Top 20 Young Women in Sustainable Development

Young Women in Sustainable Development, in celebration of World Youth Skills Day, is showcasing the efforts of phenomenal young women who are working to support sustainable development in their countries and regions.

Elizabeth Gulugulu Machache

Elizabeth Gulugulu is a dedicated environmentalist who is passionate about Climate justice. She is an MSc candidate in Biodiversity Conservation who is highly experienced in youth mobilization for Climate Smart Agriculture activism and research in sustainable agricultural solutions. She is currently the Global South Focal Point for the Official Children and Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC and has participated in several Conference of the Parties and Global Conference Of Youths in Climate Change. She is also a Climate Change Consultant and has consulted for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) were she supported the NDC Enhancement Support Team (NEST) Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment (OCB). She has also consulted for the Government of Zimbabwe on the development of a Carbon Framework also an American based organisation on strategic partnership. She has an interest in the interlinkages of biodiversity conservation and agriculture, sustainable farming, building resilient communities, Climate action, youth empowerment, and women empowerment through advocating for sustainable projects including renewable energy use and agro ecological practices. She was recently selected in the top 100 African youths into Conservation and she spearheaded the Zimbabwean National Youth Consultations on the Nationally Determined Contributions Enhancement Process in Zimbabwe and the editor of the NDCs youth policy brief.

Jennifer Uchendu

Jennifer Uchendu is a climate activist, sustainability analyst, and founder of sustyvibes, a youth-led organization making sustainability relatable and actionable for young people in Nigeria. Jennifer’s interests lie in the intersections of women, youths, and the environment. Recently, she launched The Eco-Anxiety Africa project (TEAP), focused on exploring and understanding the experience of eco-anxiety in African populations through research and advocacy. Jennifer started sustyvibes first as an educational blog for sustainability and environmental advocacy targeted at educating young Nigerians. The success of the blog showed that translating the world of sustainability through pop culture makes messages more relatable and impactful on young people. With time, the team began to think of how to use the power of volunteerism to bring together young people who want to make sustainability actionable. The blog has since evolved into a community focused on sustainability research and design led by young people. SustyVibes now connects with youth and numerous motivated volunteers using their preferred mediums be it dance, music, art, or community events. Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Covenant University and a Master’s degree in Development Studies (specialized in climate change and gender) at the Institute of Development Studies, England. She is also a 2019 Chevening scholar, a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow, and the co-author of the e-book: “A Guide to Business Sustainability in Nigeria.”

Joan Patience A.

Joan is a health activist with expertise in the areas of mental health and sexual reproductive health rights with focus on amplifying voice for women and young people. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, she has worked with various stakeholders to extend services and also call to action government to intervene. She presented a position paper titled; Teenage pregnancy in the context of COVID and the rising demand for essential safe motherhood services. To call government to intervene in the rising cases of teenage pregnancy in Uganda. As a result, many recommendations such as reopening of schools and prioritization of psychosocial support for learners were adopted. She currently serves as a board member at the Straight Talk foundation and contributes to the national youth steering committee on population and development.

Shennon Sequeira

Shennon Sequeira is a 20-year-old student currently studying a joint degree of LLB Law and Criminology at the University of Leicester. Currently, she works as the Head of the Program Coordinator Team and the Youth Representative at the Board of Directors at MUN Impact, a youth led organisation that empowers youth to fight and be involved with the SDG’s. In addition, she serves as a Director on the Global NGO executive committee that works closely with the United Nations Department of Global Communications to represent the voices of the NGO’s across the globe! She also works as the Publicity Officer for the Climate Crisis Pro Bono project at the University of Leicester. She has always been a strong advocate of youth voice, empowerment and international rights and continues to fight for this.

