THE BLOG
07/13/2015 04:27 pm ET | Updated Jul 10, 2016

14 Climate Leaders to Watch

Last month, Echoing Green announced the 14 recipients of the 2015 Climate Fellowship, built in partnership with The ZOOM Foundation. This Fellowship, which recognizes emerging social entrepreneurs working around the world, is specifically targeted for next-generation leaders committed to working on innovations in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The threat of global climate change is one of the greatest humanitarian and economic challenges of our time. Most recently, Pope Francis called for a "bold cultural revolution" to combat climate change, and according to new research by an international team of researchers published in the journal The Lancet, climate change poses a potentially "catastrophic risk" to public health due to increased risk of the spread of disease, food insecurity and air pollution, among many other things.

"When climate change is framed as a health issue, rather than purely as an environmental, economic, or technological challenge, it becomes clear that we are facing a predicament that strikes at the heart of humanity," wrote Lancet editor Richard Horton and Lancet Asia editor Helena Hui Wang in a comment also published with the study. "Health puts a human face on what can sometimes seem to be a distant threat."

Echoing Green expects powerful social returns from investment in promising leaders who recognize the future impact that climate change will have on their health, communities, and economic outlook. Our interest is in considering the full spectrum of responses to the climate crisis - from innovative technology in Silicon Valley to community organizing in the developing world.

Meet the 14 next-generation climate leaders ready to make an impact:

Bold Idea: Combat desertification and dwindling water resources in Tunisia by introducing new holistic farming approaches.

Organization: Acacias for All is changing the agricultural sector in the Arab Maghreb sub-region (with a focus on Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) by introducing a new holistic farming approach to fight desertification. Its approach shifts the focus of the sector towards alternative, natural, plant based irrigation complemented by crops that fit the local context.

Bold Idea: Create a climate-resilient Africa by incubating and supporting green business ideas.

Organization: Development Reality Institute (DRI) runs a catalytic and innovative climate change capacity building program for youths in Africa. This dynamic and interactive platform uses a combination of Internet tools, knowledge management products, and an incubation fund to create the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

Bold Idea: Eliminate the concept of waste and traditional plastic pollution by reusing wastewater to produce high-performance bioplastics.

Organization: Thanks to its proprietary technology, EggPlant reuses wastewater to produce high-performance bioplastic solutions through a zero-waste process. By taking inspiration from blue economy and biomimicry principles, the company aims to eliminate the concept of waste by reusing it as raw material for smart and sustainable technologies (closed-cycle, biorefinery, cascading system concept).

Bold Idea: Promote equity in Gulf Coast communities of color most affected by climate change by providing community stabilizing legal services and ecological equity training and support for civic participation.

Organization: The Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) is a nonprofit public interest law firm and justice center with a mission to build, serve, and advocate for structural shifts that promote equity for Gulf Coast communities on the frontlines of climate change. Through human rights-based legal services, community training, local leadership development, and grassroots advocacy, GCCLP works to create structural balance in policies and practices that produce disparate impacts on communities of color.

Bold Idea: Improve access to clean energy for off-grid households and increase crop yields for small-holding farmers in rural India by building and deploying decentralized waste-to-energy plants that sequester carbon through a microfranchise model.

Organization: Oorja provides clean energy solutions and biochar to rural Indian off-grid communities. Oorja designs, builds, and maintains easily operable "mini power plants" that are run by local micro-entrepreneurs.

Bold Idea: Reduce environmental degradation caused by livestock farming by encouraging mainstream consumption of insects.

Organization: Six Foods exists to normalize eating insects, bringing to life a vision of a sustainable food system where insects are grown in urban areas and fed on food waste. The goal is to substitute animal protein with insect protein. By doing so, Six Foods will reduce land and water usage, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Bold Idea: Eliminate wasted fossil fuels in India by offering affordable clean energy to large buildings and factories.

Organization: Smart Joules transforms the way buildings and factories manage energy by designing and implementing comprehensive energy upgrade programs at their premises. Smart Joules strives to achieve a direct, measurable and substantial reduction in carbon emissions throughout India.

Bold Idea: Expand access to clean energy in the United States by providing community-based solar power to underserved American households.

Organization: The mission of Solstice Initiative is to radically expand access to clean energy among households in the United States. Solstice accomplishes this by financing, building, and selling community-based solar to underserved American households. In doing so, Solstice transforms community organizations into "one-stop shops" for solar in local neighborhoods.

Bold Idea: Ensure consistent access to basic electricity for rural communities in East Africa by providing solar repair services and installing efficient and quality spare parts.

Organization: Village Energy solves the problem of lack of repairs and spare parts for owners of solar systems that is heavily restricting acquisition and use of solar systems in low-income rural communities in East Africa. Utilizing phone and radio repair technicians prevalent in rural East Africa, Village Energy is building a network of solar repair shops that provide repairs and spare parts within forty-eight hours from when an owner of a solar system needs it.

Bold Idea: Diminish negative impacts of climate change on Himalayan communities by developing strategies for food, energy, and talent security.

Organization: Yulha Fund fortifies schools, expands local ownership, and enhances adaptive capacity to minimize climate disaster. Yulha sets itself apart by working with existing schools and monasteries with a triple-bottom food, energy and talent security approach.

To see the full list of 2015 Echoing Green Fellows, click here.

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