15 year old Kehkashan Basu, an Indian citizen living in the UAE, has been working to promote peace and sustainability since she was 8. Her advocacy on engaging, educating and empowering youth resulted in her being elected at the age of 12 as the Global Coordinator for UNEP’s Major Group for Children and Youth , making her the only minor to ever hold this position.
She campaigns internationally to voice the hopes of young people and has been invited to speak at over 50 UN & other international summits. She champions the cause of sustainable consumption, climate justice, and gender equality and was invited to speak at the European Union Parliament during the European Week of Action for Girls. She is also the Founder of a youth group “Green Hope” which now has over 1000 members and it spreads environmental awareness among civil society, mainly youth.
This ambitious girl’s primary objective is to give young people a voice. Youth are among the largest stakeholders of civil society , yet the most marginalized and under-represented. She pushes forward on the importance of sustainability and believes that future generations have a right to inherit the environment in the same pristine condition as our forefathers. To do so she spreads awareness among the youth in her youth group Green Hope. She conducts community campaigns on sustainable consumption, plants trees to stop land degradation, holds conferences and seminars to raise awareness about gender equality, and travels widely to champion the cause of climate justice.
Similarly, Kehkashan wants every child, especially girls, to be able to go to school. She also wants to ensure that global warming is kept within limits by reducing the carbon footprint. She along with her youth group believe that planting trees is the most effective yet simple way of combating global warming and reducing desertification. To this day, she has planted over 4000 trees in UAE, India, Kenya, Brazil, and Indonesia. The goal of each of her youth members is to plant a million trees in their lifetime. Championing the cause of education, she has organized books, toys, and stationery to be sent to many schools in India. In certain academies, she trains young people to conduct presentations and learn about how one can make a positive impact on the environment. She uses social media – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube videos for launching her various campaigns.
Kehkashan reaches out to the youth and civil society in general by conducting workshops and community campaigns such as: beach cleanups, tree planting, recycling campaigns, and relief material collection for victims of natural disasters such as the Nepal earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In her role as the Youth Ambassador of World Future Council and earlier as the Global Coordinator for UNEP’s Major Group for Children and Youth , she has engaged several thousand youth across the globe. She uses social media to effectively lend her young voice to sustainability issues.