Youth Advisory Council
Launched in 2016, the Youth Advisory Council helps develop World Ocean Day as a unique opportunity to connect and unite youth and others from all sectors for collective ocean and climate action throughout the year. Council members and alumni now number approximately 140 from 60 countries.
Abdul Na-eem Muniru
Abdul Na-eem Muniru
In the heart of Ghana, where the rhythm of life is entwined with the land and its people, Abdul Na-eem Muniru’s (he/him) story unfolds like a tapestry of passion, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of change. Hailing from the vibrant city of Wa, Abdul’s journey has been shaped by an unwavering commitment to environmental conservation, social justice, and the deep blue mysteries of our oceans.
As a recent graduate of the University of Education Winneba, where he studied Political Science Education and Geography, Abdul Na-eem brings a multidisciplinary perspective to the challenges facing our planet. But his story goes beyond academia; it's a narrative of action and advocacy that resonates with those who share his passion for change.
Abdul Na-eem’s path to environmental activism was ignited through a series of experiences that brought him closer to the heart of our blue planet. His journey began with remote externships that opened his eyes to the profound connections between humanity and the natural world. Working with organizations like Credera, Greenpeace USA, and the National Geographic Society, he delved into cultural competences, accessibility issues, and marine conservation.
It was during his remote externship with the National Geographic Society and the Nature Conservancy that Abdul felt an unbreakable bond with the ocean. Here, he conducted primary research that explored the intriguing interplay between superstitious beliefs and marine conservation. Armed with his storytelling prowess, he crafted compelling story maps on ArcGIS, bringing to life the intricate relationship between superstitions and the health of our marine ecosystems. This experience intensified his advocacy for our blue planet, propelling him to the forefront of marine conservation efforts.
But Abdul Na-eem’s journey doesn't end with research and advocacy. He's a hands-on advocate for the environment. His volunteer experiences with GRIPE, where he combats plastic waste in the oceans of Ghana, and his role as a Gensea member, further exemplify his dedication to the cause. These experiences ground him in the reality of environmental challenges and drive him to find practical solutions.
Abdul Na-eem’s advocacy is not limited to the shores of Ghana; it's a global mission. His abstract presentation at the West Africa Marine Science Symposium in 2023 showcased his dedication to marine conservation. He not only presented a poster but also took on the role of a session moderator, demonstrating his commitment to sharing knowledge and fostering collaboration among experts in the field.
In Abdul Na-eem Muniru, we find a passionate advocate for our environment, a storyteller who weaves narratives of change, and a dedicated activist ready to combat marine plastic pollution and protect our oceans. His journey is a testament to the power of individuals to make a difference, and he stands as an inspiring example of what can be achieved when passion meets purpose.
Aoun Ali (he/him), a high school student from Karachi, Pakistan, is a passionate advocate for both climate activism and STEM. His journey into the world of climate advocacy began with a deep-rooted concern for the environment and a fervent desire to make a positive impact on the world.
From a young age, Aoun exhibited a natural curiosity about the environment and a thirst for knowledge in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This curiosity led him to explore various aspects of STEM, from coding and AI to alternative energy solutions. Aoun's dedication and hard work in these fields were rewarded with a full scholarship to The Knowledge Society, the world's top global accelerator for young innovators.
As he delved deeper into STEM, Aoun realized the critical role that science and technology play in addressing the pressing issue of climate change. This revelation ignited his passion for climate activism. Aoun believes that the power of STEM can be harnessed to develop innovative solutions for the environmental challenges we face.
Aoun's commitment to climate activism is reflected in his involvement with organizations like the Youth Climate Action Team Inc., where he serves as the Global Affairs Co-Director. In this role, he collaborates with international partners to establish regional branches and work on initiatives aimed at combatting climate change.
Additionally, Aoun's dedication to environmental education is evident through his leadership as the Regional Leader and Founder of YCAT Pakistan, a division of YCAT Inc. He works tirelessly with his team to raise awareness about climate issues, lobby for change, and organize climate education workshops.
Aoun's remarkable journey underscores his belief that the intersection of STEM and climate activism holds the key to creating a sustainable future. His tireless efforts, leadership, and commitment to these causes make him a shining example of how young individuals can drive meaningful change in the world, one innovative solution and one climate advocacy initiative at a time.
Saint Lucia, 2023
Saint Lucia, 2023
Brodi Louis (she/her) is a 23-year-old from the gorgeous island of Saint Lucia. Brodi is a versatile, effective, and results-driven professional with a passion for marketing, event management, environmental activism, and human resource management. On her priority list, taking care of the blue world that we call home comes first. She is a youth leader and advocate for climate conservation and green practices starting with the education of young people.
The Bahamas, 17
The Bahamas, 17
Charissa Taylor (she/her) is a 17-year-old aspiring Marine Biologist, and Environmental Advocate. Born and raised in the beautiful islands of the Bahamas, Charissa has grown to become an ocean activist. Her passion for environmental advocacy first started at a sailing camp she attended in 2016. She considers this a very pivotal role in her life as this is what truly sparked her passion for marine advocacy and conservation.
Charissa states that she can vividly recall visiting beaches with her parents as a child or going on boat rides and seeing healthy reefs filled with biodiversity and a wide variety of healthy marine life. Now that she is older, she asserts that boat rides, and SCUBA trips are no longer what they were, as the reefs are completely wiped out, and the bright healthy coral reefs she once snorkeled in are now white and dull due to coral bleaching, in addition to human induced damage. Notwithstanding, Charissa lives by the philosophy that she should be the change she desires to see. Resultantly, Charissa aspires to specialize in coral restoration, and coral ecology and has even worked along with other NGO’s including FEM STEM Bahamas, Black in Marine Science in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, and the Perry Institute for Marine Science to restore, and advocate for this vital resource.
As Charissa has recently embarked on a new journey, taking her passion to another level by pursuing a degree in oceanography, she is confident that she will continue to make positive contributions to her community, while simultaneously increasing awareness about our blue planet. Charissa believes that the greatest threat to our planet is the lack of awareness surrounding environmental issues, and thus, she is excited to serve as a council member, mitigate the effects of a lack of awareness, and actively inspire and promote change across a global scale.
