UNCCD Land Heroes
To celebrate the 2020 Desertification and Drought Day, UNCCD launched the #UNCCDLandHeroes campaign on social media, encouraging young people to share their inspiring initiatives implemented to limit the footprint we leave on the land by food, feed and fibre production and consumption.
The campaign reached millions of people worldwide and shed light on incredible projects led by young men and women who fight climate change through land conservation and restoration and mobilize communities, schools and families to join the action on the ground.
Here are the Land Heroes distinguished by their their impactful involvement and the ability to unite their peers around land as part of the solution to climate change.
Ciencia Mágica (Alondra Jazmín Fraustro Cardiel and Silvia Alejandra Lara Valdez ) – Mexico
Alondra is a young scientist with a great passion for science, originally from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. She obtained a Degree in Parasitological Bacteriology Chemistry from the Faculty of Biological Sciences (Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon). Alondra co-founded Ciencia Mágica project with Silvia Alejandra Lara Valdez. The project received the Land Heroes Award on 12 August 2020, the International Youth Day.
Ciencia Mágica project focuses on raising awareness on the importance and benefits of sustainable agriculture in communities through environmental education. Alondra and Silvia created a “Family Garden Friendly Kit” to inspire people to grow their own food and reconnect with nature.
Alondra also hosts live discussions to share tricks to reuse food waste and make products such as deodorant, all-purpose cleaner and cat repellants for the garden. Through the start-up ECOBIORES, the young women are also working on a new generation of degradable biomaterials to curb the use of single-use plastics and repurpose organic waste to produce garden containers and repellent capsules.
Nature Bodies – India
This team of students from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh is committed to raising awareness on sustainable agriculture and knowledge of plant properties through workshops on organic farming organic and composting under the hashtag #ExploreGreenTreasure.
They focus on empowering young people and communities to choose environment-friendly alternatives when creating a garden or buying food. In 2019 and 2020, the team also planted more than 1478 saplings on school property and in various public space in nearby villages.
They are now planning to scale up their seed ball initiative to create a seed nursery to boost local biodiversity by promoting local species or varieties and making the initiative affordable and accessible to more people.
Maria Wilvenna Añora – Philippines
Maria has an MBA with a minor in Chemical Engineering. She is the co-founder and the strategy lead of AtoANI (produce-to-demand sustainable agriculture model) and AtoANI BioPack (biodegradable packaging from agro-industrial waste). AtoANI is currently supporting 20 farmers in Bohol (Philippines) and is planning together with World Vision Philippines to expand the initiative to Cebu via the Innovation Challenge. This project is currently being supported by the Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP) under its RISE UP initiative. ISIP is an NGO co-implemented by PhilDev and UNDP Philippines.
AtoANI BioPack project is part of Makesense Academy Incubation Program supported by WWF. They are developing packages made of sugarcane bagasse and aspire to become a significant force in reducing plastic and agricultural waste.
Kehkashan Basu – Canada
At only 20 years old, Kehkashan is already a global influencer, environmentalist, TEDx Speaker, social enterprise innovator and author. In 2012, she founded the Green Hope Foundation to provide a platform for engagement and empowerment of children and youth, especially those representing vulnerable groups, and turn them into changemakers who address the sustainability issues at a local level. Today, the foundation has 2060 members in 16 countries across Middle East, India, Brazil, USA, Canada, Europe and South East Asia. Empowering young people is Kehkashan's passion, and she spends a lot of time personally training and guiding many of them through workshops on mangrove conservation and tree planting. Kehkashan is a tireless civil society advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals and holds leadership positions in several organizations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she continues her advocacy work through webinars and the #WomenImpactingTheWorld series. She is the winner of the 2021 the “World Literacy Award for Significant Contribution to Literacy by a Youth”
David Chapoloko – Zambia
This young climate advocate studied agronomy and forestry and is leading the movement Art 4 Climate Zambia, a project that consists of litter clean-up to use the plastic and other materials for making art. Together with other activists, David collects and sorts litter to make animal sculptures. He also teaches how to repair broken objects instead of throwing them away. Using the same mindset and concept, he plans to build greenhouses out of litter, exploring the structural color theory.
Patricia Kombo – Kenya
Patricia is 24 years and is currently an undergraduate student in Moi University pursing a degree in Communication and Journalism. She founded PaTree Initiative to help Kenya attain ten per cent forest cover by involving school pupils in tree planting and conservation activities. She strongly believes in the importance of raising awareness on the benefits of a sustainable environment and ways to achieve this. She mentioned having planted around 5000 trees and visited eight schools in Kenya, mentoring the younger generation in the benefits of tree planting and establishing environmental clubs.
During the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Patricia set up 10 000 saplings in a tree nursery, harvesting indigenous seeds. Working closely with her community, she also set up kitchen gardens and gave trainings on sustainable farming and land conservation to improve agricultural practices and help achieve zero hunger, zero poverty and gender equality.
Ricardo Landazuri – Peru
Ricardo is an Environment Engineer developing a recovery project of saline and sodic soils on the coast of Peru. He strongly believes that without science, there is no sustainable future. Ricardo has founded EnviroPro, a company that provides green solutions and technology to the public and private sectors in Peru. They develop intelligent and customized tools to allow the farmers to save money and obtain better results with a sustainable mindset.
Mulindwa Moses – Uganda
Our Land Hero Mulindwa Moses from Uganda is the founder of Believe Youth with a vision to create climate resilient societies and to empower the youth in Uganda. He is also the leader of the “Two trees a week" initiatives, aiming to regrow forests to combat deforestation and mudslides exacerbated by changing weather patterns. During the pandemic, he launched the COVID-19 Emergency Food Fund to provide hundreds of families with nutritious food, especially in the communities affected by floods and locusts..
Ibrahim Musa – Nigeria
A recent graduate of a geography and environmental management programme in Nigeria, Ibrahim volunteers with several organizations to plant trees and raise awareness among the youth on the effects of desertification and ways to address it. He writes a blog and draws cartoons to convey messages about land restoration.
Vanessa Nakate – Uganda
Vanessa is the founder of The Rise Up Movement and One Million Activists Stories. Her main project is the implementation of solar energy systems and clean institutional stoves in schools to reduce the amount of firewood used by schools, ensure clean cooking for the students and protect the chefs from the emissions as they prepare food. This project provides a learning experience for students, their parents and teachers by illustrating the importance of protecting our planet and the transition to renewable energy.
Emma Nomena – Madagascar / The Netherlands
Originally from Madagascar, she now studies in the Netherlands. Co-founder of Wise with waste, a social media platform that raises awareness on conscious consumption and sustainable growth, with social justice as a core value. Emma has a master’s in Chemistry and is now candidate for a PhD is Physics. She hopes that one day consumers and businesses will not only consider the economic cost of a product, but also its environmental cost. To reduce plastic use, Emma researches the uses of biomaterials instead of petroleum to create a “bio plastic” with antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties.