In today’s world, the potential of one person taking action to make a positive change in their community has never been more important. 

Faced with issues like climate change and social inequality, young people aren’t holding back. They're demanding a better future, one that's free, just, and sustainable while their passionate voices are shaping a bolder, more equitable world.

These young activists recognize how their adolescence has been altered by a warming planet. 

Instead of waiting for world leaders to address the root causes of climate change and take steps to reach net-zero emissions by 2030, they’ve taken matters into their own hands by starting climate-first companies, lobbying corporations and government leaders, and changing the way they interact with single-use plastics.

Recognizing the reality of youth who have taken action in impactful ways, Global Citizen launched the 2024 Youth Leaders Award program to identify and highlight exceptional young people who are working across the Asia-Pacific region to achieve the UN Global Goals.

As part of the program, Global Citizen invited applications from changemakers between the ages of 18 and 30 for a chance to attend Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne. 

Coinciding with the gathering of ASEAN leaders in Australia’s most diverse city, this campaign will convene world leaders, influencers, artists, advocates, journalists, policy experts, and youth leaders to take action on climate, innovation, and fighting poverty.

After receiving more than 400 applications, Global Citizen selected 32 young innovators to attend Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne and participate in the three-day summit, where they’ll receive comprehensive training, peer support, and exclusive networking opportunities. 

These awardees will also have the chance to showcase their impact alongside receiving $5,000 AUD grants to advance their work addressing issues related to climate change and ending extreme poverty.

Today, we’re excited to introduce the 12 awardees who are working to stop the climate crisis in its tracks, both within their communities and the world at large. 

1. Lester Dellosa, 27, Philippines

Utilising their background as an artist, storyteller, and nationally awarded environmental youth leader, Lester Dellosa champions climate action through their role as Creative Director at CICCADA, a small advocacy brand that promotes waste-free practices. 

“Imported fashion costs the planet a lot—from textile production, shipping, to post care, the majority of the world’s fashion is retail, and fast fashion is not helping the world become a better place,” Dellosa told Global Citizen in their application.

When announced as a 2024 Youth Leaders Award finalist, Dellosa expressed gratitude: “I didn’t expect this! Thank you so much,” they said.

In addition to producing recycled and upcycled clothing items, Dellosa also works to improve knowledge of the climate crisis through capacity-building programs to educate small businesses and consumers about the effects of fast fashion.

2. Gabrielle Cabodil, 26, Philippines

Gabrielle Cabodil’s day-to-day is consumed with climate action. As the global operations manager for the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) Movement, Cabodil’s mission is to build capacity in the climate movement by supporting climate-smart policies, promoting renewable energy services, encouraging divestment from fossil fuels, and recognizing the intersectional nature of the climate crisis.

Cabodil shared her excitement for being selected as a 2024 Youth Leaders Awards finalist and what she hopes to gain from the program with Global Citizen: “I hope to contribute to the network of like-minded individuals by providing my unique perspective as a queer Filipina woman working on the internal side of activism. Further, I look forward to learning from peers' unique views through this opportunity.”

3. Qiyun Woo, 27, Singapore

Qiyun Woo is an environmental communicator who utilises art to make climate science accessible. She is the founder of The Weird and Wild, an Instagram account devoted to breaking down complex topics using comics and visual aids so that everyone can be part of the climate movement.

When Global Citizen announced Woo as a finalist for the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards, she responded, “Oh my God, I did not expect this. Thank you so much, this is really such an honour.”

4. Vishal Tolambia, 27, India

Dedicated to promoting ethical and sustainable fashion practices, Vishal Tolambia is the founder of Humanity Centred Designs, an organisation that works with over 150 marginalised Micro-Small Enterprises (MSEs) in India to transform textile waste into high-quality materials.

“I am so ready to come to Melbourne,” Tolambia said when he was announced as a finalist. “Thank you so much! This is really a great opportunity.”

