When people hear the phrase "Youth Climate Activist", many will immediately think of Greta Thunberg. And while she's done some amazing activism, it’s important to remember that she isn’t alone! With environmental racism continuing to impact communities of colour, leadership is increasingly coming from young people in these communities advocating for the systemic change we desperately need.
Here are some more young climate activists who are taking action against climate change and working to better their communities.
Autumn Peltier is a water-rights advocate and a leading global youth environmental activist who advocates for clean drinking water in First Nations communities & around the world. In 2019 she was appointed Chief Water Commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation. She’s been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and is one of this year’s nominees for the Children’s Climate Prize.
Mari Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint”, is most known for her advocacy for the city of Flint, Michigan. Since her letter to President Obama in 2007 and his subsequent visit to Flint, she’s raised over $500,000 for her Flint Kids project, and has partnered with Hydroviv to provide free water filters to those dealing with toxic drinking water. She also sits on the Flint Youth Justice League and the MDE Anti-Racism Student Advisory Council.
Isra Hirsi co-founded and serves as the co-executive director of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, and advocates for intersectionality and diversity within the climate justice movement, as well as in her day-to-day life. You can read more about why the Climate Movement needs more people like her in her own words here.
Helena Sirén Gualinga is an Indigenous environmental and human rights activist from the Kichwa Sarayaku community in Pastaza, Ecuador. Gualinga actively speaks on the ways that climate change has impacted her community, and, in 2019 at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, she spoke out against the Ecuadorian government for continuing to allow oil extraction on Indigenous land. She, along with 150 other environmental activists, started the movement "Polluters Out”, on January 24, 2020.
Xiye Bastida is a Mexican-Chilean climate activist and member of the Indigenous Mexican Otomi-Toltec nation. She is one of the major organizers of Fridays for Future New York City and is on the administration committee of the People's Climate Movement. Bastida is also the co-founder of Re-Earth initiative, whose mission is to make the climate movement accessible to all. The short video entitled Imagine The Future, which she collaborated on with 2040 film, offers an inspiring glimpse into a future we could have if we come together to tackle climate change this decade.
Bonus: The Sunrise Movement
The Sunrise Movement is a movement to make climate change a top priority in the United States. Their movement is based in telling stories and connecting with communities and community members in order to create change. They have a variety of campaigns, which range from Generation on Fire, where they’re walking over 600 miles across the Gulf South and California to win a robust Civilian Climate Corps, to Directing Biden’s Climate Policy which aims to hold the current administration accountable and ensure they make addressing climate change a priority.