Charissa’s goal is to one day work at a large impactful company, engaging in groundbreaking research and working along with other like-minded individuals to solve some of the global ills faced by our society. She believes that with God on her side, and an attitude of perseverance, her desire to see change will ultimately be made a reality.
Daffa Praditya Devano
Daffa Praditya Devano
Daffa Praditya (He/Him) was raised and born in an archipelago country named Indonesia, situated in the heart of “the lost world Atlantis” and his life was tremendously connected to the sea as he never lived far away from the sea. Yet, his wonderful time as a youth has been ruined by the sea-level rising that threatens his family. These overwhelming experience has triggered Daffa to be a Youth Advocate and work with people to enhance their knowledge and capacity to protect the richness and diversity of nature in the country.
During the last few years, Daffa has been working with various organisations such as UNICEF, Fridays For Future, and Plan International which aims to widely spread advocacy on the climate crisis for all layers of generations and stakeholders. He has been representing Young Indonesia voices at COP27 in Egypt and Stockholm+50 in Sweden to advocate the issues of Polluted Oceans, Climate Education, Just Transition, and Sustainable Cities. He also was selected for the YSEALI Scholarship by the U.S. Department of State to comprehensively learn about Marine Life in Vietnam.
He is hoping that as a youth living in the biggest archipelago country in the world, he will be able to contribute his advocacy to the people to protect our lovely ocean as this is the greatness and the pride we have as a nation. Daffa is tremendously excited to work with World Ocean Day, particularly in enabling our ocean to be more protected and learn the values offered by the ocean to us, either its diversity, uniqueness, and beauty. He's ready to come up with numerous great ideas ahead!
Daira Velasquez Fonseca
Daira Velasquez Fonseca
Daira (she/her) is a Peruvian environmental activist currently based in Hong Kong. She grew up in Chiclayo, a coastal city in northern Peru. From a young age, she developed a profound love for the sea through family trips to local beaches, long walks watching the waves, and enjoying fresh ceviche prepared with fish caught locally that day - experiences that sparked her lasting passion for the ocean.
She was recognized as “one of the world’s most promising teens” in 2021 by Forbes magazine due to her work to economically empower Indigenous entrepreneurs and give visibility to their culture in Peru through her initiative “Incluye Pe” that also won the national UNICEF-sponsored award “Premio America Solidaria” due to its contribution to fulfilling the sustainable development goals. In addition, she works with various regional organisations such as the Latin American Leadership Academy, where she served as an Admission Officer, to increase youth’s engagement in social change and the development of the region.
As a result, she was selected to attend Li Po Chun UWC, one of the 18 schools part of the United World College (UWC) movement that strives to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. There she participates in a CNN Call to Earth program focused on protecting coral communities and mangrove ecosystems in Hong Kong. Through the school's collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature, she was trained as a diver and helped survey the condition of local coral communities in Hong Kong waters, which are facing threats from pollution and rising water temperatures, and organised the first Marine Awareness week in her school to spread awareness of the importance of the conservation of marine ecosystems.
Daira believes that engaging youth and fighting for climate justice are critically important. As a member of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, she’ll strive to empower the younger generations to raise their voices against the threats our planet and oceans are facing. It is her belief that a more sustainable future depends on active engagement from all segments of society, especially the youth who will inherit the challenges ahead and who, through their collective ideals, activism and innovations, have the power to transform our relationship with the planet and secure a thriving future for our oceans.
Dana Ahmed (she/her) is a 20-year-old Law and Politics student at the University of Glasgow involved in ocean conservation advocacy work and creating accessible and inclusive climate ocean education. She’s a member of IRENA’s Youth Forum and was a youth delegate in IRENA's ninth and tenth assembly sessions. At COP27, she presented the first MENA ocean action plan at the blue zone's action hub, creating the first-of-its-kind framework for ocean solutions in the region. She’s Egypt’s contact point in the SDG7 constituency group, an arctic ice force hub leader in Egypt leading educational arctic workshops and contributing to building the legal framework for an arctic moratorium in MENA, and the youngest member of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance Youth Policy Advisory Council of 2022 serving as Secretary and Representative of Egypt.
Dana is passionate about members most affected by the lack of urgency in the climate crisis and has thus founded EcoSpectrum, the world's first organization and soon-to-be mobile app aiming to elevate youth's inclusivity on the spectrum of autism in ocean conservation discussions. Dana is currently launching the Asfour Initiative which encompasses working with indigenous local Egyptian communities living on the coasts of the Nile, Mediterranean, and Red Sea to elevate their unique stories and provide graphical educational tools for an accessible and localized ocean literacy curriculum. Through the art of crocheting marine dolls stuffed with collected plastic from each community’s coastlines, the Asfour Initiative contributes to creating jobs and advancing ocean education in vulnerable communities across the coasts of Egypt and beyond.
Dani de Veer
Dani de Veer
Dani de Veer (they/them), aged 22, comes from a diverse heritage encompassing Cuban, Aruban, and Puerto Rican roots. Born in Aruba and raised between this small island paradise and the vibrant shores of South Florida, Dani's lifelong connection to the ocean has shaped their journey.
Growing up amidst the sun-soaked beaches of Aruba and South Florida, Dani's fascination with the ocean began early in life. The allure of the underwater world became a central theme, leading them to commit to its protection. Dani's admiration for whales is rooted in their sheer beauty and significance as indicators of ocean health. Through in-depth research on whale populations and their interactions with the marine environment, Dani aspires to contribute to the conservation of these magnificent creatures. Furthermore, Dani's heart is deeply invested in the protection of coral reefs, ecosystems teeming with vibrant marine life. These fragile habitats face threats from climate change and human activities. Dani is determined to be a part of research and conservation initiatives that help these vital ecosystems recover.
As a member of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, Dani de Veer is committed to raising awareness about the urgent need to protect our oceans. They firmly believe in the vital role of youth in shaping a sustainable future. Through advocacy and dedication, Dani inspires others to join the cause, fostering a global community of ocean conservationists.
Debarati "Doll" Sengupta
Debarati "Doll" Sengupta
Debarati Sengupta (she/her) is a 23 years old young ocean leader from India who is very passionate about ocean literacy and marine life. She has recently completed her Masters in Marine Science from University of Calcutta and her research works are focused on Indian Sundarbans. She is presently one of the ocean literacy focal points of Asia (IOC-UNESCO) and former intern of UN Ocean Decade endorsed Early Career Ocean Professionals programme. She conducts both in-person and online education and outreach events to educate young minds (mostly 13 to 21 years old) about climate change and UN Ocean Decade challenges. She is the outreach coordinator of a research organization ‘Estuarine and Coastal Studies Foundation (ECSF)’,India, where she has a vast experience in volunteering for mangrove conservation and community engagement based projects.
Debarati believes she shares profound connection with the ocean as her zodiac sign pisces represents water. Hailing from a coastal state of India, West Bengal, she feels captivated by the wonders of the sea. Her story-telling skills help her to communicate ocean science in a digestible format to the wider audience where giving quality education with resource materials can spread the willingness of changing the tides. Her vision is to open a Blue Hub in India to spread ocean awareness and messages beyond the running decade. Youths are the next wave of Ocean Decade. By ensuring combined voices and meaningful communication, we all can make a real difference as she believes a quote by Baba Dioum, “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught”.
Emma Batty Sukerta
Emma Batty Sukerta
Emma Batty Sukerta is a 19 year old Canadian-Indonesian ocean advocate. Emma has spoken in over 50 speaking engagements, a majority surrounding the topics of climate change, plastic pollution, and youth empowerment, including a Tedx Talk about “Alleviating Poverty as a Solution towards Sustainability.” She was the previous leader of Bye Bye Plastic Bag Jakarta, leading 19 school clubs towards raising awareness about reducing plastic waste. She was the Community Builder of YOUTHTOPIA, managing a community of over 200 changemakers, creating learning programs that encourage young people to learn from other young changemakers to make a difference. Today, she has been part of YOUTHTOPIA Circle of Youth.
Emma first started diving when she won the #WhyCoExist video competition and won a trip to visit the marine protected island of D’Arros in the Seychelles. She was able to interact and learn from the Save our Sea’s marine research team. She then went on to receive a scholarship by Blue Corner Dive to receive her divemaster certification, and join their research team. She recently participated in an externship with National Geographic and The Nature Conservancy, and received Seed Funding to begin her project in acoustic restoration. She will be working with Blue Corner Conservation to study how acoustics can be used to assess marine environments and be used to improve coral restoration methods.
Gurgen Petrosyan (he/him), a 21-year-old Armenian-Italian, is a dedicated advocate for human rights and environmental issues. He is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in International Law with a specialization in Human Rights. His journey towards becoming a prominent figure in the fields of youth work, community engagement, and environmental activism began at the young age of 14.
Gurgen's passion for working with young people and engaging with communities led him down a remarkable path of self-discovery and activism. He started his journey as a volunteer, dedicating his time and energy to various youth-oriented projects. Over the years, his commitment and dedication shone through, propelling him into roles as a trainer and mentor for his peers. He continues to inspire and empower the younger generation to this day.
Not content with just volunteering, Gurgen Petrosyan's commitment to youth work soon saw him working for organizations dedicated to nurturing the potential of young people. His extensive experience in this field paved the way for him to become a valuable resource for youth seeking guidance and opportunities.
One of Gurgen's most notable achievements is his consecutive two-year tenure as a European Climate Pact Ambassador and Digital Citizen Ambassador. In these roles, he tirelessly advocates for climate change awareness, climate justice, and the protection of our oceans. He firmly believes in the power of collective action to combat the pressing global issues of our time.
His dedication to human rights extends beyond borders as he actively fights for LGBTQ+ rights, believing in equal rights and opportunities for all. Gurgen Petrosyan has collaborated with numerous non-profit organizations focused on environmental issues, including Generation Climate Europe and Youth and Environment Europe. His tireless efforts have contributed significantly to raising awareness and driving positive change in environmental conservation.
In addition to his advocacy work, Gurgen wears multiple hats in the international arena. He serves as the Secretary-General at AIESEC International, an organization that aims to provide young people with transformative leadership experiences. Furthermore, his role as the International Officer at the European Student Think Tank demonstrates his commitment to nurturing the intellectual growth of young minds.
One creative and forward-thinking step Gurgen Petrosyan took was joining The World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council. In this capacity, he brings his passion for ocean protection and environmental sustainability to a global platform, working alongside like-minded individuals to create impactful initiatives for a healthier planet. This commitment showcases his innovative and collaborative approach to addressing environmental challenges.
In summary, Gurgen Petrosyan has a boundless passion for human rights, environmental activism, and youth engagement. His journey from a volunteer to a prominent advocate and leader in various organizations is a testament to his unwavering dedication and commitment to creating a better world. With a heart for change and a mind for innovation, Gurgen continues to inspire and lead the way towards a brighter future for all.
The Netherlands, 19
The Netherlands, 19
Kjeld Werther (he/him) is a 19 year-old upcoming marine biologist, with a great interest in the ocean, animal rights and climate justice. The playful exploration of the living world around him when he was little, partly shifted into concern when he found out that the world he was loving so much, was in danger. Fueled by the thought that every animal has the right to live, he worked at multiple environmental organisations during secondary school. At his final year, he even got the opportunity to study the impact of plastic litter on the life around the canals at the University of Leiden. Those primary years of action made him realise that when you really want to make a change, you not only have to study the solutions, but also should work out those solutions yourself in the real world as well. For him, it’s all about the combination of study and implementation.
Kjeld is studying biology at the University of Utrecht, with in-depth courses on marine sciences, ecology and behavior. His dream is to become a protector of the animals and communities that live near the oceans. Every day, he follows his ground rule of study and implementation to come a bit closer to that goal. Study consists of researching ocean materials at the lab, diving in one of the Dutch lakes and learning more about the blue world as an Eurocean’s Youth Ambassador. He gained experience by leading a team on biodiversity and food systems at the Dutch National Youth Council, by inspiring others through an interview with Unicef on climate change and by working at the ‘Nieuwkoopse Plassen’, a nature reserve near his hometown. Currently, Kjeld is fighting for climate justice through the International Court of Justice as a Partnerships Lead at the Dutch department of World’s Youth for Climate Justice. When Kjeld is asked how you can make a difference, he always advises to green up your life step by step. ‘The climate and biodiversity crisis is such a big and complicated problem. When beginning small and using your own talents, making a change comes in a natural way.
Leena Joshi is a social entrepreneur, climate advocate and author. She’s the founder and executive director of Ethereal, a youth-led nonprofit, with 9000 volunteers in 40+ countries. She has sat on boards and advisory councils for several organisations. She has been a member at Harvard Business Review Ascend Select and has provided insights to editorial, marketing and product teams of HBR and has contributed to research projects by HBR Ascend.
Leena’s work has been featured by World Bank Group, Girl Up, United Nations Foundation, International Universities Climate Alliance, Climate Reality Project, Her Campus Media and Next Generation Fellows. She was previously a Member at Global Leadership Challenge at Oxford University. She has been an Ambassador for organisations including World Bank Group, GreenPeace USA, 4ocean, Beni and the Climate Initiative.
Leena is a prolific public speaker who has spoken at events across the world including Conferences of Youth, RCOY, Girl Up Global Leadership Summit, GatherVerse Summit, YOUNGO at UNFCCC and even at the High Commission of Canada. She has authored books including ‘The Climate Awakening’ and ‘Ethereal’ and writes poetry about social impact.
Louisa Hoy (she/her) is a 21-year-old student in her final year of an Integrated Master’s degree in Marine Biology at the University of Southampton. Her ambition is to forge a career in corporate sustainability and Environmental Social Governance (ESG), with a commitment to reducing society’s carbon footprint and environmental impact. Armed with experience in data analysis and sustainability consultancy, Louisa aims to leverage her background in marine biology to address real-world challenges, such as developing sustainable business strategies and advising large-scale corporations on biodiversity and environmental conservation.
Louisa has first-hand experience working with live marine animals, having dedicated significant time volunteering at her university’s research aquarium. In this role, she was responsible for not only maintaining the aquarium but also extracting and settling larvae from live jellyfish, while meticulously monitoring their growth and development. These jellyfish later played a crucial role in master’s experiments, assessing the effects of microplastics and salinity on jellyfish survival. This experience has cultivated Louisa’s unique perspective on the impact of climate change, igniting her passion for conservation.
Beyond her academic pursuits, Louisa has contributed to the efforts of environmental charities such as the Marine Conservation Society and Sea Life. Her involvement included working on social media campaigns and collecting and analysing data to support these organisation’s missions. Furthermore, Louisa’s passion for marine life extends to her scuba diving endeavours, which she has pursued since the age of 12. Recently, she completed her Advanced Open Water qualification during a semester abroad in San Diego, California, allowing her to immerse herself in a new culture, develop global connections, and indulge in thrilling experiences like night diving with sharks and snorkelling with seals.
In 2016, Louisa established a blog, www.sea-nery.co.uk, where she shares insightful content related to marine biology and environmental matters. Her goal is to educate, raise awareness, and continually challenge and educate herself on important issues.
In addition to her academic and environmental interests, Louisa is an enthusiast of art, music, skiing, and netball, which allow her to strike a balance between her studies, creative endeavours, and sports. She is excited about bringing her creativity into her role on the council, emphasising the importance of innovative visuals in conveying information and advocating causes.
As the representative for England, Louisa looks forward to bringing a fresh perspective to the council, utilising her scientific expertise and corporate experience to foster collaboration between stakeholders and enhancing engagement with World Ocean Day initiatives.
Malika (she/her) is a high school senior and a creative climate activist based in the largest landlocked country in the world, Kazakhstan. She is very passionate about ocean conservation and uses her creativity and research skills to advocate for the environment.
Malika has unwavering hope in youth-led climate initiatives and firmly believes that amplifying young people’s voices, especially underrepresented ones, is extremely important. She is the founder of a fully student-led volunteer organization SeeAralSea, dedicated to increasing the environmental visibility of Central Asia, the region she’s from. Within SeeAralSea, Malika connects youth from Central Asia who write articles for the Read&SeeAralSea online magazine and create educational posts about their countries. Truly, one of Malika’s primary goals within her advocacy is to represent her country and region, which often lack media recognition, by raising awareness about their important ecological challenges. She is extremely excited to continue doing that with World Ocean Day!
Malika named her organization to honor the disappearing Aral Sea in Kazakhstan – once the fourth-largest lake in the world, whose waters were derived by the authorities for cotton irrigation in the 1960s. It was sacrificed for fast fashion and economic development and shrank almost fully, which led to severe environmental degradation.
To prevent such tragedies, the young advocate aims to learn and implement sustainable management practices by working in conservation-minded non-profits. While being a part of the environmental Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs’ Future Blue Youth Council, Malika learned the value of collaborative advocacy in eco-conscious management and intends to use the gained knowledge in her future studies. At university, she wants to pursue Environmental Science and Sustainable management to bring her work to a larger scale.
Moreover, Malika actively shares such valuable experiences with her community – she has an environmental club GenGreen at school with the help of which, she created a nationwide webinar series about eco-project creation, called “Eco-enterprise”. She invited 12 international eco-project starters to share their stories in 40–60-minute Zoom sessions and three of them were from the Future Blue Youth Council. Malika wanted to inspire Kazakhstani youth to start their own sustainable initiatives.
Thanks to Bow Seat, she also realized the significance of creative activism and storytelling in achieving a green future. She wrote blogs and made videos on various climate-related topics, impacting numerous people of all ages. She hopes to incorporate her passion for video making in other projects, including World Ocean Day, as she believes that art is a tool that can transcend any barriers.
