In 2020, to celebrate the Desertification and Drought Day we launched the #UNCCDLandHeroes campaign on social media, in order to promote sustainable land conservation initiatives from around the world.
The campaign reached millions of people worldwide and shed light on many incredible projects led by those who fight climate change through land conservation and restoration. Here are some of the Land Heroes we celebrate for their dedication, innovation and the impact of their projects.
Ciencia Mágica (Alondra Cardiel and Silvia Valdez ) – Mexico
Alondra Cardiel, a young scientist from Monterrey and Silvia Valdez who co-founded Ciencia Mágica created a Family Garden Friendly Kit to inspire people to grow their own food and reconnect with nature. Cardiel also hosts live discussions where she shares tips to reuse food waste by making products such as deodorant and all-purpose cleaner. Through their Ecobiores start-up, they are also working on a new generation of degradable biomaterials, which they hope will help curb the use of single-use plastics and repurpose organic waste to produce garden containers and repellent capsules.
Instagram: @alofraustro @ciencia.magica
David Chapoloko – Zambia
This young climate advocate studied agronomy and forestry and runs Art 4 Climate Zambia, a project that cleans up litter, which is then used for art, in particular animal sculptures. He also teaches students how to repair – rather than throw away – broken objects. He has big plans and he next aims to build greenhouses entirely out of litter!
Emma Nomena – Madagascar / The Netherlands
Originally from Madagascar and now a student in The Netherlands, Nomena co-founded Wise With Waste, a social media platform that raises awareness about conscious consumption and sustainable growth. Nomena has a master’s in Chemistry and is now studying for a PhD in 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, she researches the uses of biomaterials (which don’t use petroleum) to create ‘bio-plastic,’ which has antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties.
Ibrahim Musa – Nigeria
A graduate of a geography and environmental management programme in Nigeria, Musa volunteers with several organizations to plant trees and raise awareness on the effects of desertification and ways to address it. He writes a blog and creates cartoons to convey messages about land restoration.
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 the Middle East, India, Brazil, the 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 2021 the “World Literacy Award for Significant Contribution to Literacy by a Youth”
Twitter: @KehkashanBasu / @GreenHopeYouth
Instagram: @kehkashan5basu / @greenhopefoundation
Nature Bodies – India
This team of students from Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, hosts workshops about sustainable agriculture. They want young people and communities to choose environmental-friendly alternatives when creating a garden or buying food. In the past two years, the team has planted more than 1,400 saplings on school grounds and public spaces in local villages. They are now planning to scale up their ‘seed ball initiative’ to create a seed nursery to boost biodiversity by promoting local species.
Maria Wilvenna Añora – Philippines
Añora is the co-founder and the strategy lead of AtoANI, a startup social enterprise, which produces and distributes organically-farmed fresh produce. She also co-founded AtoANI BioPack which produces biodegradable packaging from agro-industrial waste. AtoANI currently supports 20 farmers in the Filipino province of Bohol to reduce post harvest waste and create biodegradable packaging for their product.
Mulindwa Moses – Uganda
Mulindwa is the founder of Believe Youth, which aims to create climate resilient societies and to empower Uganda’s youth. He is also the leader of the “Two trees a week" initiative, which aims to regrow forests to combat deforestation and help stop 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, focusing on communities affected by floods and locusts.
Patricia Kombo – Kenya
Kombo is an undergraduate student in Moi University studying Communication and Journalism. She founded the PaTree Initiative to help Kenya achieve ten per cent forest cover by getting students to plant trees. So far, her initiatives have managed to plant more than 5,000 trees. She visits schools across Kenya, mentoring students in tree planting and establishing environmental clubs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she planted 10,000 saplings in a tree nursery, harvesting indigenous seeds. Working closely with her community, she also set up kitchen gardens and trained locals in sustainable farming and land conservation techniques to improve agricultural practices and help achieve zero hunger, zero poverty and gender equality.
Ricardo Landazuri – Peru
Landazuri is an Environmental Engineer implementing a project that restores degraded soils on the coast of Peru. Ricardo founded EnviroPro, a company that provides green tech solutions to the public and private sectors in Peru. The company develops customized tools that allow farmers to save money and obtain better and sustainable results.
Vanessa Nakate – Uganda
Nakate is one of the most inspiring climate justice activists in the world. The founder of The Rise Up Movement and One Million Activists Stories, her main focus is on the implementation of solar energy systems and clean stoves in schools to reduce the amount of firewood used, and protect the health of students, teachers and cooks. Her projects also provide a learning experience for students, their parents and teachers by illustrating the importance of protecting our planet and why the transition to renewable energy is a vital.
Instagram: @vanessanakate1 / @amillionactiviststories
The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are stealing our future. But they have also opened and exposed us, as young people worldwide, to countless opportunities for digital possibilities and a more sustainable future. But will we really run with these opportunities and transform the world to the future we really want?