MEET THE CLIMATE HEROES

Learn about our Climate Heroes and what they are doing to mitigate climate change.

Illac Diaz, Liter of Light

Illac Diaz, Liter of Light

Manila - Philippines by Maxime Riché

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Born in the Philippines in a wealthy Italian family, no one could have guessed Illac Diaz would one day become a social entrepreneur. But at 44 years old, his NGO Liter of Light has already helped 382,000 Filipinos, and 690,000 people throughout the world, to get out of energy poverty. Thanks to a clever and environmental-friendly lighting concept, made out of recycled plastic bottles, this achieves the goal of bringing light to poor areas while at the same time avoiding to rely on traditional and centralized energy providers such as coal, nuclear or even hydro plants.

Bren Smith, Greenwave

Bren Smith, Greenwave

Connecticut - USA by Maxime Riché

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In 2013, Bren Smith, former industrial fisherman and ocean farmer, starts GreenWave (greenwave.org), an NGO aimed at replicating in open-source a new model of ocean farming that he has put together after years of trial and error. It offers solutions to mitigate our harm with regards to the current food insecurity crisis, and impacts of climate change. In 3-dimentional marine farm model that’s one of the most sustainable ways to feed us, requiring no inputs whatsoever, he grows Kelp (an algae), oysters, clams and mussels. This method restores ecosystems while reducing the pressure on fish stocks, and capturing carbon and nitrogen both from our atmosphere and from the water column.

Isatou Ceesay

Isatou Ceesay

Banjul - The Gambia by Luke Duggleby and Maxime Riché

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Waste, and plastic waste is a huge issue globally. In Africa, even more than anywhere else, waste is a major contributor to carbon dioxyde emissions and climate change. Isatou Ceesay has been empowering women in The Gambia for over 17 years, to turn plastic waste into revenues and thus take a more importante role in society while ensuring their financial independence. With over 2,000 members in 40 groups, and projects with the EU and the UNDP, Isatou’s organization, Women Initiative the Gambia, is one of the hopes for the continent to see this situation change.

Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer

Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer

Ferme du Bec Hellouin - France by Maxime Riché

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After a former life of international lawyer for her, sailor for him, Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer are now considered as the ambassadors of Permaculture in France. Recently awarded the sustainable development prize in Haute Normandie, their farm sets the bases for a respectful agriculture model that nevertheless boasts a higher productivity than traditional methods. By co-creating with nature on a 1000 square meter area, they have been able to demonstrate the feasibility – and the quality – of a production that re-creates biodiversity while at the same time allowing to generate higher revenues than on the mechanical exploitations.

Joe Justice, Wikispeed

Joe Justice, Wikispeed

Seattle - USA by Maxime Riché

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Joe Justice founded Wikispeed as a collaborative and open-source innovation project in order to build road-legal vehicles with over 100 miles per gallon of efficiency. By applying “SCRUM” project management methods, the volunteers at Wikispeed manage to innovate on car prototypes every two weeks, while the industry usually takes up to two years to adapt and change. He hopes that their results, available for free online, can be used to influence large car manufacturers to follow this lead, if we are to have the tiniest chance to act upon the ever more pressing issue of climate change.

The Venerable Bun Saluth

The Venerable Bun Saluth

Oddar Meanchey - Cambodia by Luke Duggleby

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Bun Saluth is Cambodia’s pioneer of the Buddhist environmental movement. In 2002 he succeeded, despite having been threatened with his life, in being able to legally protect 18,261 hectares of evergreen forest now called the Monks Community Forest, which he still safeguards today. What he achieved spread and now monks across the country are working together with local people to stop environmental destruction.

Jintana Kaewkao

Jintana Kaewkao

Prachuap Kiri Khan - Thailand by Luke Duggleby

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Becoming a full-time environmental activist was never part of the plan. For Jintana Kaewkao, a 50 year old mother of three, there was no need to be in her quiet coastal village. She moved to the village of Ban Krut when she was 20 years old after getting married to a local man, opening a small grocery shop. Life was quiet and simple.

Brian Kjaer and the inhabitants of the Samsø island, Denmark

Brian Kjaer and the inhabitants of the Samsø island, Denmark

Samsø, Denmark by Maxime Riché

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Samso is a small island off the coast of Denmark and home to about 4,000 Danish citizens who are proudly living on 100% renewable energy. When the government launched a competition in 1997 to develop an experimental, model renewable community, Søren, Brian and Erik initiated the Sustainable Island project. With the help of self-organized cooperatives, private local investments, and some very resourceful and ingenious citizens making small changes in their own livelihoods, the island became self-sufficient on renewables. The Samsingers now have their sights set on the next challenge: to be completely free of fossil fuels.

Ivonne Baki

Ivonne Baki

Quito - Ecuador by Maxime Riché and Nicolas Beaumont

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Dr. Ivonne Baki is the Ecuadorian Secretary of State for the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, and is a caring international environmentalist, as well as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Dr. Baki lead the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, in conjunction with the UNDP, to protect one of the most biodiverse areas in the world in the Amazon from oil drilling and the release of devastating amounts of CO2.

“If we don’t do something soon, it’s the humans who are going to pay the price.”

Dr. Jean Jouzel

Dr. Jean Jouzel

Paris, France by Nicolas Beaumont & Maxime Riché

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Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and most isolated continent on the planet, yet this is the region closest to the heart of French glaciologist and climatologist, Dr. Jean Jouzel. Vice President of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jouzel uses a scientific lens to study climate history, the evolution of water isotopes, and ice core models. “I think it’s our responsibility as scientists to spread the word about climate change,” says Jouzel. Winner of the Nobel Prize, Jouzel understands the challenge of communicating remote scientific discoveries to the general public and the importance of preserving the last wilderness areas relatively untouched by humans.