As a World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council Member, Malika is willing to expand her climate activism globally by creating even more effective projects. She looks forward to meeting ambitious advocates who are not willing to abide by the status quo and strives to broaden the horizons of her advocacy.
Maria Jose Rodriguez Palomeque
Maria Jose Rodriguez Palomeque
Maria Jose (she/her) is an eighteen-year-old activist born in southern Mexico. She has been working on human rights, climate justice and gender activism for several years. In her work, she focuses on the importance of intersectionality in social movements.
Her passion for advocating for a healthier environment and ocean is connected to her life story as a climate-displaced person. Therefore, one of her biggest dreams is to create opportunities for youth involvement in ocean conservation and protection.
She is currently serving as a Youth Advisor for the UN Foundation's initiative "Girl Up" in Mexico, where she focuses on developing an environmental agenda with a gender perspective. Recently, she joined the Education Steering Committee of the World Food Forum, a youth-led global platform facilitated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Passionate about promoting a feminist perspective in the environmental movement, Maria Jose joined the EmpoderaClima platform as Advocacy Lead. In addition, she is a member of Amnesty International and YOUNGO (the official children and youth constituency of the UNFCCC). She also serves as a Young Champion for the UN Refugee Agency.
For her work, Maria Jose was named Young Leader 2023 by The World of Women Foundation. Most recently, she founded EducateHer, a regional education platform with a gender perspective dedicated to promoting girls' and women's leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Based on her extensive experience in the fields of environment and human rights, she was elected to be part of the Mexican Delegation at the UN Climate Change Conference 2023 (COP28) as a Civil Society Representative.
At the moment, she is a first-year student of the Bachelor's Program in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.
Meng "Hayley" Xu
Meng "Hayley" Xu
Meng Xu (she/her) is a sophomore at King's College London, studying International Relations. She believes that marine conservation is an issue that as global as the world and as personal as each individual. Growing up on the coast of Qingdao, a seaside city in northern China, she has witnessed the sea surface covered with hutai (blue-green algae) and the rubbish tourists carelessly discard. In advocating the popularization of marine knowledge, she hopes to increase public awareness of marine conservation and bring attention to plastic waste's negative impact on the ocean.
In 2016 when she was 12, she joined a student volunteer group that visited almost all the rivers in her home city of Qingdao to report illegal sewage outlets and picked up rubbish from the rivers for over five years. And when she was in high school. She worked on the China Thinks Big competition and successfully produced a text-based interactive game to help primary students learn marine knowledge and entered the National Competition.
During the summer of her freshman year, she found her place in the Blue Ribbon Ocean Conservation Association (BROCA) as an intern. In BROCA, she gave lectures on cetacean science to children in mountainous areas of China, focusing on the current situation of the East Asian finless porpoise. She also acquired skills in first aid for stranded cetaceans and participated in many of the association's cetacean rescue drills. In addition, she used her excellent writing skills to write many fascinating and academic articles for the association's daily marine science popularisation work. She even created a section on interesting and sustainable traditional fishing methods and wrote four articles on the subject. She also wrote three articles on the topic of marine plastic pollution to help the public understand the damage plastic waste is doing to our ocean.
As a member of The World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, she hopes to draw more people's attention to the issue of marine conservation, to learn about it, and to get involved in protecting it.
Rajaa Berry (she/her)is a third-year business student at the University of Windsor, specializing in finance. Within the university, Rajaa is part of the Outstanding Scholars program and serves as a student researcher. Her academic journey has been marked by exceptional dedication and a strong commitment to making a positive impact. Rajaa participated in the Youngo Climate Finance Reporting Academy, where she honed her skills and knowledge in the intricate intersection of climate and finance.
Beyond her academic pursuits, Rajaa is actively involved in various initiatives that reflect her deep commitment to social and environmental causes. She is a valued member of Amnesty International's National Youth Action and Advisory Committee, she has played a significant role in advocating for human rights and actively participated in campaigns centred around climate justice. Driven by her commitment to environmental sustainability, Rajaa founded the University of Windsor Environmental Policy Association.
Through this association, she has been able to rally like-minded individuals, raise awareness about pressing environmental issues, and drive positive change on campus. As an Ocean Bridge Ambassador, Rajaa played a vital role in raising awareness about ocean conservation. Today, she continues her environmental journey as an Eco Action Accelerator Grantee, actively working on a project focused on marine protected areas and green financing—a testament to her unwavering commitment to sustainability.
In addition to her environmental advocacy, Rajaa is a vital member of the OCIC Youth Policy Makers Hub, where she collaborates with like-minded individuals to influence policy changes for the betterment of society. She also serves as a UofMosaic Fellow at the Mosaic Institute, contributing to efforts that promote diversity, inclusion, and conflict resolution. Rajaa's recent completion of an externship as a ResilienSEA Extern at EarthEcho allowed her to explore the sustainable blue economy and regenerative aquaculture, further enhancing her understanding of environmental resilience and sustainability.
Looking ahead, Rajaa is excited to embark on her role as a member of the 2023-2024 World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council. She is committed to fulfilling her vision of a more sustainable and just world where social and environmental issues are interconnected, embodying a blend of passion and wholehearted dedication in her advocacy!
Rita Quelha (she/her), a 20-year-old Portuguese student in Aquatic Sciences at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Porto, is a passionate advocate for the environment and scientific outreach. Proudly representing Portugal on the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, she is committed to making a positive impact on the world through her dedication to science and environmental awareness.
With unwavering determination, Rita pursued her dream of becoming a scientist in the field of Aquatic Sciences. Her commitment to preserving the oceans and marine environment has been a constant on her journey, dating back to when she became a firefighter at the age of 17 to protect forests.
Beyond her academic pursuits, Rita is actively engaged in environmental awareness activities. She believes that education is a powerful tool for inspiring positive change and, therefore, dedicates herself to sharing knowledge with the general public. She participates in organizing scientific events, such as conferences and science cafes, where she strives to make science accessible and understandable to all, regardless of their academic background.
