On Sept. 23, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg gave a rousing speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit where she called upon world leaders to take urgent action against climate change. While Thunberg is a strong role model for people of all ages, she is just one of many teenagers or young adults who have dedicated their lives to fighting for climate change. Here are five more young women who are leading the charge for environmental advocacy.
Nakabuye Hilda Flavia
Flavia is a 22-year old climate activist from Uganda. A student at Kampala International University, Flavia has helped organize weekly “Fridays for Future” climate strikes. She also leads weekly lakeshore clean-ups, in an effort to help preserve the already scarce water resources in Uganda. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, Flavia led her first climate strike by herself in 2018, standing in front of her university for six hours. Soon, people started to join her, and together the group began to travel, visiting nearby universities and schools to talk about climate change and what actions can be taken to help prevent it. Recently, Flavia and a group of other young-adult activists met with Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, where Kadaga pledged to support reforestation in Uganda as well as a new law outlawing the use of plastic bags in Uganda.
You can follow Flavia on Twitter @NakabuyeHildaF
Pandey, a young-adult from India, was one of the child petitioners at the United Nations Climate Action Summit earlier this week. At the age of 9, Pandey sued the Indian government over their failure to address climate change and take action. She has challenged the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a carbon budget strategy, terms that many 9-year-olds would struggle to even define. Pandey has stated that she became interested in the environment and climate change after witnessing the Uttarakhand floods in 2013, where more than 5,000 people died.
The 16-year-old daughter of Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Hirsi is known as a leading voice for teen activists in the United States. While her mother was assuming her position as Congresswoman in January, Hirsi was helping to launch the U.S. Youth Climate Strike. Hirsi has stated that she learned from her high school environmental club that climate change disproportionately affects people of color. She and some of her peers have also been going around to science classes in their school and talking about climate change with other students, hoping to help them understand how climate change affects everyone. Hirsi was also one of the motivating forces behind the climate forum hosted by CNN last week.
You can follow Hirsi on Twitter @israhirsi
Fruean is a 21-year-old activist from New Zealand and an environmental advocate for Samoa. When she was 11, Fruean helped found 305.Samoa, a branch of 350.Pacific, a youth-led grassroots network working to fight climate change in the Pacific Islands. She is also a leader of the environmental group “Future Rush” and travels to schools to teach children and teens about climate change. In recognition of her efforts to conserve the Pacific environment, Fruean was chosen by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme as their first youth ambassador.
You can follow her on Twitter @Brianna_Fruean
In 2013, when Ubaldo was 16, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, killing over 6,000 people, including some of Ubaldo’s family and friends and destroying her home. Following this tragic event, she decided to join the fight for climate justice. Now 22-years-old, Ubaldo has traveled to a number of countries, speaking to thousands of people about climate change. She took part in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference as part of the youth delegation and spoke in New York City at a hearing held by the Philippines Commission on Human Rights to investigate corporate responsibility in climate change. Ubaldo wants to speak on the behalf of marginalized groups who would otherwise go unheard.
You can follow her on Twitter @YnelUbaldo
A few USC students shared their thoughts about the erasure of POC climate activists. Natalie Kojababian, a junior studying business administration, said, “I do think it is important to speak about POC activists because it will keep us, as citizens of the world, updated and [up] to par in regards to social [and] societal equity concerns.”
Xena Amirani, a senior studying philosophy, politics, and law, said, “It’s important to talk about POC activists, but more importantly, activists within nations viewed as “third-world” or non-western nations that have lower socioeconomic success and more authoritarian governments as a result of colonialism. These activists are often censored and silenced by their own countries and governments, and ignoring them in the United States where speech and press are free makes this activism struggle even more difficult.”
Climate change remains an important topic among politicians in the United States. Each Democratic candidate running in the 2020 Presidential election has a plan to combat its effects, which many of them shared at last week’s climate forum. And with another climate strike planned for tomorrow, youth activists have shown that they refuse to give up until change happens.