Environmental activist, speaker and youth leader.
Winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize, youth leader, Kehkashan Basu, born in 2000, has been impacting the global fraternity with her work on children’s rights, promoting gender quality, mitigating climate change and social upliftment. Born on 5th June, which is also World Environment Day, she feels that it was pre-ordained that she should grow up to be an eco-warrior. Spreading the message of peace, happiness and sustainability has been her passion since she was only 8 years old and she has worked tirelessly to enlist the support of children and youth across geographical boundaries. In 2013, at the age of 12, she was elected for a 2 year term as UNEP’s (United Nations Environment Programme) Global Coordinator for Children & Youth and a member of its Major Groups Facilitating Committee and she is the youngest person and the first minor, ever, to be elected into this position in the history of UNEP. She is also a United Nations Human Rights Champion for her work on protecting children’s rights.
Her internationally acclaimed work on sustainability has resulted in her appointment as the Honorary Advisor for the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development – New York, a member of KidsRights Youngsters, Global Advisory Council member of Young Men 4 Gender Equality -USA, members of World Oceans Day Global Youth Advisory Council and EarthEcho International Youth Leadership Council. She is also the youngest member of Canada’s Women in Renewable Energy forum.
Kehkashan is the founder of a youth organization, GREEN HOPE FOUNDATION, which seeks to provide a networking platform to children and youth, especially girls, to carry forward the Rio legacy through several environmental workshops and ground level projects on promoting gender equality, climate justice, stopping land degradation, biodiversity conservation, waste segregation and reversing land degradation. It now has over 1000 members across Middle East, India, Brazil, USA, Canada, Europe and SE Asia. Empowering young people is her passion and she spends a lot of time personally training and guiding many of them, majority girls, to conduct “on the ground” campaigns on mitigating climate change. In January 2018, she led a team of Green Hope members to Syrian refugee camps on the border of Lebanon and conducted environmental workshops for over 600 refugee children, turning into reality the UN mandate of “leave no one behind”.
In her role as the voice of children and youth, she has spoken at over 75 United Nations and other international summits, travelling to over 20 countries notable amongst them being the Y20 Youth Forum in Argentina, the 67th session of the DPI NGO forum at the United Nations.
For her environmental advocacy at a global level, Kehkashan has received international awards from UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification ) in 2012 , the 2012 Korea Green Foundation award, the 2013 International Young Eco-Hero award from Action for Nature, USA & the 2014 Kids are Heroes, USA award, 2014 GESS award as Ambassador for the Environment and the 2014 Solar Pioneer Award , the 2015 Non-Resident Indian of the Year Award, the 2015 & 2018 International Diana Award , the 2017 Turner Social Change Prize, the 2017 National Energy Globe Award , the 2018 Rising Star Award in Toronto on the occasion of International Women’s Day and she was one of the five Caribbean & the Americas Region Winners for the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work 2018. She has been named as one of Toronto’s most inspiring women changemakers.