Young leaders demand effective climate action

With the climate crisis at the center of global discussions, young people demand urgent measures to combat global warming

Youth, almost always seen as rebellious and immature, has gained notoriety when it comes to socio-environmental issues and the future of humanity. The most current example is that of the young Swedish woman Greta Thunberg, who at just 16 years old, was nominated for the Nobel Prize for her fight against climate change, which began with solitary demonstrations in front of the Swedish Parliament, culminating in the creation of the Fridays for Future movement. On September 20th, millions of young people followed Greta's example and demonstrated around the world for the climate and in favor of preserving the environment. The protest can be considered the largest demonstration in history. Greta is today perhaps the main face of the fight against climate change. But in Brazil, several youth leaders have already emerged and are involved in Conferences of the Parties (COP), project coordination and awareness raising with local groups. 

Guided by the UN's 13th Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), young people recognize the warnings and numbers that highlight the urgency of the issue and demand immediate measures to combat climate change and its impacts. At the opening of the UN Climate Summit in New York, Greta's emotional and strongly worded speech caught the attention of world leaders. “For more than 30 years the science has been very clear. And how dare you not look, come here and say that you are doing enough?” asked the young woman, who accused the leaders of stealing her dreams and her childhood. 

Brazilian Paloma Costa, environmental issues lawyer and one of the coordinators of Engajamundo, also spoke firmly at the opening of the summit: “We will not work with companies that deforest, we will not remain silent. We changed our habits, but you are not following us. The whole world prayed for the forest, but we don't need prayers, we need actions”, said the young woman.

Climate initiatives in Brazil

In Brazil, a country that is fundamental to achieving climate balance on the planet, there is no shortage of young people and initiatives committed to the cause. Virada Sustentável, a collaborative mobilization movement in favor of sustainability and the largest festival on the subject in the country, in its 2019 edition held in São Paulo, featured the panel “Young Leaders for the Climate: looking at the future”, organized by the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS), which brought together representatives from various initiatives with the aim of engaging and mobilizing civil society against global warming.

Amanda Costa, from Engajamundo and from Fridays for Future, Fernanda Tibério, from Youth Climate Leaders, Rebeca Orosco, from CEBDS, Luciano Frontelle, from Plant for the planet, and Andréia Coutinho, from Climate and Society Institute (iCS), are some of the young people directly engaged in the fight. They were the ones who participated in the Virada Sustentável de São Paulo panel, which also included the active participation of the audience present.

At Rio de Janeiro's Virada Sustentável, which will be held on the 18th, 19th and 20th of October, CEBDS will once again organize the panel “Young Leadership for the Climate: looking at the future”, this time inviting other young people and organizations to the debate. Check out the full event schedule here: 



Rebeca Orosco, from CEBDS, is a Technical Assistant in the areas of Climate Change and Sustainable Finance at CEBDS, a master's student in the Energy Planning Program – PPE at Coppe/UFRJ, in the area of Environmental Planning, in which she worked as a researcher in a project to evaluate the impacts of changing diet global climate under different climate scenarios as a contribution to Greenpeace's long-term vision, at the Cenergia Laboratory (Coppe/UFRJ). Graduated in Chemical Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) with an extension in the area of renewable energy engineering from Fachhochschule Köln, in Germany.

“Information is essential for change to occur. It is necessary to have awareness and correct information, because in addition to the fight to disseminate information, we have to fight against misinformation. For companies, climate risk is also an opportunity as it brings business opportunities, and anyone who does not know how to identify this will not be in the future. We, as young people, are concerned about these issues and want to work with responsible companies”, said Rebeca during the panel held at Virada Sustentável in São Paulo.

CEBDS is the first institution in Brazil to talk about sustainability within the concept of Tripple Bottom Line, which guides companies' actions based on three pillars: economic, social and environmental, CEBDS is a reference at the forefront of sustainability for both companies and partners and governments. He is recognized as the main representative of the business sector in leading a revolutionary process of change: transforming the traditional economic model into a new paradigm.


Andréia Coutinho, Communication Coordinator at iCS, has a degree in Social Communication with a qualification in Journalism from PUC-Rio and a master's degree in Ethnic-Racial Relations from CEFET/RJ. Andréia is part of the board of Narrativas, a network of cause communication professionals – which works in civil society organizations, disseminating knowledge and promoting spaces for debate for social transformation. At Instituto Clima e Sociedade, she works as communications coordinator, responsible for intermediating the organization's relationship with the media, event coverage, production and content coordination.

