Meet the Unsung Heroes in the Fight Against our Climate Crisis

Around the world, women, youth, indigenous leaders and other climate warriors are leading the way to solutions on the climate crisis. They understand that what we do now to fight the impacts of climate change means much more than preventing rising temperatures, droughts and floods. It means improving livelihoods and leaving behind the best possible chance of a livable Earth for generations to come. The stories below represent just three voices in the hundreds of thousands fighting on the front-lines.

#YouthOnClimate are taking a stand

In December, people from around the world took their demands to COP21 in Paris where nearly 200 countries agreed to step up to combat climate change. But the journey doesn’t end there. Every day, grassroots activists lead the fight against climate change in their communities — many of them under 30.

The collective voices of young people on the front lines of environmental destruction have built chorus of activists calling for action against climate change — and their stories are inspiring us #BeyondParis.

There’s Ekai Nabenyo, who is teaching his pastoralist community in northern Kenya how to cope with scarce water and spiking temperatures, made worse by oil and gas companies.

Ekai Nabenyo, Kenya, Photo credit: Project Survival Media / John Wambugu
“As a young activist I will be lobbying the Paris summit to ensure my people, the Turkana — along with others in Africa — do not lose out to drought and developers.” -Ekai Nabenyo

In 2012, Ekai mobilized student-elites in his village to form the Lorengelup Community Development Initiative, to address youth empowerment, community development and environmental conservation.

Or, Luis Canelos, who studies civil engineering so he can help his indigenous Ecuadorian Amazon community protect its forests and preserve its way of life.

Luis Canelos, Ecuador, Photo credit: Survival Media Agency/Project Survival Media

His group, Youth Coalition For Our Forests (Coalicion Juvenil por los Bosques), brings together young people to build a network of community-led organizations that are creating grassroots solutions to the climate crisis.

And, in the Cordillera region of the Philippines, indigenous youth use song and dance to defend their rights against mining companies eager to develop their forested lands.

Meet more #YouthOnClimate on the front-lines of the fight.

Indigenous leaders in Papua New Guinea are protecting their resources and preserving a way of life

Decades of pollution, destructive fishing techniques, and the effects of deforestation for palm oil plantations are to blame for the dwindling marine resources in the Pacific Islands, where 80 percent of rural people live off the water and land.

“I can’t even feed my family with the one or two fish I’m catching in five hours. If I can’t feed my family, what’s my son going to catch?” — Farmer, Papa New Guinea
Photo credit: Anderson Smith & Des Paroz, Flickr Creative Commons

The Cape Holicote Bay Marine Resource Management Committee travels from community to community leading seminars about protecting the mangroves, sea grasses, and coral reefs that protect fish and provide food for islanders. This is no easy feat considering there are 860 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea alone. About 3,000 indigenous people, half of whom are youth, will eventually participate in the seminars. The group has even involved the government and a climate change officer in its campaign and proposed innovative scientific measures to revive depleted fish populations.

Read more about the Cape Holicote Bay Marine Resource Management Committee’s efforts to preserve their marine resources.

Women in South Sudan are using clean cookstoves to live healthier, safer lives and become environmental leaders

Women in Yei are responsible for gathering firewood that fuels the traditional cooking stoves their families use to prepare food. Since 2013, civil war in the region has forced citizens fleeing violence to re-settle in areas already depleted of resources. Deforestation further plagues the area due to the relentless demand for cooking fuel. So, collecting firewood can take up to five hours, soil erosion is spreading, and trees are disappearing dangerously fast.

Photo credit: COSV, Flickr Creative Commons

That’s why the women-led Forum for Community Change and Development launched a campaign in 2013 to train women in the Yei region to use and build improved cooking stoves. The new stoves require 75 percent less firewood than traditional stoves so women don’t have to make as many dangerous journeys to the forest.

Empowered by their skills and understanding of their basic rights as household leaders, these women share their training with their communities and schools. Interest has grown to the point that some project facilities can’t accommodate the number of women who want to participate in trainings. The community is also taking fewer resources from the environment.

See how these women are finding salvation in stoves.

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