Her primary research focus is polar science, specifically the study of Arctic ice melting. Rita is acutely aware of the challenges the Arctic faces due to climate change and the critical importance of this ecosystem to our planet. She is dedicated to advancing our understanding of these issues and seeking solutions to mitigate negative impacts.
One of Rita Quelha's major goals is to dispel common misconceptions about science, global changes, ecology, and other environmental topics. She believes that spreading accurate information and promoting critical thinking are fundamental to addressing the environmental challenges our world faces.
Rita Quelha demonstrates that a passion for science and the environment can lead to significant impacts. With her unwavering commitment, she tirelessly works to create a more conscious and sustainable world, where science is an accessible tool and information is the key to change.
South Africa, 22
South Africa, 22
Sabriyah Madhi (she/her) is a 22-year-old socio-environmental activist from South Africa. Sabriyah has always been immensely passionate about the environment from a young age. She spent most of her childhood in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, where she often visited the ocean. The ocean was a mesmerising place of joy, beauty and comfort for her. She would often spend hours watching the ocean, and this was when her love for the ocean first began.
Her deep love for the ocean was strengthened and progressed into ocean advocacy efforts due to storytelling. Sabriyah watched the play Lalela uLwandle (“Listen to the sea”), which was a story about how people from all different walks of life had a deep connection, love and story related to the ocean. The play also showed how pivotal the ocean is to people’s lives and the future sustainability of humankind. After that play, she realised that she, too, had this unique connection and love for the ocean, and she became inspired to join efforts to ensure that this connection and love for the ocean could still exist for future generations.
As such, Sabriyah joined Youth for Marine Protected Areas (Youth4MPA), where she is the current Vice-spokesperson and project coordinator. Youth4MPA’s is an organisation which advocates for the protection of our oceans and the expansion of marine protected areas to protect ocean biodiversity. She believes that protecting our oceans and the species that inhabit our oceans is of the utmost importance. She has also been part of other environmental organisations and initiatives in South Africa and internationally.
Sabriyah, due to her love for biology and science, completed her BSc (Biological Science and Cellular Biology) undergraduate degree and BSc(Biological Science) honours degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her honours research project focussed on using plant biotechnology methods to address food security challenges in South Africa by improving the propagation methods of selected vegetables, especially vegetables with high levels of vitamins and minerals that the African population is known to be deficient in.
Sabriyah believes that all it takes is one committed and caring individual to inspire others to do the same. As such, her vision is to inspire others to make small differences in whatever way so that the ocean can remain blue and beautiful. She hopes that by being a member of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, she can work with young leaders worldwide to progress the fight to save our oceans while empowering and capacitating youth in South Africa to do the same.
Sophia Skarparis (she/her), also known as PlasticFreeSophia, is a youth change-maker driven by a passionate commitment to combat plastic pollution. Growing up amidst the natural beauty of Australia, Sophia's childhood was intertwined with beachside adventures and moments on the football field. Her profound love for water and unwavering determination on the football pitch shaped her early years.
At the age of 14, Sophia undertook an extraordinary mission. She mobilised and collected over 12,000 handwritten signatures, advocating for the ban of single-use and heavy retail plastic bags in New South Wales, Australia. She presented the petition to the NSW Premier and it was tabled in Parliament in October 2018. This pivotal moment revealed the negligence of certain leaders toward their responsibility to safeguard the planet and future generations. From this disappointment, Sophia's relentless pursuit of change was ignited.
She enacted change through grassroots activism, the empowerment of youth, engagement with parliamentary representatives, dialogues with businesses, and, this all leading to the successful implementation of legislation against plastic pollution in NSW. Sophia's efforts have led her to collaborate closely with organisations such as Surfrider Australia, Australian Geographic, Clean Up Australia, and Take 3 for the Sea, where she has been instrumental in providing educational workshops. Her notable impact in raising awareness about plastic pollution earned her recognition at the Australian Geographic Society Gala Awards ceremony in 2018, with commendation from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Sophia's vision for a plastic-free future extends beyond her advocacy work. She has committed herself to integrating eco-conscious practices into her daily life, initiating change at the grassroots level within her school and sporting communities. Her role in mobilizing youth for action during the School Strike for Climate in 2019, which saw over 350,000 participants nationwide. Through her actions, Sophia firmly believes that education is the catalyst for change. As well as the importance of fostering a profound connection between people and nature, a connection that ultimately drives transformative action.
Time is of the essence, and she believes that together, we possess the power to reshape the future for the better.
Trevon "Tre" Callender
Trevon "Tre" Callender
Trevon (he/him) is an ambitious 23-year-old pursuing a BSc. in Sociology and Political Science at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus. His passion for these fields is evident in his work and his ultimate goals, which revolve around creating a clean and protected blue-green planet and promoting sustainable development, particularly in vulnerable frontline nations like Barbados that are highly susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change.
Trevon firmly believes that his academic pursuits at Cave Hill, combined with his strong environmental consciousness, equip him to be an effective young leader capable of making sustainable decisions. He recognizes the multidisciplinary and holistic nature of the challenges we face and aims to champion for these causes.
Over the past two years, Trevon has cultivated a deep interest in climate change, particularly its impacts on Barbados. This led him to actively participate in various climate action programs that aim to educate and sensitize young leaders on climate injustices, climate science, and policy influence. His recent participation in the Caribbean Climate Justice Leaders Academy by Island Innovation exemplifies the program's commitment to fostering innovation and amplifying the voices of young leaders from the Caribbean, enabling them to actively contribute to international discussions such as the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28).
Trevon believes that education and capacity building are essential components of encouraging collective action. However, engaging in on-the-ground initiatives helps identify and bring attention to pressing issues that require intervention. He recognizes that these approaches, if separated, can not be enough to make a significant impact.
