Muhammad Qureshi is helping protect pollinators in Ontario.

Photo from Muhammad Qureshi.

Photo from Muhammad Qureshi.

AGE: 22
HOMETOWN: Mississauga, Ontario

Muhammad Qureshi may have already appeared as a Top Environmentalist Under 25 in 2014 for his work with the Ontario Nature Youth Council (ONYC) and Ontario Nature, but he is back on our list this year, filling spot number 10 with additional outstanding achievements.

In the 2014 edition of our Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25, we highlighted Moe’s efforts through the ONYC to connect with other youth and rise above the belief that young people did not have the ability to successfully influence the protection of natural habitat. Since then, Moe has been recognized by the Lieutenant Governor with the Ontario Heritage Youth Achievement Award for his work related to conserving Ontario’s natural heritage.

Much of Moe’s work has focused on the impact of neonicotinoids on pollinators in Ontario.  He was in charge of the Ontario Nature Youth Council’s campaign called “Protect Our Pollinators”, aimed towards restricting reducing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides within the province, following the devastation faced by bees and other pollinating insects as a result of their widespread use.  Throughout this campaign, Moe took a very active role in developing a postcard campaign encouraging citizens to take political action against neonicotinoids, launching a media campaign to collect signatures supporting the banning of these pesticides, addressed questions to the Environmental Commissioner during a press conference, and has even written to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on the matter, requesting a more permanent moratorium on neonicotinoids.

His efforts are for a good reason too – some experts view neonicotinoids as more ecologically destructive than DDT, perhaps the most infamous environmentally devastating pesticides.  Moe was interviewed by CTV News in response to Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller’s comments regarding the negative ecological impacts of neonicotinoids, which you can watch here, where he clearly communicates, “[Neonicotinoids are] worse than DDT, and it’s kind of shocking that we’re moving so slowly to do something about it.  We recognize the problem and it’s time to do something about it.”

As a result of the work done by environmental advocates like Moe, the Ontario government has restricted the use of neonicotinoids within the province by 80% for two years.

As if the above accomplishments were not enough, Moe is also using his knowledge in chemistry and environmental science to construct a prototype device for portable ‘artificial photosynthesis’, whereby energy is created through water and sunlight – two readily available ingredients – to serve as a substitute for less versatile sustainable energy sources, such as traditional solar panels.  Muhammad expects to see this technology applied within the next four or five years as part of the UN International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies.

Whether his efforts are focused on public engagement, technological advancements, or ecosystem health, Moe once again proves he is one of Canada’s top environmental youth. Congratulations, Muhammad, on your second appearance on The Starfish’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 list, and thank you for your daily commitment to environmental health.