Heeta Lakhani

Going from feeling helpless about the climate crisis to leading the Green Warriors movement in India

Heeta Lakhani clearly remembers the day when she saw Mumbai’s palm trees being uprooted for a beautification project. She was just 13 but remembers wondering how one could beautify an area by removing the natural beauty from it. Her response to this at that time is probably what most of us would do even today – feel sad and helpless before returning to the status quo. Fifteen years after that incident, if you look at Heeta today, you’d realise that she is anything but helpless in working to alter the status quo as far as climate change is concerned. Attending the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris gave her a first-hand look at the highest levels of official global climate action. Her continued engagement with the global youth via the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) made her realise the knowledge gap on climate science and international processes among Indian youth.

This led her to become a climate educator and develop the “Green Warriors” programme on climate education, which continues to grow till date. The latest recognition of her efforts comes from being one of the two elected Global Focal Points of YOUNGO, the official children and youth constituency of UNFCCC. A firm believer in the participation and power of youth in grassroots as well as international processes and policies, she eventually hopes to create change-makers who will take knowledge-based action in order to combat the climate crisis. Heeta’s work enables the future leaders of India to act on climate change today, fulfilling India’s National Curriculum Framework, which mandates environmental education for all schools, and SDG 13 by improving education, awareness, and capacity for climate mitigation.