Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Fires. Rising sea levels.
The news is full of stories featuring the devastating impact of climate change on children. At times, it can feel like the situation is hopeless.
While humanity has a massive task ahead - and not much time to do it - children and young people all around the world are taking action.
Meet the generation determined to save our planet - generation green. Will you join them?
“Do not litter, since the impact of plastic bags is very large at sea. There are many turtles and fish that get trapped in them, and many who die from this. Young people can help end mangrove contamination and protect the species that live there.”
- Marilyn, 17, Panama
“I have high hopes because I know there are many people who think like me. There are people who think about helping the environment, helping this world for generations to come.”
- Madeylin, 15, Panama
Marilyn and Madeylin Guardia are two Panamanian sisters who’ve grown up alongside the mangroves of Chame. From an early age, they’ve dedicated themselves to protecting the mangroves because they protect the community itself. This year, the project they're a part of, "Guardians of the Mangroves" reached the final selection of the Concausa regional initiative.
“Youth can do a variety of things to fight the climate crisis. For me, the most efficient is to come out into the streets and make your voice heard by the politicians and big companies.”
- Lorina, 19, Ukraine
Lorina is a sociology student. When she heard about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report saying we have only 11 years to solve the climate crisis she started to strike as part of the #FridaysforFuture movement.
“Everyone should be able to live in an environment conducive for their health and well-being. Climate change is here, and its impacts are only getting worse - unless we act now. I believe the best way young people can act against climate change is by educating the world on its impacts.”
- Macdonald, 19, Zimbabwe
Macdonald Chirara is the founder of a social enterprise Everlasting Technology with the mission to reduce organic waste and transition to renewable energy. His work is focused on engaging rural communities – communicating the urgency of the climate crisis and working on adaptation.
“What gives me hope is seeing the younger generation worrying about the problem. That every day there are more campaigns to raise awareness among others. When the Amazon fires started, I saw a lot of activity on digital platforms. Many messages from young people expressed concern about what was happening. This inspired me to create this illustration.”
- Juliette, 20, Cuba
Juliette Fernandez Hormiga has been drawing for as long as she can remember. Two years ago, she was a finalist in UNICEF’s global climate comic contest and her entry was recently published in a comic book. She is interested in using the creative arts to raise awareness about climate change.
“Young people are key actors in raising awareness and creating innovative solutions. Nowadays, young people are aware of the climate crisis and they are willing to implement their innovative ideas.”
- Tahsin, 21, Bangladesh
At the age of 12, Tahsin Uddin Ibne Rafiq started publishing a monthly newspaper to promote children’s creativity and highlight the impact of climate change on children in his community. In 2015, he created the Lal Sabuj Society to empower young people in his community to tackle climate change and promote children’s rights.
“We need a healthy environment to prevent our right to health from being violated. Our right to education is affected by floods and other phenomena resulting from climate change. Our right to food is affected because there is a shortage of fish and fruits that were previously in abundance, and our right to recreation - because there are fewer green areas, or they are contaminated and cannot be used.”
- Patricia, 19, Peru
Patricia Cárdenas lives in Loreto, Peru. She is currently studying accounting and promoting the United Teenagers Network for Rights and Climate Change (AUDECC-LORETO), with representatives from the eight provinces of Loreto.
“The first action you can take is to adopt a vegan diet. You can change your habits and make them more sustainable and be responsible consumers. And as a second action, resort to activism in all its forms, from talking with friends and family about this, to demanding urgent climate measures from governments.”
- Connie, 24, Argentina
Connie Isla is a singer, actress, and a social, environmental and animal activist. In addition to expressing this activism through her music, Connie uses her platforms to inform people about veganism, the climate crisis, sustainability, and social services.
“Young people can take the initiative to plant trees to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. They can use more environmentally friendly transport modes, such as buses, trains, bicycles and walking for short distances. They can also implement projects to prevent global warming in their communities, as I’m doing in my country, by teaching ecological values to children.”
- Kherann, 25, Côte d’Ivoire
Kherann Yao is a UNICEF Youth Advocate, student, and founder of Association Environnementale/ Green-Ivory, a group of young activists that works to protect, preserve and enhance the environment in Côte d'Ivoire. Kherann also works closely with children and regularly organizes awareness-raising workshops in primary schools.
“Young people have to mobilize and put pressure on the state to take action on the matter. In addition, we have to reposition environmentalism, not only as individual actions, but as a collective change and understand it as a social problem. The climate crisis will increase the already existing social inequalities in our communities. Because the first to lose their homes and remain adrift will be the most vulnerable sectors of society.”
-Nicole, 18, Argentina
Nicole Becker is a law student and activist with 'Jóvenes por el clima Argentina', a movement of young people raising their concerns to make sure climate action is put on the agenda.
“It is a struggle, because in the case of young people, we are talking about losing the possibility to develop our potential and go after our dreams. I did not want to leave my community, these are my lands, my grandparents lived here and I want my children to grow up here. That is why I defend and respect our Mother of the Earth - so that she remains our protector.”
- Israel, 22, Bolivia
After seeing the impact of climate change on his community in the natural area El Palmar, Israel Cervantes Vallejos decided to act. Together with other young people, he developed a community tourism venture that shows the natural beauty of his region and other forms of environmentally friendly community economies.
“We are not facing climate change, we are facing a climate crisis.
It's our future, so act now!”
- Mutia, 25, Indonesia
Elok Faiqotul Mutia is the Founder of Enter Nusantara, a youth organization focusing on raising awareness about climate change and promoting clean energy.
“Study, get informed. Climate change is a serious problem that must be tackled from the community level. The actions we take as individuals can serve to inspire others and create impact. As young people, we can break the patterns that led us to this crisis and look for different forms of production and economic models that respect the environment.
- María Isabel, 27, Guatemala
María Isabel Amorín Cabrera has a degree in chemistry and is passionate about science and research, especially putting the results it generates within society's reach. She believes that through science and technology, a linear economy can be transformed into a circular one that reduces the impact on the environment.