1. Mari Copeny, USA
11-year-old Mari Copeny, or “Little Miss Flint”, is not new to the activism game. At the age of 8, she met the then-US President Barack Obama after writing him a letter about the water shortages in her hometown of Flint, Michigan. Mari was already organizing water drives and raising awareness about Flint’s water crisis when she sent her letter. Not only did Obama reply but he invited her to meet him in person.
Mari wants to run for office in 2044 as her Instagram bio suggests. “Future President. Cheerleader. Role Model,” Mari is definitely one to watch.
2. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, USA
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians, a collective of artists and activists who want to unite in the face of the climate crisis. Having just turned 18, Xiuhtezcatl is an indigenous climate activist and hip-hop artist and began speaking around the world at the age of 6.
3. Sophia Mathur, 13 — Sudbury, Ont.
At just 11, Mathur was one of the first people in the world to join Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future protest and is credited with bringing the movement to Canada. Mathur followed in Thunberg’s footsteps and went on strike from school for more than a year.
In 2019, the Canadian Museum of Nature presented Mathur with a Nature Inspiration Award in the youth category, noting “how powerful a child’s voice can be when talking to politicians.”
4. Sàj Starcevich, 14 — Melfort, Sask.
A member of the Carry the Kettle (Cega’Kin) Nakoda Nation, Starcevich has seen first-hand evidence of climate change close to home: unprecedented flooding in her community, and wildfire smoke, and seasonal extremes that have hindered her from enjoying the outdoors.
Starcevich has taken part in rallies and protests in Saskatchewan and Canada and was one of 15 young activists who filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the federal government for its inaction on climate change. “The youth have to step up because no one else has,” she said.
5. Kevin J. Patel 18, USA
Kevin is a climate activist and founder of the soon-to-launch One Up Action, a climate action organization poised to help youth become leaders. Growing up in a marginalized Los Angeles neighborhood, one of the most polluted cities in America, Patel was diagnosed with heart palpitations stemming from that pollution at age 14. It’s a common problem that will only get worse as the climate crisis increases human health risks, especially for young people.