Youth Taking the Lead

Greta Thunberg and other youth activists around the world demand climate action.

Right: Autumn Peltier, 15, Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation. Photo: Global Landscapes Forum, Flickr CC.
Autumn Peltier, 15, Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation. Photo: Global Landscapes Forum, Flickr CC.

Earlier this year in the Feb/Mar issue of EcoNews, the Kin to the Earth column introduced readers to Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist whose weekly climate strikes were taking hold around Europe and the world. In March, 1.6 million people in 133 countries marched with her for climate action—at the time the largest climate action in history. On September 20, she again led the world in a massive strike, doubling the former attendance record with an estimated 4 million students and adults skipping school and work to disrupt daily life in demand of urgent climate action. A week later, the strike on September 27 broke the record again with 6 million reported participants.

At the recent United Nations (U.N.) Climate Action Summit in New York, youth from around the world spoke on behalf of their respective countries and for all youth and generations to come, calling out the lack of crisis-appropriate actions being undertaken by world leaders thusfar. “How dare you,” Greta admonished.

While Greta undoubtedly has become a leader, speaking before crowds of thousands, governments, and world leaders at the U.N., she is not the only youth activist deserving of our attention.

Youth around the world are taking the lead in activism and are being heard. Young people tend to feel a greater sense of urgency because they know they will be alive to suffer more of the consequences resulting from the lack of action by prior generations.

The following are a few other committed youth activists who are taking a stand and making a difference.

Isra Hirsi, 16 – The daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar, Isra was a social justice advocate before becoming involved with the climate movement.

Autumn Peltier, 15 – Autumn has been fighting for water conservation and indigenous water rights in her native territory since she was 8 years old. She is Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation.

Bruno Rodriguez, 19 – Bruno has organized student walkouts in his home of Buenos Aires, calling for other young people to fight government complacency and pollution by corporations.

Helena Gualinga, 17 – Helena has fought her whole life to protect land from resource exploitation in the Ecuadorian Amazon by fighting for indigenous rights protections.

Mari Copeny, 12 – When Mari was 8, she wrote a letter to President Obama about the Flint, MI water crisis, and recently started #WednesdaysForWater for water awareness.