Born in 1995, Elizabeth Wathuti founded Kenya's Green Generation Initiative (GGI) in 2016, at the age of only 21! The GGI is a non-profit organisation which takes action in the course of educating and empowering children and the surrounding communities to find a passion in nature and develop a love for it. Therefore, in inspiring the generation of the future, Wathuti's initiative is generating a greener and more environmentally conscious society in Kenya, and may potentially spread to neighbouring countries and beyond as the GGI continues to grow.
The GGI is greatly reflective of Wathuti's own passion, as she was raised in the central highlands of Kenya and has previously discussed the manner in which she would frequently spend her days as a child amongst the bushes and in the surrounding natural environment. Furthermore, she has outlined her experience in witnessing deforestation first-hand, how the forests she used to play in have since been cut down and that the freshwater streams she used to drink from are now polluted or dried up. Whilst it is tragic and frustrating to witness the joys of childhood crumble in such a way, Wathuti harnessed her rage into an unstoppable will to fight for Kenya's environment, our planet and humanity, thus inspiring the GGI, an initiative already responsible for the planting of over 30,000 trees across Kenya!
"This anger then gave me a hunger to do something about global environmental challenges like deforestation and climate change for the sake of humanity's survival" - Elizabeth Wathuti
2. Boyan Slat
Entrepreneur and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan Slat is a brilliant and inventive young man from the Netherlands, with a passion for saving our oceans.
At just 18 years old, Slat invented his very first ocean saving device, a non-polluting piece of equipment which floats on the surface of the water to trap and collect plastic entering rivers before it could reach the sea; that same year, Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup (TOC), a non-profit organisation focused on developing and scaling new technology which may serve us in ridding our oceans of plastic. Further down the line, the operations and impact of the TOC have expanded from Slat's hometown in the Netherlands to an international scale in current day, with the latest model of his mechanisms being able to collect plastic of any scale, from the tiniest fleck to large debris such as abandoned fishing nets, resulting the TOC having cleared a grand total of around 200,000kg of plastic from our oceans as of January 2023.
If you hold the belief that the root trigger for all of this passion and creativity was some grand event then you are mistaken, in fact it was a simple fishing trip which Slat had partaken in during a family holiday in Greece. Slat recounted that, during this trip, he had seen more plastic bags than he did fish and so he thought "why can't we just clean this up?", and the rest is history.
3. Ilyess El Kortbi
Born in Ukraine and raised in Morocco, to then return to Ukraine at age 14, Ilyess is a climate activist who wished to participate in the climate action protests of 2019 whereby a total of around 3,800 events across 150 countries lead to millions of individuals striking from their occupations and education, demanding that more significant climate action be taken by governing bodies of the globe. Upon discovering that no such event had registered to be undertaken in Ukraine, Ilyess gathered their friends and sparked a climate action protest in Ukraine. To attribute to their success in raising awareness for climate justice, Ilyess now stands as the board secretary for Fridays For Future (FFF) in Ukraine.
FFF is a youth-led global climate strike movement, started by Greta Thunberg in August 2018, which organises and practices global climate strike events with the purpose of raising awareness regarding the detrimental effects which our planet continues to suffer from at the hands of climate change due to accelerated global warming, and demands action from governing bodies such as to "Follow the Paris Agreement" and "Climate Justice & Equity for Everyone".
As a result of the Russian invasion on Ukraine, Ilyess has to flee from Kyiv to Berlin, and yet they still continue to raise awareness for the changing climate across Germany and continue to push for greater climate action.
4. Greta Thunberg
There are few people across the globe who have never heard the name Greta Thunberg, the vast majority have heard her story, how she sat herself down outside the Swedish Parliament on every single school day for the 3 weeks leading up to to the Swedish election, demanding urgent action towards reducing the impact of the climate crisis. Her reasoning for doing so? She was simply tired of seeing society's unwillingness to acknowledge the planet's deteriorating environmental state as a real crisis.
At the beginning of this process she protested alone, but she was soon joined by others, spurring the hashtag "Fridays For Future", as previously mentioned, and encouraging students around the globe to join and participate in their cause, leading to the global school strikes for climate in 2019.
After inspiring countless of children and adults alike around the globe, Greta continually organises a multitude of protests to push for the response against climate change which our planet so desperately needs and has even written books to reach out and inform people further on the matter.
5. Leah Namugerwa
Most people would spend their 15th birthday by having a party with friends, or perhaps going for a pleasant family meal, however Namugerwa chose to celebrate her birthday with climate action by planting 200 trees in her local area in Uganda. Furthermore, she then went on to establish the 'Birthday Trees' project to raise awareness for climate action and inspire others to follow suit on their own birthdays. In turn, the powerful sentiment of this project and her continued engagement in raising awareness for climate action earned her an audience with the leaders of the world as, at the age of 19, she recently gave a speech to inspire climate action at COP27 in November 2022. Additionally, she continues to partake in the Fridays For Future cause alongside the likes of Greta Thunberg and Ilyess El Kortbi.