All we hear about is Greta Thunberg. Her European urban background seems so different from mine. Is environmentalism more for Westerners?

Not at all! There are many young environmental heroes from Southeast Asia who may not be as internationally recognized, but have made impressive strides in their fight for a safer future.

One of them is Aroe Ajoeni, co-founder of Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY), who held her own solo environmental protest in front of her college despite warnings from her institution to stop. She went on to help lead the Global Climate Strike in Malaysia.

Sahana Kaur, a 17-year-old Malaysian student, founded Project All for All to empower young people to take part in civic engagement and advance the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Her effort has reached more than 5,000 people around the world.

Mogesh Sababathy, a marine biology graduate , co-founded the ocean conservation NGO Project Ocean Hope that reached more than 10,000 people in 15 countries. Mitzi Jonelle Tan, the international spokesperson for Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, organized several protests despite the hefty risks of being an environmental rights defender in the Philippines—29 were killed in 2020.

You can read the comics of two local youth leaders’ journeys, and more stories in the YELL directories.

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