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Climate change used to be what felt like a distant issue, but more people are starting to believe they could live to see the day when it impacts them. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of respondents are worried that climate change will personally harm them one day. As a result, 80 percent said they’d be willing to make changes to their lifestyle in order to mitigate the damages of climate change. The study found that there has been a significant increase in concern about climate change in most major economies since 2015.

Every day, humans worry about a lot of things from personal relationships to career aspirations to how they’ll afford college for their kids. The reality is that all of those worries become a moot point if we don’t have a habitable planet (or much of one) left to carry our lives on. Addressing climate change must be seen as a top priority by ruling officials and civilians, and those who are working in the sustainability space should be seen as heroes. Like many issues affecting the Black community, its women lead the charge. Climate control and sustainability is no different. In fact, you should know them. Here are six Black women who are making big strides to save our planet and raise climate change awareness.

 

Vanessa Nakate

Vanessa Nakate started her activism through protests outside of parliament offices in her town of Kampala, Uganda. After noticing a stark increase in temperatures in her region, she felt compelled to get the government involved. Her protests eventually gained support and traction, and led to her creating two programs doing excellent things in the sustainability space. The first is the Green Schools Project, which is aiding educational institutions in the process of going completely solar. The second is the Rise Up movement, which gives African climate activists a platform to share their stories with the world.

 

Heizal Nagginda

Heizal Nagginda is a law school graduate who founded the organization Climate Operation, which is based out of Uganda. Her organization works to educate communities about climate change as well as engage them in green activities, such as planting trees. Nagginda was inspired to create this program because she found that discussions about climate change were missing from the Ugandan school curriculum. She wanted to make sure her community received those lesson but also wanted to take things a bit further by getting them involved in sustainable activities to help them feel connected to how their actions impact the environment.

 

Jennifer Nnamani

Jennifer Nnamani is the founder of the Beau Monde Society, which aims to connect and shine a spotlight on Black creators and innovators in ethical fashion. Per their website, the company describes itself as an “Eco-focused creative agency offering small to mid-scale creative production.” The organization has created installations in major metropolitan areas with a focus on Afrofuturism and sustainability. They’re working to keep conversations about sustainability relevant and interesting through visual and immersive experiences. They offer event production, brand consulting, digital content and editorial services.

 

Wanjinku ‘Wawa’ Gatheru

Gatheru is the founder of the Black Girl Environmentalist Platform, which aims to bring together Black women who are dedicated to saving the planet. After noticing that she was the only person of color at many of the climate-focused events she attended, Gatheru wanted to find a way to make climate activism more inclusive. The platform organizes events including town halls, workshops and journal circles where Black women who are passionate about fixing climate change can come together and form collaborations, inspire and support one another.

 

Leah Namugerwa

Leah Namugerwa is just a teenager, but she’s already making waves in her Ugandan community. She founded a local branch of Fridays for Future – an organization that raises awareness, campaigns, marches and raises funds for green initiatives and climate change. Namugerwa has led several marches in her town and started the Birthday Trees project, which gifts seedlings to people who wish to plant trees on their birthday.

 

Jaylin Ward

Howard University student Jaylin Ward is an impressive individual who balances studies with being on the board of several green initiatives. She is the director of Generation Green, an organization that “connects Black liberation, climate justice, and environmental justice” according to their website. Ward also helped bring a Farmer’s Market and community garden to her school, which is maintained in collaboration with a queer + trans, Black + indigenous collective of farmers known as the Sovereign Earth group. Furthermore, Ward co-founded mAK Collective, a platform for non-male identifying Black individuals to create and promote art in the Afrofuturism space.

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