MEET THE CLIMATE HEROES
Learn about our Climate Heroes and what they are doing to mitigate climate change.
Illac Diaz, Liter of Light
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.
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.
Joe Justice, Wikispeed
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.