While snorkeling in Martinique and witnessing the vibrant coral reefs and abundant biodiversity, Trevon was deeply troubled upon returning to snorkel in his home of Barbados. He discovered the alarming amount of plastic pollution settling on the sea bed, where hawksbill and green juvenile sea turtles graze in the Carlisle Bay Marine Park. Witnessing sea turtles nibbling at plastic encouraged him to take further action. Thus, he developed a habit of periodically snorkeling to collect waste between the shore and the shipwrecks, which are home to several coral reefs.
Additionally, he volunteers with the University of the West Indies' Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP), interacting with hatchlings and nesting turtles. This hands-on experience has fueled his determination to protect endangered species and advocate for robust legislation that safeguards their habitat.
It is through these experiences that Trevon has been inspired to join The World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council. Through his participation, he seeks to expand his impact in climate advocacy and action, particularly concerning ocean conservation. By influencing policy and shedding light on the underfunded Barbados Sea Turtle Project, Trevon hopes to create a more eco-friendly environment for sea turtles and make a lasting difference.
As a member of The World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, Trevon's aspiration is to contribute to the well-being and sustainability of the ocean by becoming a powerful advocate in Barbados. He understands the importance of maintaining a holistic approach that considers the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of marine conservation, prioritizing the long-term well-being of both the oceans and the communities that depend on them.
United States, 16
United States, 16
Vivian Deng (she/her) is a 16-year-old climate advocate based in San Francisco, California in the United States. Having been born and raised in an ethnically and culturally rich community like San Francisco, she’s always exploring the city’s landscape in its social and environmental context. She seeks to learn more about the history, policies, climate, and even the disparities within local communities, for the community in which she grew up witnessed the disparate force of environmental injustice, thus catalyzing her fervent passion for climate activism.
Vivian’s inquisitive search for ways to gauge her passion for the environment landed her in the youth-led organization Bay Area Youth Climate Summit (BAYCS) as a Workshops and Outreach member in 2021. Since then, she’s helped BAYCS engage over 3000+ youth across the Bay Area through such initiatives as presenting at youth leadership events, hosting booths at STEM festivals, and spearheading workshops, most notably the Hair Mat workshop she organized in March 2023 in collaboration with Matter Of Trust which got featured in a Department of State documentary.
Her local impact extends to the education sector with her position as a Student Representative and Environmental Committee Member on the SFUSD Student Advisory Council (SAC). Throughout her time with the SAC, she’s advocated for environmental inequities to be prioritized in education policy processes, addressed the concerns of her school and district community, and promoted efforts to eliminate the ubiquity of plastic in school lunch packages.
Vivian additionally interned for the Office of San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey for which she wrote multiple pieces of climate-linked legislation and papers as well as resolved constituent concerns regarding air quality and encampments.
Vivian’s climate journey entered the global stage when she founded Green With Haiti in 2023, an international youth-led organization dedicated to amplifying and bolstering Haitian communities at the epicenter of humanitarian crises in the name of advancing cross-cultural connection and global humanitarian work.
Thus far, she’s amassed youth from 4 different time zones and regions around the world to address and inform the greater community of the destitute forces facing Haiti through delivering educational projects, donating essential services, and forging partnerships with local, national, and global organizations. Furthermore, she recently got accepted to serve in the U.S. Youth Advisory Council for the UN Ocean Decade in which she will be collaborating with youth across the U.S. to implement environmentally-conscious solutions that’ll protect and preserve the health of our planet and ocean.
Vivian’s connection with the planet underscores the value of the key youth hold in opening a future where the people and planet don't thrive at the expense of another. She hopes to be a compass for youth in her community and beyond as they discover how they belong in the global climate space. Her story, narrative, and overall love for shores and lands have ultimately shaped her longing aspiration to pursue a career in diplomacy or international climate law, turning today’s ideas into the future’s reality.
William "Will" Charouhis
United States, 17
William "Will" Charouhis
United States, 17
Will Charouhis (he/him) is a 17-year-old environmental changemaker. Growing up in Miami, Florida, Will spends his free time outdoors, enjoying rowing crew, fishing, and freediving the reefs off America’s Southern coast.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma flooded Will’s city, upending the life he knew. When the storm waters receded, he founded We are Forces of Nature with the goal to protect coastal communities like his own from the perils of climate change.
Will started out advocating for world leaders to enact policies to halt global warming. An unexpected advocate with a quiet but determined voice, Will has submitted testimony to America’s White House Environmental Justice Council on his generation’s right to a healthy environment, and was widely published for his work in having Miami declare a climate emergency.
Feeling the urgency of the accelerating climate crisis, Will joined forces with other young advocates. He serves as a National Youth Leader in Dr. Jane Goodall’s Institute, the FXB Climate Champion, and the youth delegate for National Wildlife Federation and America is All In.
A firm believer that it is going to take all of society to halt the climate crisis, Will now leads the youngest delegation accredited by the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A frequent speaker on the strength of youth and the power of hope, Will has shared the GenZ perspective as the youngest American at United Nations conferences in Madrid, Glasgow, Stockholm, Bonn, Lisbon, and New York.
A published author on the climate emergency, Will publishes a blog on youth facing the climate emergency, and is a contributing author to The Invading Sea. While Will is relentless in his verbal and written advocacy, his focus is on hands-on action. He has spearheaded disaster relief to 1100 families in Honduras, Haiti, and the Bahamas, countries Will says “are least responsible for carbon emissions but most affected by climate change.”
As a Director of the Miami Youth Climate Leadership Board, he works alongside other youth leaders to provide climate education to more than 2500 students in 16 countries.
Having experienced climate change firsthand, Will remains acutely aware that the climate crisis is not going to wait for his generation to grow up. A firm believer that “innovation, scale, and the human spirit can provide the solutions,” Will is pioneering funded research on the artificial selection of mangroves to withstand ocean acidification and warming at the A Million Mangroves Lab at Miami’s Aquarium Educational Center. Scaling up his A Million Mangroves Initiative, Will has already drawn in partners in Australia, Gabon, the Dominican Republic, and Fiji, sharing his mangrove research in the hopes of increasing restoration efforts in other coastal communities around the world.
