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Is Gen Z the last hope for combatting climate change?

Young and fearless: 4 youth activists shaping the climate change narrative for a better future

A climate change protest poster saying "You'll die of old age We'll die of climate change"

Greta Thunberg has become a household name all over the world. The 18-year-old Swedish environmental activist has caused a stir in recent years. She first became aware of climate change when she was 8 years old. She was 11 years old when she decided not to speak because of climate change, and at 15 years old she started what would become a worldwide movement known as #FridaysforFuture.

Greta has gained significant traction through global campaigns, speeches to parliaments, documentaries, articles, and her most prestigious Nobel Peace Prize nomination. She has not only spoken out in front of the world, but she has also inspired other young activists to do the same. This article will showcase 4 of the emerging youth activists and what they're doing to aid the world.

Alexandria Villaseñor

Alexandria Villaseñor, 17, a supporter of Greta Thunberg who regularly skips school on Fridays to protest in front of the UN, was inspired and influenced by her trip to California in 2018 at the height of the state's most destructive wildfire in recorded history. Her asthma was aggravated by the wildfire smoke, which inspired her to look into how climate catastrophes like this are caused.

She was inspired and became a national and international organiser of the 2019 first-ever global youth climate strike, which brought together 1.6 million young people from 123 nations to urge world leaders to take action on

climate change.

She also had a significant influence by formally complaining to five major countries. As it breaches the UN convention, this lawsuit penalised them for their lack of involvement in climate change. Alexandria aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. She keeps gaining attention thanks to her 2019 Tribeca Film Festival "Disruptor Award," Politico's list of the top 100 people who shape climate policy, and her continued strikes, activism, and action until the change takes place.

Pooja Tilvawala

Pooja Tilvawala is a 2018 American university graduate who aided in ocean and climate-related projects at the meridian institute. Her original interest stemmed from a climate change conference she attended in college and was intrigued as to how within the environment and climate change, everything is intersected. When she worked for the Kennebunkport climate initiative as a youth network strategic consultant she identified a number of barriers young people face when getting involved in climate change. She was inspired to create a collective agency of youth climate movements.

The Youth Climate Collaborative was founded in 2019 with the aim to make the pathway easier for young people to get involved in climate work. Pooja identified that barriers are continuous and range from finances to retaining individuals' efforts. The organization allows a way for young people to access databases regarding climate projects near them as well as resources and opportunities for them to scale up their work.

Nyombi Morris

Nyombi Morris, a 24-year-old campaigner from Uganda, has personally seen the worst effects of climate change. The struggle to provide food and shelter for his mother, two siblings, and himself throughout his childhood in Uganda was already challenging enough without the abrupt, brief flooding. Their property was damaged and valuable objects were washed away whenever it rained and the surrounding river overflowed.

One day Nyombi saw people dumping rubbish into a water-only drainage system, causing blockages,

and that's when he realised the source of the issue.

When Nyombi questioned the people, they said that the government and rubbish collection businesses had not provided them with the appropriate assistance. He soon discovered that Uganda is extremely vulnerable to major climatic disasters, which struck a connection with him.

Nyombi, who is currently the CEO of his non-profit organisation "Earth Volunteers," a United Nations OCHA ambassador, and a future CNN environmentalist, has a clear vision about what he wants. He thinks influential figures haven't done enough to address and aid the climate change crisis. He wants international leaders to adopt new attitudes and begin valuing people's means of subsistence. According to Nyombi, the solution is for leaders to communicate with people as they do during elections and campaigns and to pay attention to what the public wants.

Kasha Slavner

Kasha Slaver, a 23-year-old multi-award-winning Canadian filmmaker, rounds out the list. '1.5 Degrees of Peace' and 'The Sunrise Storyteller,' two films by the filmmaker, storyteller, and social justice campaigner, explore the relationship between climate change and conflict. She was inspired by the way peace and climate justice are interconnected after attending a UN conference.

The Global Sunrise Project was founded as a space for her to tell stories and educate others about the cause as a result of this inspiration.

Kasha believes that peacebuilding is the best way to help the world deal with climate change, because a united front against the problem is more powerful. She not only leads workshops on climate change and peacebuilding, but she is also a National Geographic Learning public speaker.

The power of a single individual is underestimated. Greta Thunberg, alone, has inspired and ignited a passion in hundreds of young people around the world through her determination for one life-changing cause. This article's youth activists are not only products of this inspiration, but they are also creating a new narrative for a previously under-recognized area. If climate change is taken seriously, forests are restored and pollution is reduced, to name a few, global livelihood will increase exponentially. Gen Z is the generation causing a stir and a monumental impact but they cannot do it alone. It will take the world to combat climate change; but will it be world leaders or the youths of today who create enough noise to combat climate change?


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