find most of these solutions happening on the ground and being led by youths, by women groups, that are still impacted by the crisis,” she explained to the UN.

Wathuti is the founder of the Green Generation Initiative - an organisation that helps local communities in Kenya implement nature-based solutions to confront the climate crisis. Their mission is to “nurture an environmentally conscious generation” by organising tree growing expeditions and eco-schooling programmes to teach kids environmental consciousness.

Garbage cleanups

There Is No Earth B, India

Between 2001 and 2021, India has seen a decline in forest cover of 2.8 percent due to logging, industrialisation and urbanisation. There Is No Earth B is seeking to reverse the environmental impact of this deforestation by protecting the Sanjay Van of Delhi, organising clean-ups and plantation drives.

So far, this organisation has removed 20,000 kg of non-biodegradable waste. 

Lefteris Arapakis, Greece  

Overfishing and plastic pollution has endangered many species of fish in the Mediterranean sea, not only damaging aquatic ecosystems, but also leaving fishermen in Greece with receding sources of income.

To combat this, Lefteris Arapakis created the fishing school Enaleia to teach fishermen how to catch fish sustainably and also collect discarded plastic that is polluting the sea. The fishermen collect over 20 tonnes of plastic from the sea every month, making these seas hospitable to the fish on which their incomes depend.

Arapakis was commemorated as one of the UNEP’s 2020 Young Champions of the Earth.

Image by Markus Spiske.



Article written by:
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Gerardo Bandera
Assistant Editor, Author
Kenya Uganda India Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) Sweden Greece Mexico Brazil
Elizabeth Wathuti came to the limelight at COP26 in Glasgow when she shared her stories of how Kenyans are experiencing climate change in front of politicians.
Greta Thunberg has mobilized millions of people to march in the Fridays for Future movement.
Txai Suruí is a 25 year old activist from the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. She gave one of the opening speeches at the COP26 conference in Glasgow in 2021.
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