In recognition of his tireless efforts in service to his community, Will was awarded the Congressional Award Gold Medal with STEM recognition, the highest honor the United States Congress bestows upon youth civilians. He also received the Barron Environmental Prize for his mangrove conservation work and was recognized as a Young Social Impact Hero. His work is currently being featured in mini-documentaries in production by Inspiring Young Heros and Blue Missions.
While he is honored by the awards, Will’s focus remains acutely forward and solution-based. He is already showing up-every day-leading his peers, and even the adults in our community, in creating a sustainable world.
Zahra Basil (she/her) is a 19-year-old History and Literature student from Lahore, Pakistan. She began her activist journey at the start of the pandemic when she joined the Re-Earth Initiative (REI)- a global youth-led climate organisation that fosters regeneration and empowers communities to champion collaborative climate solutions. Since then she has fully immersed herself in the world of climate activism, working with various organisations on an array of projects to further the climate movement. Belonging to a country extremely vulnerable to the impacts of Climate Change with little resources available to dedicate to mitigation strategies, Zahra is a strong advocate for climate reparations for the Global South. She also has a powerful belief in the importance of uplifting youth voices in this crisis and ensuring that youth members are part of, if not leading, all decision-making.
Over the past few years, Zahra has worked on several projects, primarily focusing on trying to make the climate movement more inclusive and accessible for all. This has ranged from trying to increase the availability of climate information by creating academic resources like syllabi or toolkits for underprivileged schools to working with REI to finance grass-roots restoration projects from around the world. As someone who believes that it is extremely important for diverse perspectives from people across the world, particularly MAPA youth, to be considered when deciding the course of action, with REI Zahra used art and letter writing to bring such voices to COP27. She is also an advisory board member at Project 19, working to educate people on crucial climate events and jargon. Locally, she has frequently organised plantations, and clean ups, and has worked on the development of infrastructure for sustainable solid waste management too. Beyond climate activism, Zahra is passionate about graphic design, law and policy-making, as well as eradicating period poverty.
- Adeyemi “Yemi” Akanbi, Nigeria
- Ajay Sawant, India
- Akhilesh Anilkumar, India
- Anika Shethia, United States
- Anya-Marie Hilaire, Saint Lucia
- Arwen Revere, United States
- Bodhi Patil, Canada
- Caitlin Turner, Scotland
- Chaofan “Frank” Chen, China
- Doreen Kaijage, Tanzania
- Favour Ayedun, Nigeria
- Fotios Kotzakioulafis, Greece
- Grace Westgarth, England
- Jasmine Rodman, Canada
- Lotta Baalerud, Norway
- Manar Elkebir, Tunisia
- María Paz Dakota Ormeño Vasquez, Peru
- Matsobane Malebatja, South Africa
- Mohamed Ali “Dali” Raddaoui, Tunisia
- Myah Iyanla Greene, The Bahamas
- Rada Pandeva, Bulgaria
- Sena Chang, Japan
- Stephanie Hung, Hong Kong
- Tanya “Anya” Francesca Granados, Philippines
- Tom Ogalo, Kenya
- Ying Rui Neoh, Malaysia
- Adam Zhou, Philippines
- Arya Yurdacan, Turkey
- Belinda Tian-Wing Ng, Hong Kong
- Ee Jenn Lee, Malaysia
- Estefania Aphang, Peru
- Jade Cave, South Africa
- Jose Marie Eslopor, Philippines
- Kal Glanzig, Australia
- Laura Maisvoreva, Zimbabwe
- Lela DeVine, USA
- Marina Castello Rigo, Spain
- Matai Zamuel, Suriname
- Mhairi McCann, Scotland
- Muskan Lamba, India
- Nathany Roberta Herrera Aguiar, Brazil
- Paul Eweola Ayomide, Nigeria
- Prashant Mohesh, Mauritius
- Ruth Edma Mwizeere, Uganda
- Sam Fricker, Australia
- Shanjeevan Amalanathan, Sri Lanka
- Siobhan O’Connor, New Zealand
- Sruthi Gurudev, USA
- Syeda Areesha Fatima, Pakistan
- William Joseph Wilkins, Wales
- Yutong Yang, China
- Andrea Quintero Pérez, Mexico
- Ariana Wanvig-Dot, Switzerland
- Darcie Anderson, Scotland
- David Ludeke, United States
- Eimear Stephenson, Ireland
- Gabrielle Martineau, Canada
- Joana Da Rosa, Portugal
- Lydia Rysavy, Sweden
- Maha Fier, New Zealand
- Natalie Ashkar, Lebanon
- Ngolle Kingsman, Cameroon
- Nicola Tsiolis, Australia
- Toluwanimi Olubanke, Nigeria
2019 - 2020
- Aldrin Aujero, Philippines
- Isabelle Grace, Switzerland
- Laura Park, England
- Mae Paula Ross Clareza, Philippines
- Nicolas Chesta, Chile
- Olivia Livingstone, Liberia
- Portsea Turton, Australia
- Rebecca Loy, Singapore
- Shantana Barbe, Seychelles
- Sophie Handford, New Zealand
- Summer Snell, England
- Unelker Maoga, Kenya
- Yusuf Kavuma, Uganda
- Anna Zaske, Denmark
- Anushka Bhaskar, United States
- Cade Terada, United States
- Gabrielle Tan, Malaysia
- Ibrahi Rodriguez, Ecuador
- Kehkashan Basu, Canada
- Olivia Taylor, South Africa
- Patricia Zanella, Brazil
- Rufai Balogun, Nigeria
- Sofia El-Rass, Denmark
- Wenqin Zhang, China
2016 - 2018
- Baylee Ritter, USA
- Brandon Koots, Curacao
- Caitlin Philipps, Australia
- Eugenia Barroca, Portugal
- Gabriella Schauber, Canada
- La Tisha Parkinson, Trinidad & Tobago
- Melati Wijsen, Indonesia
- Mohammed Wahabi, Morocco
- Nehara Pandey, India
- Oghenechovwen Christopher Oghenekevwe, Nigeria
- Sang-Jin Kim, Germany