Young Leaders in the Environmental Justice Movement

Wisconsin Water Library > Water Library Blog > Young Leaders in the Environmental Justice Movement

By: India-Bleu Niehoff, Water Library Student Assistant

Earth Day, which takes place on April 22 of every year, started in the spring of 1970. It was invented by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, as a way of establishing environmentalism as an important national cause. 54 years later, it is celebrated not only nationally but internationally. To celebrate Earth Day this year, the Wisconsin Water Library is choosing to focus on the young activists and leaders who are currently continuing the fight for climate and environmental justice. Around the world, these young voices are speaking up and using their voice to positively make a difference. 

Here are a select few of the many leaders:

Autumn Peltier is an Anishinaabekwe from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada. Born in 2004, Peltier has been an outspoken advocate for clean water from a young age, and currently serves as the Anishinabek Nation Chief Water Commissioner.

Mari Copeny is a 16-year old activist who started her journey bringing attention to the Flint Water Crisis. She has since expanded her activist and philanthropic efforts to advocate for communities in need of clean water across the United States.

Licypriya Kangujam is a 12-year old climate and environmental activist from India, who has advocated for laws to curb India’s high pollution levels, as well as to make climate-change literacy mandatory in schools.

Every time Lesein Mutunkei scores a goal, he plants 11 trees. The (now) 20-year old footballer created the organization Trees4Goals to help combat Kenya’s mass-deforestation. Mutunkei’s actions, as well as larger national movements has resulted in Kenya’s forest coverage increasing from just 6% in 2018 to 9% in 2022.

Xiye Bastida, is a 21-year old climate justice activist from the Otomi-Toltec Indigenous community. Dedicated to advocating for all voices in the environmental/climate justice movement, Bastida has won numerous notable awards for her work.

To learn about even more youth activists explore these resources.

Learn about 16 more youth activists from Unity Environmental University. 16 Young Environmentalists Changing the World

In this article from National Geographic, learn about even more youth leaders. Greta wasn’t the first to demand climate action

In this article from Britt Hawthorne, they specifically highlight young black climate activists. 10 Young Black Climate Activists to Watch.

Read this article from Vox that underscores the contributions of young activists of color in the environmental movement. Meet the young activists of color who are leading the charge against climate disaster.

Explore this article from MCE that looks at specific organizations for youth activists. Youth Activism in your Community

In this article from UNDP, the authors discuss the importance of youth voices in the movement. Tapping into the power of young people for climate action.

This article from UNICEF, looks at even more youth activist, and even has short videos talking to them, allowing you to hear their own words. Young climate activists demand action and inspire hope.

Read this article from Do Something, where they look at 7 activists who are addressing both climate and racial justice. 7 Young Activists working at the Intersection of Environmental and Racial Justice.

The actions of these young leaders are amazing, but everyone can be a leader in the environmental justice movement. There are small steps we can all take that ultimately have a large impact. Here are a few resources that can provide guidance on where to start.

Explore this article from Imperial that looks at 9 things we can all do about climate change. 9 things you can do about climate change

Read this article from the United Nations which discusses the small (and large) things one can do to make a difference. Actions for a Health Planet