“When we talk about climate, we talk about new voices, new leadership potential. We talk about the future, but the future is now! The climate agenda mixes scenarios, we talk about climate, society, mental health, transport, consumption. It is an agenda that allows us to think about multiple things and makes us understand how it crosses our lives and the lives of more vulnerable people”, reported Andréia at the opening of the Young Leadership for Climate panel.

iCS is a philanthropic organization that promotes prosperity, justice and low-carbon development in Brazil. It works as a bridge between international and national funders and local partners. Thus, it is part of a broad network of philanthropic organizations dedicated to building solutions to the climate crisis. iCS outlines action plans to address climate problems from a social lens. Therefore, it prioritizes measures that, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, also generate improvements in the quality of life for society, especially for the most vulnerable.

Engajamundo and Fridays for Future

Amanda Costa, from Engajamundo and Fridays for Future, is an International Relations student, coordinates the Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (GT SDGs) at the NGO Engajamundo, and is a member of the Global Shapers Community and Youth Climate Leaders (YCL) networks.

“Following the climate agenda for some time, what I always saw was white, straight, cisgender men, dominating the space of speech and supported by a patriarchal, capitalist and white supremacist society. If we want to bring transformation, change, we need diversity, we need inclusion. We have to understand that when it comes to climate change, black, poor, indigenous, quilombola and riverside populations are the most impacted”, highlighted Amanda during the panel.

Engajamundo is a youth leadership organization made for young people, non-profit and with no connection to a party, government or company. They are open to everyone who believes in the importance of youth action in the global sphere. They operate in a network, in centers spread across the country. The Engajamundo network has more than 1,500 young people and 180 volunteers from all five regions of Brazil engaged in work groups and local centers.

Fridays for Future is a popular movement started in August 2018 by 16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg. That late summer, on a Friday, Greta sat in front of the Swedish Parliament alone, carrying a sign that read skolstrejk för klimatet! (school strike for climate), and distributed pamphlets with data on global warming. Here in Brazil, the movement started a little before March 15, 2019, along with the global movement. We mobilized completely spontaneously and online, with people looking for the movement via Instagram. In about 5 days we were already organized in 24 cities. After this first strike, we continued with weekly acts in some cities in Rio de Janeiro, Paraná and, more recently, Rio Grande do Sul.

Youth Climate Leaders

Fernanda Tibério, from Youth Climate Leaders, is a biologist, master and doctor in Ecology and Natural Resources from UFSCar and was a visiting researcher at the University of East Anglia. She was a teacher and manager of socio-environmental projects and is currently a fellow at Youth Climate Leaders, working on the Climate Education agenda.

“We are at a point where we have identified the problem. A big, multisectoral problem that doesn’t belong to one person, it belongs to many. Knowing this, we have to recognize that we don't just have one solution, we will have to think of several solutions for different territories. And for this it is very important to listen to all voices and include them in the conversation”, recalled Fernanda who brought a video recorded by Walter Oliveira, from Coletivo Jovem Tapajônico. 

“We are suffering from a very big problem, which is fires and climate change. Today we no longer know when it is winter or when it is summer, nor how long the seasons will last. This is very worrying, as we no longer have control within our region”, said Walter.

Youth Climate Leaders offers unique pathways to equip young people with the tools they need to engage in the climate economy. This includes immersive learning journeys where participants develop an understanding of climate change in theory and practice through hands-on work on climate solutions. And a Global Network that facilitates connections between climate professionals, experts and young leaders to promote professional development opportunities and climate placements around the world.

Plant for the planet

Luciano Frontelle, from Plant for the planet, Executive Director at Plant-for-the-Planet Brasil, has been following the formulation and implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals since 2012. He was invited and/or selected for conferences on this process in Indonesia, Belgium, Sri Lanka, Peru, United States, France, Morocco and Germany. In 2016, he was featured in the anniversary edition of the magazine Época as one of 30 young people under 30 involved in actions that will change the country, due to the work of Coletivo Clímax Brasil, of which he was co-founder. 

“Today, within the perspective of the climate crisis that we are experiencing and human rights, we are joining efforts and talking to a series of cities to ensure that our climate change education activities with children can become part of municipal policy or of state politics. This way we will be able to operate in as many spaces as possible”, Frontelle also explained during the panel.

Plant-for-the-Planet is a children's initiative that aims to raise awareness among children and adults about the issues of climate change and global justice. It all started with a school performance by 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner, and today Plant-for-the-Planet is a global movement with an ambitious goal: combating the climate crisis by planting trees around the world.


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