As part of his application to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards, Tolambia shared his mission to drive positive change in the fashion industry while empowering underserved communities.

5. Brigitta Gunawan, 19, Indonesia 

Brigitta Gunawan is an environmental advocate who strives to foster ocean education and protection in Indonesia and beyond. In 2021, Gunawan launched 30x30 Indonesia — a campaign dedicated to protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030 through awareness campaigns and individual advocacy.

“I want to be part of the generation that sees diverse communities unite and rise against the crises we face today,” Gunawan said. After receiving notice that she was a finalist for the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards, Gunawan added: “I’m so excited! I’m really excited to meet all the other [award winners] too.”

6. Shah Chowdhury, 28, Bangladesh
Award-winning environmentalist and social entrepreneur Shah Chowdhury is the founder of Footsteps, which seeks to empower over 400,000 people living across Bangladesh with safe water and sanitation access, disaster resilience, and improved public health services.

“I’m on a mission to fulfil the thirst of the masses,” Chowdhury said in his application. “The availability of water is not the problem, but rather the technicality, the awareness of the importance of drinking safe water, and the mentality of aid dependence, are much bigger issues.”

7. Raeed Ali, 29, Fiji

With a background in environmental science and a passion for cleaning up plastic waste from the world, Raeed Ali embodies that value of Global Goal #13 by leading campaigns to eliminate single-use plastics in Fiji.

“As a Fijian, I knew I had to do something to address this issue and contribute to the sustainable development of my country,” Ali told Global Citizen in his application for the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “My team and I established Fiji’s first plastic recycling and upcycling hub. We collect plastic waste from the environment and create value from waste by making new products from used plastic, such as Braille keyboards for the blind and wheelchair fittings.”

8. Bianca Manning, 29, Australia

A Gomeroi woman dedicated to Aboriginal-led community development work in Australia, Bianca Manning has supported numerous campaigns to raise awareness of the climate crisis, such as the ‘Knit for Climate Action’ campaign.

Manning has also had a leading role in the Pacific Australian Emerging Leaders Summit, which has trained over 152 emerging leaders from the Pacific, First Nations communities, and the Diaspora in advocating for climate priorities.

9. Alicia Tien, 24, Malaysia

Alicia Tien is committed to driving the green transition of Southeast Asia. As the founder and CEO of Asia Discovery, a consulting firm that is dedicated to expanding global renewable energy companies across Southeast Asia, Tien focuses her climate efforts on innovative solutions and collaboration with other environmental advocates.

“I believe in the power of collaboration, innovation, and sustainability, just like how I believe these are the values of the [2024 Youth Leaders Awards],” Tien said.

10. Hazirah Sufian, 27, Brunei

Driven by her passion for social justice and youth development, Hazirah Sufian is dedicated to addressing the climate crisis through organising tree plantings, cleanups, and educational talks. As part of her work, Sufian mentors interns and other young adults who are interested in being part of the environmental movement to inspire the next generation of leaders.

11. Siti Norfarwizah, 27, Brunei 

Siti Jaafar is a self-described changemaker whose work centres around food sustainability, environmental advocacy, and social entrepreneurship. In 2021, Jaafar began advocating for better food recovery to reduce waste and improve Brunei’s agricultural activities.

“I am determined to continue progressing in my journey in sustainability and in my community,” Jaafar said in her application to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “I aspire to set an example to other leaders out there to get out of their comfort zone and pursue projects that can help the world be better to live in tomorrow.”

12. Dave Rubite, 26, Australia

Dave Rubite has devoted his career to helping organisations reach their net-zero goals in light of the climate crisis. Driven by curiosity, Rubite has launched several projects that intersect sustainability, innovative technology, and social impact. 

“I firmly believe in the inter-related nature of the complex problems we face, the problems that Global Citizen and the SDGs are trying to solve,” Rubite said. “Curiosity and collaboration are essential tools in addressing these challenges effectively.


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