Faith Kilonzo

Faith Kilonzo is a youth leader, volunteer and environmental coordinator in Makueni County. She is a young International relations expert with a keen interest in the global commons of sustainable development, strong peace and justice institutions and public formulation. Through experience in Communication and Community Service in Humanitarian and Education fields, she partners with public institutions, private sectors and the media. As the Coordinator for Spice Warriors Kenya, she also works on climate change mitigation projects, where transformative education on climate action (SDG 13) is imparted to primary school going children through creative projects.  While volunteering for Spice Warriors and Enkare Volunteers for over a year, she became passionate about the SDGs and started her own volunteering organization. The Foundation is an agri-business venture that works on restoration of degraded land and she is thriving on the new challenges she faces as an SDG champion, an entrepreneur and a conservationist. Faith feels the need to expand environmentalism to not only planting trees and clean ups but also to offer socio economic development via the Maundu Maseo Foundation. The Foundation will offer food to the table to school going children to reduce hunger (SDG 2), advise on restoration agricultural practices (SDG 14) and as a business to focus on industry, innovation and agriculture (SDG 9), while addressing the challenge of unemployment and poverty (SDGs 1 & 10) and specifically a business that takes carbon credit for its consumption and production of products (SDG 12).

Miriam Nafula

Born and raised in Bungoma county-Kenya the then Western Province, Mirriam is a young lady who has excelled in diverse field of youth and Gender advocacy programs. She started to serve in youth leadership capacity back in 2020 during the emergence of covid 19 where she together with a few young people were innovative enough to come up with a youth organization called VTRM, a very influential youth forum that brought almost all the youths from Bungoma county together towards achieving a common goal. They advocated for youth empowerment programs and good governance. Mirriam has been able to serve in different capacities including working with Webuye West Alliance youth group, Champions of change, Bosimami youth Balaizers where she served as the project coordinator, BUYA where she served as the county women Rep, MWASA where she’s serving as the vice chair, YAFNET -Bungoma  serving as the secretary and Vine Africa as an election observer. It’s through such engagements that she earned herself a greater chance of being considered in national organisations and NGOs. She is currently working with Youth In Action in partnership with Amref Health Africa in advocating for Youth friendly policies in Bungoma county and has been incorporated in the Technical Working Groups of county and national Governments. She also takes pride as a young female who is passionate about Leadership, Governance and Democracy, where she has attended both virtual and physical meetings and trainings. She has also hosted great dignitaries in her shows including the famous “Space of Youth in leadership and Governance”. Recently, she was appointed as the Country Director of AAFL (Association of Africa future Leaders). Mirriam’s Goal is to see a just society where every youth is given an equal opportunity to venture into leadership positions. Her aspiration is to see an increase in the number of youth and women representated in the coming 12th parliament.

Moyosoluwa Olabisi Oladayo

Moyosoluwa Oladayo is an international development practitioner with over 10 years of work experience in the development, private and public sectors. She graduated with Honors in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Abuja, Nigeria and currently works with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) as the Global Volunteering for Development Officer where she provides technical advice to 18 VSO countries in the Global South to support Government processes and practices through the design of policies, frameworks, and training on the global volunteer standards such as review and design of Volunteering Policies in about 6 countries, the SDGs VNR presentation for Nepal in 2020 and ARFSD and HLFP presentations for Malawi in 2022. She is the producer of SDGs Connect; an advocacy platform for the Sustainable Development Goals which started as online content in November 2021 and up scaled to include a weekly live radio show in February 2022. She hosts 2 SDGs-focused radio shows in Abuja Nigeria; SDGs Connect and Decade of Resilience. She co-founded Emandes Social Development Network and founded Emandes Global Consults Limited Formerly known as Global Access Master Class. As an advocate of Volunteering for Development, she has spoken on both national and international platforms to project the importance of volunteering especially for nation-building and the Sustainable Development Goals. She is an active volunteer with both national and international organizations and networks. In 2021, she won the UNV Country Award Nigeria for the Volunteer’s  Impact on the government-selected project category and in 2020, the government institution in charge of volunteering recognized her efforts toward promoting volunteering in Nigeria.

Sagarika Bhatta

Sagarika Bhatta is an Environment Science and Management postgraduate from Nepal. She is an environmental preservationist, entrepreneur, Researcher and feminist Climate Leader. She is also the chairperson and founder of PowerShift Nepal and Environmental Research Services and Training Center -We Care Nepal. She is both a former Climate Tracker 2016 Fellow and a participant in the Asia Climate Leadership Camp 2019. She is also a Korean Green Grants recipient. She recently received the Women in Science Award  2020, climate action race to zero award in 2021- for roof farming from DO community and published nominee of 6th edition for gender-just climate solution award by the Gender Consistency of UNFCCC. She is also a climate Ambassador for Max Thaibiso Edkins of World Bank Group 2022 and at UNLEASH plus 2022.

Esther Oluwatoyin Agaja

Esther Oluwatoyin Agaja is an Environmentalist, a Social Impact Entrepreneur, and an experienced Project Manager, with over 6 years of experience in the education sector both in public and private schools. She is the founder of Eco Diversified International, an organization that is working to promote Climate and Environmental literacy among the young generation which supports the Sustainable Development Goals. Her primary aim is for youth and children to be informed about climate change, which she has begun to achieve through the EDI- Eco-Network – an inclusive platform for all to learn about climate change, be aware of happenings in their environment, and bring about solutions to the climate crisis. The EDI- Eco-Network has been launched as an Eco club in primary and secondary schools and Eco Campus in institutions. She has successfully trained over 3,100 Students, 96 Educators, and communities on Climate & Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development. She recently launched a climate action initiative tagged the 1,000 Trees per Year Project as one of the Climate Restoration approaches. Oluwatoyin has volunteering experience with both local and international organizations working on achieving Climate Action, Peace Building, Youth Development, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Gender Equality, Leadership, and Capacity Development. She is a graduate of the Young Women Leadership on Climate Adaptation by the Banki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens, United People’s Global Sustainability Leader, and a 2022 Fellowship Peer Collaborator at the Global Citizenship Fellowship. She is a graduate of Chemistry from Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, and Post Graduate Degree in Environmental Management and Petroleum Technology. She is a fellow of the 2020 SDGs Youth Advocates by Brace-Up the Young fellowship, a fellow of the Generalkopho Leadership Program and Global Schools Program (an initiative of the UN Sustainable Development Solution Network). Over the years, her continuous commitment has earned her several awards and recognition, which include the TLA-SDGs 30 Under 30 award (for her Advocacy on SDG 13, Climate Action), Second Runner-Up in the idea pitch contest by GLP, and Award for the Outstanding Young Peace-builders in Nigeria (in recognition of her contribution to Peace-building and Sustainable Development in Nigeria), and a US Exchange Alumni from the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs.

Michele Marina Kameni Ngalieu

Marina is a Cameroonian herpetologist. She has conducted research on Cameroon’s endemic skink populations and on endangered amphibians on Mount Manengouba. She has also been involved in education and awareness-raising events for many years. Marina believes it is important to include the local population and school children in conservation work in order to better participate in the protection of the natural habitat and biodiversity. She also hopes to become a well-known person in the field of amphibian and reptile conservation in Africa and to be able to share her experiences and network with other scientists around the world.  Protecting Cameroon’s biodiversity is her motto.

Zoe Keath

Guided by a strong sense of advocacy and justice, Zoe has been involved in a wide range of representative, advisory and advocacy roles. In particular, she is a passionate advocate for young people and currently represents young people as a Youth Advisor on the U.S. Consul General’s Youth Advisory Council, Wear It Purple’s Youth Action Council, Braveheart’s Youth Advisory Committee, and YourTown’s Our Pride Youth Advisory Group. She also volunteers as a Steering Committee Member with Voices of Influence Australia as the Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Chair, aiming to empower a youth voice in human rights. She has additionally, been part of many projects such as an Expert Research Assistant with international CoronaNet Research project, aiming to compile a detailed database of government covid-19 responses and policies; and as a research assistant on a project to help develop guidelines and recommendations for a VR program to help train police officers around domestic violence.

Karimot Odebode

Karimot Odebode is a performance poet, writer and advocate from Ibadan Nigeria. She is the founder and project lead of the Black Girl’s Dream Initiative (BGDI) – a youth-led organisation that works to end Female Genital Mutilation; promote Education and leadership through Arts, Advocacy and Technology. The Black Girl’s Dream Initiative has over the years mentored hundreds of teenagers in the art of public speaking, debate and self-confidence. Her organisation organizes an annual Debate training and Competition for Secondary School students in Oyo State. She is a graduate of Law from Obafemi Awolowo University. Karimot is the author of a poetry collection, “a woman has many names” and an award-winning poet who has performed at several high-level meetings and conferences.  She uses poetry to advocate for gender equality and a sustainable world. She created the Transform Education anthem for the United Nation’s Girl’s Education Initiative (UNGEI), and her poetry has been featured by DARE Conference, Global Education Summit, Plan International, ONE Campaign, BBC Media Africa, International Telecommunications Union and UNICEF amongst others. She uses her poetry as medium of promoting the sustainable development goals and creating a safe world for girls and women. Karimot was a two-time Youth Champion for ONE Campaign where she advocated for a world free of poverty and inequality. She was one of the 45 female African activists from 15 African countries that signed the open letter for gender equality which was presented to world leaders by the ONE campaign on International Women’s Day 2019.

Mardia Adams Kanyiti

Mardia Adams is a passionate young environmental and development advocate who strives for the development and equalization of economic and social livelihood among Africans. She has learned and implemented environmental and social development skills into the building of awareness on climate change through her green entrepreneurship business (Sheane Cosmetics), wildlife conservation awareness through her social media page, ‘Be Nature Today’, and the running of an eco-friendly cooking fuel through Nex.Energie limited. “We can only build Africa through our people, by use of our own resources – a trump card no other nation can rob”. As Africans, Mardia believes they are made to make things happen and they have an envious breed of knowledge and excellence in them that the other world fights for. “I believe in the Africa that is unseen, the struggles that are unheard of, and the results that will drive our continent into envious perfection.”

Ibiso C. Ikiroma-Owiye

Ibiso C. Ikiroma-Owiye is a Radio Presenter with 3 years of experience with Wave 91.7 Fm, a radio station in Rivers State, Nigeria. Ibiso is also a volunteer with the NGO, Sickle Cell Awareness and Health Foundation as the Head of Communications, where she coordinates the team in producing relevant content for the media. She is passionate and vivacious about creating change in local communities, environmental sustainability and marine biodiversity, so she founded, “Grassroot to Global Sustainable Development Network”, a youth-led organization focused on advancing the SDGs and innovative climate actions and solutions at the grassroots level. She founded this organization after her education and certification on The Sustainable Development Goals from the University of Copenhagen- Denmark. Ibiso is also an affiliate with several NGOs such as; Youth Sustainable Development Network, Centre for Environment Human Right Development, Save Nigeria Mangroves Foundation among others. Ibiso has been involved in several international conferences and has won several awards of which she and others recently emerged as winners of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Nigeria Stockholm+50 Consultation on Climate Solutions and Actions. In her free time, Ibiso likes to tie gele (head wrap), listen to music, dance, see a movie and swim with friends.

Aanya Wig

Aanya is recent graduate from LSR. She is a SUSI scholar, being one of the four girls nominated to represent India for the women’s leadership fellowship with the US Department of State. She is also the Co-Founder of Covid Fighters India, one of the biggest Covid Relief initiatives in the country which came up during the second wave. She is a Project Associate at Circle In, working on empowering women economically and has given two Ted Talks. She the Co-Founder of Girl Up Rise, a non-profit organisation empowering women through digital access and safe platforms. She has worked with UNESCO’s Cluster Office and as a journalist with The Quint. Aanya is also on the Young People’s Action team for UNICEF.

