2020 Activists

VANESSA NAKATE

Youth for Future Africa / Rise Up

24 years old, Uganda

Vanessa (24) started a climate activist movement in Uganda with her individual strike outside parliament in January 2019, to oppose the passivity of governments in the face of climate change.

In January 2020, she and other youth climate activists from around the world, publicly requested participants at the World Economic Forum in Davos to call on companies, banks and governments to immediately stop subsidising fossil fuels.

Vanessa has led a fundraising campaign to install solar systems and eco-friendly stoves in schools in rural communities to drive a transition to renewable energy. She founded the Youth for Future Africa and the Africa-based Rise Up Movement to help draw attention to the protection of Congolian rainforests, as well as the 1 Million Activist Stories platform.

MOHAMAD AL JOUNDE

Gharsah Sweden

19 years old, Sweden

Mohamad (19) grew up in Syria. At the age of 12, he fled to Lebanon and ended up in a refugee camp where he was not able to go to school. With the help of his family and other volunteers, Mohamad founded the Gharsah School in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, which supports Syrian refugees through educational, psychosocial and civil empowerment for children, adolescents and women. The school now reaches 240 children and 500 women on a yearly basis.

Mohamad is currently studying in Sweden, where he founded an NGO called Gharsah Sweden that aims to introduce the values of his work in Lebanon to local communities, as well as to raise funds to help sustain the Gharsah School. His NGO developed emergency plans to address the COVID-19 pandemic, distribute food baskets and hygiene kits, provide psychological support during the lockdown and develop online learning.

For his activism, Mohamad has received several international awards, including the International Children’s Peace Prize 2017 and MTV EMA Generation Change Award 2018.

ALEXANDRA CEREZO

Fashion Revolution

25 years old, Guatemala

Alexandra (25) is a Guatemalan fashion designer who advocates for the protection of humanity and the planet. She has worked to develop solution-based projects advancing sustainability in the apparel and textile industry.

Since 2017, she has carried out research on textile innovations within Guatemala’s fashion industry to connect both designers and manufacturers to facilitate a transition to sustainable fashion. She is the co-founder of the project ‘Ambiente Humano’ focusing on practical sustainability and will soon launch ‘Espacio Recreado’, which intends to shed light on the link between textile production and biodiversity.

Alexandra is the country coordinator for Fashion Revolution Guatemala.

FINLAY PRINGLE

Sea Shepherd

13 years old, Scotland

Finlay (13) is a Scottish marine conservation campaigner, climate change activist and Sea Shepherd Shark Ambassador.

He runs a campaign to ban shark fin soup in restaurants across the UK and to ban shark-finning worldwide. He also campaigns against marine plastic pollution and is always out litter picking and beach cleaning.

He won the 2019 Daily Mirror ‘Young Animal Hero of the year’, and collaborates with the education company Twinkl to produce global teaching resources for schools on sharks and climate change. He was the first young person in the UK to join the Fridays For Future (FFF) movement and began school striking every Friday from December 2018.

EMMA SLEIMAN & ZAHRAA ISSA

Locate Victims Beirut

15 and 21 years old, Lebanon

Emma & Zahraa have created “Locate Victims Beirut” which includes an Instagram page, a platform and a website to locate missing victims following the explosion on 4 August 2020 in Beirut. 36 hours after it went live, their Instagram account counted nearly 100,000 followers, demonstrating the need for such a platform. To respond to this urgent need, Emma & Zahraa set up a team of volunteers to collect, centralize, coordinate and compile lists of missing, found or hospitalized victims. They now also serve as a resource for victims to find the aid they need, including free shelter, humanitarian assistance, and psychological support.

FIONA AMONY

Restless Development

24 years old, Uganda

Fiona (24) is a Ugandan activist who has been fighting against sexual abuse and for girls’ empowerment since 2017, when she joined Restless Development as a Volunteer on the Girls’ Advocacy Alliance (GAA).

During the Covid-19 lockdown, she ran a call-centre to report cases of gender-based violence and economic exclusion. Within a month, Fiona filed more than 100 reported cases of sexual assault and harassment. Other cases related to employers failing to pay salaries were also reported.

She has been active in her community, whether through the media or meetings with key stakeholders, to shed light on the fact that thousands of school girls were impregnated and/or married off during the lockdown in Uganda.