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EMPOWERING YOUTH

KEHKASHAN BASU
Founder and President, Green Hope
Participant at the ABU DHABI OPPORTUNITY PANEL

When asked about the global agenda that excites her most, Kehkashan responds that “the greatest opportunity lies in the empowerment and effective engagement of future generations.” She has not hesitated in pursuing this agenda herself with unwavering determination. “Every day is a new beginning full of latent opportunities that are just waiting to be fulfilled.”

A BORN ACTIVIST

Kehkashan started her engagement with environmental work at age eight. When asked about this early beginning to her activism, she brushes the age question aside: “I have always been passionate about the environment, and when I turned eight I felt that I was old enough to take action myself.” She planted a tree on that day, and her commitment grew rapidly from there. She never doubted her path: “I am born on the 5th of June, which is the World Environment Day. I have always felt that it was preordained for me to work for Mother Earth and become an eco-warrior.”

According to Kehkashan, “opportunity leaders are visionaries who do not let the trees crowd their vision of the forest. They base their decisions on their impact on the betterment of society.” She has lived by this principle throughout her 15-year lifetime. At the age of 12, she was elected as the Global Coordinator for the UNEP Major Group for Children and Youth. Though all of her predecessors had been adults, Kehkashan took on the task unhesitatingly. “I wanted to prove that age has nothing to do with capability,” she explains.

ECO-WARRIORS UNITE!

Kehkashan is engaged in causes addressing both gender bias, the lack of educational opportunities for children in developing nations, and environmental protection. But the issue at the core of her activism is the lack of opportunities for youth involvement in the many sustainability processes, in particular in some UN bodies. For Kehkashan, the importance of involving young people is self-evident: “It is our future that is at stake, so it is imperative that we are involved in all aspects of agenda-setting, policy making and implementation. We do not want to inherent a dry, barren planet just because we couldn’t voice our opinion.”

By founding her own organization, Green Hope, Kehkashan is working to get other young people involved. The organization is run entirely by young people, with the youngest member being seven and the oldest 27. “We do not have adults telling us what to do. We chart our path ourselves. I
started the organization at 12 and over the years we have become a trailblazer in the field of sustainability.” She seeks out this same passion in other young eco-warriors in order to set a new youth-driven sustainability agenda: “we want people who actually care about the issue so it benefits the community as well as them, because they will get pleasure from the work. Whatever comes from the heart stays.”

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