Patience Sibanda

Patience is a development practitioner who has over 6 years of experience in research and consultancy work for academia, government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Her researcher work mainly focuses on climate change and its intersection with livelihoods, community led adaptation strategies, gender and youth development. Patience is also involved in climate change education and has organised workshops, facilitated and trained other young people on the importance of influencing climate action in their respective communities. She is amongst the first 30 young women to be trained on Women Leadership on Climate Adaptation by the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizen. Currently, she is going through Leadership in Civic Engagement training as a Mandela Washington Fellow at Michigan State University in the USA. Her main vision is to contribute to the board of development knowledge through extensive research that has a potential of influencing development policies in all levels and improving livelihoods.

Sofia Pereira Barbeiro

Sofia is a Project Manager at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. She holds a strong passion for the intersection of SDG 5 – Gender Equality with SDG 13 – Climate Action and SDG 14 – Life Below Water, building knowledge on the nexus between the climate crisis, gender equality and ocean protection. A previous board member of the Youth Climate Leaders (YCL) Portugal, in 2021, she was selected as the Portuguese Ambassador of the Global Youth Climate Network (GYCN), a highly competitive initiative under the World Bank’s Youth-to-Youth Community, representing youth voices in the World Bank Group. This role led to her representation of Portugal as an official youth delegate at the Pre-COP26 “Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition” event in Milan, where the Youth4Climate Manifesto was presented. Most recently, in early 2022, she was invited to join the Youth Delegation of the Council of Europe and to represent Portugal for a one-year non-official mandate at the Congress of the Local and Regional Authorities. She was also nominated a Local Pathways Fellow ’22, an initiative of the SDSN Youth, developing a project that aims at promoting fair youth engagement and youth-led policy advocacy both at the local and national levels.

Sanya Ruggiero

Sanya Ruggiero is an International Strategic Communications Advisor, with clients ranging from Pacific Heads of State to the United Nations. She is a regularly commissioned writer for Al Jazeera World News, and frequent guest on International radio and television — sought after for her analysis of topics spanning the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. With a background that includes Public Health and Government Relations [University of Sydney], Sanya has previously worked as a volunteer with Australian NGO, Second Chance Africa. This was followed by roles within the European Union in the Pacific, the UN World Food Programme and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office for the Pacific Region. Her favourite ‘stint’ in the last 12 months was working with the Government of the Marshall Islands to produce its first-ever communication strategy for Nuclear Justice. When she’s not trying to be of some small use to humanity, you’ll find Sanya enjoying the day with her kittens Gio and Nino — probably watching true crime!

Emelda Miyere

Emelda Miyere is a 27-year-old woman with the dream of making menstrual information and products as free and accessible as possible. She does this through donating sanitary products as she educates adolescent girls, teenage mothers and young women of reproductive age with an aim of eradicating period poverty and stigma. She is a graduate from Moi University with a bachelor’s degree in special needs education. She currently works at The Pangea Network as an adolescent girls and young women peer educator and at Amref under the Y-ACT program as a peer to peer advocacy mentor.

Emma Heiling

Emma, 23, is the CEO and Co-Founder of the non-profit organisation ClimaTalk ( which demystifies climate policy and empowers young people in the fight against the climate crisis. At the moment, she is about to start her second year of her Master’s in Environmental Policy at the University of Sciences Po in Paris. She has an undergraduate degree in Environment, Law & Economics from the University of Cambridge, where she was also heavily involved in environmental societies and set up her own sustainable food campaign. Until recently, she coordinated the Sustainable Development Working Group at Generation Climate Europe. She has a critical mind-set and likes thinking outside the box to find solutions and create opportunities. Emma is Austrian and grew up in its capital Vienna. She started volunteering for animal rights and environmental NGOs during her school years and turned vegan at the age of 14. As a big foodie, she loves trying out new vegan recipes and restaurants.

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