We at The Hunger Project are committed to elevating the voices of young leaders. In early 2022, we had the honor of hosting two events to highlight the impact of young climate activists from around the world on the sidelines of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and during the Skoll World Forum Ecosystem Day.
Both events featured four amazing activists. Sadia Ibnat Maliha, a student from Bangladesh active in The Hunger Project’s Youth Ending Hunger Program; Mitchelle Mhaka, a student activist passionate about ensuring equitable access to climate information in South Africa; Andrea Villarreal Rodriguez, an environmental activist and storyteller from Monterrey, Mexico who is creating safe spaces for girls to learn documentary filmmaking so they can tell their own stories; and Zainab Zahid an aspiring environmental scientist turned advocate who has represented Pakistan at several international climate events, including the UN’s 26th Conference of Parties in the United Kingdom.
These women are proof that young leaders are paving the way toward progress. They are not constrained by the protocols and processes governing international spaces and are leveraging their creativity to generate solutions, action and hope.
Through the stories of their activism journeys, it became increasingly clear that there is an urgent need to bring diverse voices and experiences to the table when generating solutions for the climate crisis. We need to ensure that we are truly listening to everyone’s experiences and ideas. As Zainab pointed out during the event, “there is no right way to be a climate activist.”
Andrea also pointed out, “we don’t need a few people doing things perfectly. We need a billion people doing the best they can.” To build on this, during the UN Commission on the Status of Women, we brought the audience into breakout rooms to discuss different ways that each person attending could elevate the voices of youth in climate conversations over the course of their daily work. Some of their suggestions include:
- Fund youth movements and allow youth to pioneer their own interventions and programs.
- Design engagement opportunities around school hours to allow for more youth participation.
- Create emotional connections to the issue.
- Create platforms that can be accessed by the youth, especially women and those in marginalized communities.
- Help youth understand the importance of preserving climate and nature by reaching them where they are, but be aware that the power of social media can be exaggerated. Sometimes face-to-face conversations can generate hope and optimism, even around such a serious topic.
- Emphasize the importance of leading from wherever you are. We can’t all be world-famous activists but we can make a huge difference in our own communities that could have a domino effect that leads to legislation, action and progress.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to join us at either CSW or at the Skoll World Forum, you can watch the recordings here: