#WorldEnvironmentDay: 5 young Indian climate change warriors you need to know about

These inspiring individuals are leading the charge to protect Mother Nature before it’s too late!

Harper's Bazaar India

As humans, we have contributed to the depletion of natural resources in some way or the other, leading to alarming pollution levels. There is a toxic mix of pollution, climate chaos, and biodiversity decimation that has turned healthy lands into deserts, and thriving ecosystems into dead zones (with the situation only worsening). While we cannot reverse time, we can cultivate forests, renew water sources, and revive our soil. We are the generation that can make peace with the earth.

If we were looking for some inspiration, there are heroes amongst us who don't wear capes. Those who have gone above and beyond their line of duty to make a positive change. At an age where they're supposed to be learning about the Earth and the environment in their school books, these environmental champions and climate change warriors, in their teens, have dedicated their lives towards improving our ecosystem—whether it is by planting trees or spreading information that inspires society to make a positive impact on the environment. These steps might seem small, but are important ones in the right direction. 

On this World Environment Day, Bazaar India spotlights on five young Indians who are raising their voices to spread awareness about the environment, within the country and around the world.

Ridhima Pandey 

Referred to by many as India’s Greta Thunberg, 16-year-old Ridhima Pandey from Uttarakhand, has been a vocal activist for the planet from a very young age. Her bio on the Children vs. Climate Crisis website reads, “I want a better future. I want to save my future. I want to save our future. I want to save the future of all the children and all people of future generations”.

When she was nine-years old, Pandey filed a petition against the Indian government at the National Green Tribunal for the lack of initiative against climate change. In 2019, she joined 15 other child activists to urge the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to hold five major economic powers accountable for their inaction on the climate crisis. Expressing her concern about the country’s air pollution problem, Pandey wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphasising the need for immediate action from the government. A role model for children, she is also a popular TEDx speaker and has graced renowned international conferences such as Notre Affaire à Tous in Paris and Xynteo Exchange in Norway. Recognised as one of BBC’s top 100 most influential women in the world for 2020, she relentlessly communicates the rationale for science-led, heartfelt nature conservation to large audiences.

Prasiddhi Singh

Hailing from the Chengalpattu district of Tamil Nadu, 11-year-old social entrepreneur and environmental activist, Prasiddhi Singh always had a close bond with nature. Her motto is, ‘Dream high, higher than the sky. Think deep, deeper than the ocean and act like trees, bees and seas.’

Moved by the devastation that Cyclone Vardah caused in Tamil Nadu in 2016, Singh set on her journey into nature conservation. She started planting trees and launched the Prasiddhi Forest Foundation, aiming to plant 100,000 trees by the end of 2022. Of course, she surpassed her goal, and planted 1,10,000 trees across more than 79 locations in that timeframe. As the child ambassador of the Green Tamil Nadu Mission, a flagship initiative of the Tamil Nadu Government, she has engaged with students in 200 schools. She gave each student a sapling to plant at home and encouraged them to nurture it and understand the growth process.

Eiha Dixit


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Cartoons about nature and a show called Mann Ki Baat, which is focused on the environment, had a positive impact on 11-year-old Eiha Dixit. So much so that, she ended up planting 1,008 and 2,500 saplings on her fifth and sixth birthday, respectively. In 2018, she established the Green Eiha Smile Club, which uses the innovative _matka_ method of planting. It requires minimal irrigation and yields a 20 per cent higher growth rate than conventional practices, resulting in remarkable benefits. She also founded the Eiha Plant Bank, which distributes plants for free. With over 303 weeks of dedicated tree planting every Sunday, she has created 20 mini forests and 25 medicinal gardens across the country.

Dixit's efforts were recognised and she was honoured with the Prime Minister’s National Children’s Award in 2019 and the International Eco Hero Award in 2023. The Uttar Pradesh Housing Development Department provided her with land for plantation. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi affectionately refers to her as his ‘youngest friend’, and acknowledges her extraordinary commitment to environmental conservation.

Licypriya Kangujam

Manipur's Licypriya Kangujam, born in October 2011, is one of the youngest environmental activists in the country. She grabbed the attention of key individuals at the COP28 United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai, when she stepped on the stage with a sign that read: End fossil fuels. Save our planet and our future. 

She also delivered a powerful speech protesting the increasing use of fossil fuels. She started her environmental activism at the age of six, and has been at it ever since. Kangujam also made it into the Guinness World Records by spelling out a sentence with 6,056 plastic bottles. She has been campaigning to pass new laws to reduce India’s high pollution levels and to make climate change literacy mandatory in schools.

Vinisha Umashankar

Vinisha Umashankar, born in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, in 2007, rose to global prominence following her speech at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, where she was invited by Prince William. In her speech, the young innovator stressed the need for people to “stop talking and start doing”, with a particular focus on building a new future with clean air and oceans with zero waste. Umashankar captivated an audience of over 3,000 public figures, which included Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Narendra Modi, Scott Morrison, John Kerry, Michael Bloomberg, and Bill Gates, with her five-minute speech that went viral on social media and received over 30 million views.

Umashankar has already made substantial contributions to both the scientific community and the fight against climate change. At the age of 12, she devised a mobile solar-powered ironing cart, as a clean alternative to the prevalent charcoal-powered street irons in India. This groundbreaking innovation earned her the prestigious Prince William Earthshot Environmental Prize. Umashankar’s ingenuity has garnered widespread acclaim, including the Child’s Climate Prize in 2020, the Earth Day Network's ‘Rising Star’ award, and the Dr. Pradeep P. Thevannoor Innovation Award. She was also the youngest nominee for the Earth Shot Prize, which was launched by Prince William.

Lead image: ridhimapandeyy and prasiddhi.official | Instagram

Also read: Author Margaret Atwood and scientist Jane Goodall on the urgent fight for climate justice

Also read: #WorldEnvironmentDay: Movies that’ll make you care about climate change a little more than you do