He carries out his research activities from the French Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique (CEA) in Saclay, near Paris.

Hong Hoang

Hong Hoang

Ho Chi Minh - Vietnam by Luke Duggleby

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In 2007, author Bill McKibben envisioned a grassroots platform that would use mass human movements, organizing, and online campaigns to fight against fossil fuels. He called his idea 350.org. Today, 350.org is one of the most pro-active international organizations with over 300 institutional allies. Many leaders in politics, science, and media have followed McKibben’s lead and embraced 350 parts per million as the safe atmospheric carbon concentration. As the 350.org East/Southeast Asia Coordinator, Hong Hoang organizes youth movements in Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. She believes in tapping the energy and power of young people through developing climate leadership and using new outreach strategies like social media.

Benoit Lavigueur

Benoit Lavigueur

Montréal, Canada by Maxime Riché

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Benoit Lavigueur is a 29-year-old Canadian carpenter who, over the course of six years, built the house of his dreams. The house, constructed from recyclable and local building materials, is 90% energy-saving and has a platinum LEED certification, making it the most ecologically-friendly house in all of Québec. “I built this house to prove to people that anybody can do it.”

Sherif Hosny

Sherif Hosny

Schaduf, Egypt by David Degner

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Not many people living in urban areas are used to seeing buses that have micro farms on their roofs. Yet the streets of Cairo generate both smiles and oxygen that way. Sherif Hosni, Tarek Hosni and Abdulraheem Ali have been living in Egypt for their whole lives, and they were the ones who could not settle for the usual urban panorama. Two brothers and a friend told themselves that their surroundings can and have to be green: whether it’s roofs, whether it’s walls, whether it’s streets. But it was important for the founders that these unique urban gardens don’t just beautify but have an economic impact as well, so some of these gardens are also profitable, where low-income communities get a chance to grow and sell their crops.

Dr. Duong Van Ni

Dr. Duong Van Ni

Can Tho - Mekong Delta - Vietnam by Luke Duggleby

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Dr Duong Van Ni of Can Tho University who has studied the effects of climate change amongst other factors seriously affecting the Mekong Delta. To assist farmers deal with an increasing salinity of their water source for growing rice he developed a simple salinity tester that farmers can use and then report their results back to a central database.

Mohamed Bassyouni

Mohamed Bassyouni

Karm Solar, Egypt by David Degner

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Karm Solar is a small private Egyptian company established in 2011, specializing in developing off-grid solar applications for the industrial and agricultural sector. In a region where the renewable energy market is still in its infancy, they hope to show through their products and impact on the ground that this is possible. One of these products is the first high-capacity solar water pumping station in the MENA region, introduced in 2013. Their patented solution is particularly easy to use in energy constrained (off-grid) desert locations and able to lift water at increased depth levels. Thanks to Karm Solar’s vision and dedication, operators of diesel-powered generators now have a sustainable and cost-competitive alternative.

Former illegal loggers of the Gunung Terang village

Former illegal loggers of the Gunung Terang village

Sumatra, Indonesia by Maxime Riché

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Estimates say that 40 to 61 percent of the Indonesian timber industry stems from illegal logging. Controlled by the mafia, these jungles once lush are now a kingdom of illegal loggers – a cohabition of jobless immigrants, making their ends meet, and government officials, making their fortunes. But in Gunung Terang, a small village in South Sumatra, deforested mountains are reconverted into tiny farms. With wooden caskets and rakes in their hands, Subari, Paryoto, Amir and many other villagers there are grow sustainable-farming-certified coffee beans and vegetables. It would be hard to believe that these were the very same people that once mercilessly chopped the trees.

Chewang Norphel

Chewang Norphel

Indian Himalayas by Peter Caton

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“People call me Ice Man,” Chewang Norphel, a 79-year-old civil engineer from Ladakh, India, says. For his whole life, Norphel has been living in a “land of high passes,” situated near major glaciers, and they became his true inspiration for innovations in water conversation. Back in 1987, Norphel invented artificial glaciers and started constructing massive dams in order to efficiently use the water gathered from melting ice.  Being simple and low-cost projects, these inventions have changed lives of even the most skeptical farmers. 30 years ago, Norphel was laughed at and never taken seriously, but today he stands in front of the camera as a proud citizen, and a real climate hero.

Caroline Dama, Re-greening Kenya

Caroline Dama, Re-greening Kenya

Mombasa, Kenya by Pedro Ramirez

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“My job is to encourage children to green their world,” says Caroline Dama, a mother, trained teacher and program coordinator for the Green World Campaign. Within just one year, she supervised the planting of more than 100,000 trees at ninety locations around Kenya, including schools, faith-based organizations and farmer groups. She has also built tree and vegetable nurseries at 65 primary schools in Kenya, thereby teaching over 3,000 children the importance of living in harmony with their environment.

Achim Steiner

Achim Steiner

UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya, by Jonathan Kalan

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Achim Steiner is well known for speaking on climate change and the green economy.

Thanks to his leadership among others, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a leading proponent of the Green Economy Initiative (GEI) designed to assist governments in “greening” their economies by reshaping and refocusing policies and investments towards a range of sectors. These include clean technologies, renewable energies, water services, green transportation, waste management, green buildings and sustainable agriculture and forest management.

Video coming soon.