KEHKASHAN BASU, 19
HOMETOWN: TORONTO, ONTARIO / HURON-WENDAT AND PETUN FIRST NATIONS, THE SENECA, AND THE MISSISSAUGAS OF THE CREDIT RIVER
At a young age, Kehkashan recognized how children were often not included in the sustainable development process. She felt her generation often did not have a platform to voice their opinions or fight for our environment.
She decided to start her journey to make a difference, no matter how small the difference might be.
At 12 years of age, she started the “Green Hope Foundation”, an organization through which she now makes great differences for the betterment of our environment.
Her mission is to create awareness among young people, educate them about the environmental crisis we are undergoing and empower them to make a difference. She is a global advocate for intergenerational solidarity and her foundation provides a platform for all, especially girls and marginalized youth, to raise their voices and help them amplify their thoughts.
Kehkashan conducts various workshops to educate young people about sustainability, especially among marginalized groups. These workshops are unique as these are run by children to educate other children.
By doing so, Kehkashan is able to educate youth and empower them to develop skills that help them fight for environmental issues. She believes this peer-to-peer engagement model is a win-win for all.
However, her foundation isn’t the only platform Kehkashan has to advocate against the environmental crisis. She is the author of “The Tree of Hope”, a book that follows a young girl who, with the help of her friends, turns her village into a green oasis.
Through her book, Kehkashan creates role models for youth. She hopes her story encourages young people to start taking action.
Kehkashan is also a musician and along with the Green Hope band, composes songs and raps about their experiences in the field.
Kehkashan’s work is unique as she isn’t only fighting for the environmental crisis. Her focus is to eradicate various social problems including the fight for children’s rights, gender equality and to provide equal opportunities to marginalized peoples to amplify their thoughts. She believes we can only be successful in mitigating these issues when we bridge the opportunity gap and leave no one behind in the sustainable development process.
Kehkashan’s work has brought her immense success and respect. When she was 12, she was elected for a two-year term as UNEP’s (United Nations Environment Programme) Global Coordinator for Children & Youth and a member of its Major Groups Facilitating Committee, making her the youngest person and the first minor, ever, to be elected into this position.
Later on, she went on becoming United Nations Human Rights Champion and winner of the 2019 “Innovator of the Year” along with many other awards and achievements.
She plans to continue her advocacy through the Toronto-St. Paul’s Constituency Youth Council, which often tackles issues related to environment and climate change.
Currently, Kehkashan’s work spans over 25 countries. She has impacted over 57,000 youth and continues to broaden her reach. Her work has proven that every action makes a difference and if every individual continues to acknowledge his responsibility towards our planet, we can all contribute to the creation of a more just, equitable and sustainable world.