Over the last year, Greta Thunberg has evolved from a 16-year-old activist to a household name. On Sept. 20, an estimated 185 countries participated in the school strike she organized in the name of Climate Change. Her recent appearance at the UN has empowered young activists worldwide.
While Thunberg has been a strong and inspirational influence, it is important to recognize that other activists–especially indigenous activists and activists of color– who have contributed equally impactful work have received minimal to no recognition. One such figure is Irsa Hirsi, the executive director and co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike. At 16, Hirsi began as an activist for racial and religious injustice, but shifted her focus to climate change and how it disproportionately affects people of color. Hirsi works to inform her community and urge action among young people.
Another activist deserving of attention is Xiye Bastida, who grew up in Mexico believing it is our duty to take care of the earth. Bastida is 17 years old and a part of several climate organizations such as the People’s Climate Movement, the Sunrise Movement and the Extinction Rebellion.
Last year, twenty-three-year-old Nina Gualinga won the World Wide Fund for Nature’s youth conservation award.
Activism is becoming even more important as the effects of climate change inch closer, and if adults won’t fix these problems, this generation will have to take them into their own hands.