COP 26 took place in Glasgow, Scotland over 12 days from 1 November to 12 November 2021. Leaders from all around the globe, representing the 190 members of the United Nation, were in attendance to discuss how to tackle climate change.
The next decade is critical in reversing damaging trends, such as rising temperatures and extreme weather conditions. The IRC is committed to responding to the impacts of climate change on the communities we serve.
But it's not just leaders who are taking action. Around the world, individuals are leading the fight against climate change; calling on their governments and corporations to take action to protect our planet and ensure we all have a safe place to call home. From asking governments and corporations to do their part to school strikes, grass-root initiatives like tree-planting and innovative recycling systems.
Here are just 12 activists from around the world who are inspiring us, today:
1. Ilyess El Korbi
Born in Ukraine, Ilyess grew up in Morrocco, moving back to Ukraine when they were 14-years-old. When Ilyess wanted to take part in climate movement protests in 2019, they discovered that none had yet been registered in Ukraine. Together with friends, they changed this and Ilyess is now the board secretary of Fridays For Future Ukraine.
When the war broke out in Ukraine, Ilyess was in Kyiv and fortunately was able to flee to Berlin a short time after. Together with other climate activists in Germany, they are now raising awareness about the situation in Ukraine and the climate crisis.
2. Dominique Palmer
Dominique Palmer is a climate justice activist and student at the University of Birmingham, England. She is involved in the youth-led climate strike movement, Fridays for Future that started in August 2018. She uses her platform to share information on how to take action and discusses themes of gender and race within the climate crisis.
3. Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti
Award-winning Kenyan environment activist Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti founded the Green Generation Initiative which has planted over 30,000 tree seedlings in Kenya and encourages young people to discover and care for nature.
"When I was younger, I had an opportunity to spend time in nature, in the central highlands of Kenya, but along the way, I witnessed deforestation firsthand. The wild forests I liked to play in were cut down. The streams I used to drink from are now polluted or drying up.
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
The natural world my friends and I knew as children changed before our eyes and this made me feel so angry and heartbroken. 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. Stories of lost forests and poisoned rivers are not unique to my community, or even my country: this is something we all share, in Africa, around the world. I have since then been determined to do something to stop this destruction while inspiring the love for nature among children and I’m so encouraged to know that I am not alone."
4. Leah Namugerwa
Leah Namugerwa has become known for celebrating her 15th birthday by planting 200 trees! She went on to found the Birthday Trees project so others can follow suit. As well as her tree planting campaign, Leah kick started a petition to enforce a plastic bag ban in Uganda.
5. Michaela Loach
When she is not studying medicine, Mikaela Loach is a sustainable lifestyle blogger based in Edinburgh. Mikaela first started speaking up on the issue after reading about the refugee crisis and visiting Calais. “One day I realised that these things were really interconnected: the climate crisis is connected to the refugee crisis, and they are both also connected to racial injustice and the legacies of colonialism,” she told Global Citizen.
6. Tori Tsui
Bristol-based Tori Tsui is a climate activist, speaker and writer from Hong Kong and New Zealand. Featured as Stella McCartney’s agent of change in 2019, she is working on her debut book due for release in 2022.
Tori told us: “Climate justice for me is about survival and a very rudimentary and basic love for the planet and its inhabitants. Climate justice is a chance for us to rewrite and transform our relationships with one another and campaign for reparative actions that benefit society’s most marginalised. It is essential in tackling the climate crisis.”
“Climate justice for me is about survival and a very rudimentary and basic love for the planet and its inhabitants. "
7. Fatou Jeng
Fatou Jeng is a youth climate activist in Gambia, focused on education, conservation and planting trees. She founded Clean Earth Gambia. Currenlty, Fatou is studying for a Masters in Environment, Development and Policy at the University of Surrey.
8. Greta Thunberg
A global figure and a key name in the climate conversation, we couldn’t compile a list of climate warriors without including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. What originally began as a solo protest outside of her school, has now snowballed into Fridays for Future, an international school strike on involving millions around the world. Not only that but in 2019 she sailed across the atlantic to attend the UN climate conference. Later that year, she was crowned Time’s Magazine person of the year.
9. David Attenborough
No introduction needed for Sir David Attenborough who, in the UK, has long been an advocate for the planet. While he may not be as active on social media as some others in the list, over the years his name has become synonymous for learning about, and caring for the planet we call home.
10. Ecaterina Lutisina
Ecaterina is a 31-year old activist based in Moldova. She is an advocate for mental health, animal rights and the climate crisis. After a long involvement with the climate moment, she co-founded the Extinction Rebellion Branch in Moldova. Over the last few years, they have organized protests, lectures, flash mobs and tree-planting initiates to mobilize people in Moldova for the climate.
When the war broke out in Ukraine, she and her friends mobilised very quickly and set-up “Moldova for peace”. So far, they have brought together over 50,000 people to support refugees, helping to provide food and shelter. “I feel very grateful that we are neighbors with Ukraine. The courage and the power of people is just so inspiring.”
11. Lesein Mutunkei, Kenya
17-year-old environmental activist from Kenya, Lesein Mutunkei, has found a way to marry two of his greatest passions: football and the environment. Since 2018, every time he scores a goal with his football team, Lesein has vowed to plant 11 trees - one for each team player. Now he is calling on other schools and clubs to adopt his Trees 4 Club initiative.
12. John Paul Jose
John Paul Jose is an environmental and climate activist from Kerala, India. His accolades range from collaboration with NGOs and the UN and delivering Tedx Talks - all before his 24th birthday. With first-hand experience of the impact of climate change, John Paul is committed to highlighting how global warming is affecting India’s forests and ecosystems.