Born in France in 1946, activist, film maker and photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand has always had a passion for the animal world and natural spaces. In 1991, he founded Altitude, the world’s first aerial photography agency. In 2000, Arthus-Bertrand’s book Earth from Above was published with support from the United Nations, documenting the condition of the planet. In 2005 he launched the Good Planet Foundation, which works to support and promote sustainable development. He became a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN’s Environment Program in 2009. He has also directed films about the impact of humans on the planet including Home (2009), Human (2015) and Woman (2020).
Tarana J. Burke has been working at the intersection of racial justice and gender equity for nearly three decades. Fuelled by a commitment to interrupt sexual violence and other systemic issues disproportionately impacting marginalized people- particularly black women and girls- Tarana has created and led campaigns that have brought awareness to the harmful legacies surrounding communities of color. In 2007, she created JustBe, Inc., an organization committed to the empowerment and wellness of black girls. The ‘me too’ movement was born shortly thereafter as an entry to healing for survivors and a way for young people to share their stories. In 2017, when #metoo went viral, Tarana emerged as a global leader in the evolving conversation around sexual violence. She placed the focus back on survivors and the need for survivor-centered, survivor-led solutions. Tarana has received numerous accolades including 2017 TIME Person of the Year, the 2019 Sydney Peace Prize.
Lydia Cacho is a journalist, human rights activist and writer. She is a specialist in gender violence, health, childhood and organized crime research, and is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Agency on Drugs and Crime. She is the co-founder of the Network of Journalists of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and founded a care center for women and their children who had been victims of violence. Her investigations have taken her to 132 countries and made her the most awarded journalist in Mexico, winning international prizes for both her journalism and her human rights advocacy.
10-year-old Sophie Cruz was born in the United States to undocumented immigrants from Oaxaca, Mexico.
At five years old, Sophie went to Washington DC to be part of the crowd welcoming Pope Francis who was visiting on behalf of undocumented immigrants. Sophie wrote the Pope a letter of hope and wore a t-shirt that said “Papa Rescate DAPA” (“Father rescue DAPA”). Sophie met Pope Francis, and gave him her letter asking for help.
Her passion to help undocumented parents continues. Sophie has said “I believe I have the right to live with parents. I have the right to be happy…All immigrants just like my dad feed this country. They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect.”
Patrisse Cullors is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles. Cofounder of Black Lives Matter and founder/chair of Reform LA Jails’ “Yes on R” campaign, she is also a bestselling author, and the Faculty Director at Arizona’s Prescott College of a new Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program that she has developed. Patrisse was named by the Los Angeles Times as a Civil Rights Leader for the 21st Century, and won the Sydney Peace Prize for her work with Black Lives Matter.
In 2013, Patrisse co-founded a global movement with a hashtag. Black Lives Matter has since grown to an international organization with dozens of chapters and thousands of determined activists fighting anti-Black racism worldwide. Her work fighting Los Angeles County’s $3.5 billion jail plan with JusticeLA is highlighted in the new blackpills docu-series RESIST.
Born in The Gambia, Jaha Dukureh, an international anti-FGM campaigner, is the founder and CEO of Safe Hands for Girls, a non-profit working in The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Atlanta, USA, fighting FGM and child marriage. Dukureh’s work combines grassroots activities with high-level advocacy. Her activism led to the Gambian government banning FGM in 2015, and received significant attention when her petition asking the Obama administration to research the scope of FGM within the USA received over 220,000 signatures. She partnered with The Guardian, heading its global media campaign against FGM in 2016. Dukureh has been included in the Time 100 most influential people in the world, New African Magazine’s 100 most influential Africans, won the Council of Europe’s North-South Prize and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is a UN Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa, a Generation Equality Leader, and a Champion for the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative.
UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Goodall redefined conservation to include the needs of communities and their environment. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute to continue research into wild chimpanzees, protect habitat and improve welfare of captive primates. JGI provides improved health for women and children, girls’ education and empowers local communities to become our partners in conservation. Roots & Shoots empowers youth in over 60 countries to become involved in programmes for the community, animals and the environment. She joined the Trillion Trees challenge and Roots & Shoots committed to planting 5 million trees in 2020 to help reverse shrinking tree cover. Dr. Goodall travels 300 days a year, speaking about threats to our environment, advocating for the protection of forests and all species and reminding us that there is hope for our world and that our daily actions make a difference.
Nigerian Dr Obigeli “Oby” Katryn Ezekwesili is a Senior Economic Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI), and Co-Founder of #BringBackOurGirls and #RedCardMovement. She is a chartered accountant, and has Master’s degrees in International Law & Diplomacy and Public Policy & Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She was awarded honorary doctorates by the Universities of Lagos and Essex.
Dr Ezekwesili was Vice President of World Bank (Africa Region), Nigerian Minister of Education, and Chairperson of NEITI. She is a founding Director of Transparency International.
She was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and made a Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR).
Dr Ezekwesili is currently building a citizens’ good governance coalition, FixPoliticsDotOrg, establishing an Academy of Politics and Governance, and is on a six month post as a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, Germany.
From Refugee, to Ivy Woman, to World Champion Poet, and now Goodwill Ambassador, 24 year old Emtithal (Emi) Mahmoud continuously advocates for the cause of refugees and disadvantaged communities the world over through her poetry and experience.
In 2017, she hosted the first fully inclusive civilian peace talks across Sudan as part of her One Girl Walk and Dreams for Peace Initiative. In 2018, she completed an unprecedented 1000km (620mile) walk in 30 days from Darfur to Khartoum, mobilizing thousands of people along the way.
From her landmark peace talks, to field missions with the UN-Refugee Agency, to a four-year research initiative on Sickle Cell Disease in Nepal, Emi constantly puts real-life knowledge behind her powerful words, driving people to action around the world.
Since her 2016 Yale graduation, Emi has worked with the Dalai Lama, the UNHCR, Kailash Satyarthi, Tawakkol Karman and several other Nobel Laureates, leaders, and organizations.
Andrew Mlangeni, a Soweto-born South African political activist and anti-apartheid campaigner, joined the African National Congress (ANC) in the 1950s and the mass resistance to apartheid.
In 1963, he was accused in the Rivonia trial alongside Nelson Mandela and other ANC members and anti-apartheid activists. After more than 25 years in prison on Robben Island, Mlangeni served from 1994-1995 as an ANC Member of Parliament in the first democratic, post-apartheid Government under Mandela.
Alaa Murabit is a medical doctor, Canadian Meritorious Service Cross recipient, one of 17 Global Sustainable Development Goal Advocates appointed by the UN Secretary General, and a UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment & Economic Growth.. In 2016 she founded a global Mentorship Programme for emerging leaders and co-founded The Omnis Institute , an independent non-profit organisation committed to challenging critical global issues through the empowerment of emerging local leaders, and became the Executive Director of Phase Minus 1, which provides thought leadership in conflict resolution and inclusive security. Alaa previously founded and spearheaded The Voice of Libyan Women at the age of 21.
An MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow and International Deliver For Good Influencer, Alaa serves as a board member for The Malala Fund, International Alert, Malaria No More and Women’s March Global.
Nadia Murad, co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, is a leading advocate for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. Nadia’s peaceful life was brutally interrupted in 2014 when Daesh (ISIS) attacked her village in Sinjar with the intention of ethnically cleansing Iraq of all Yazidis. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women, in particular, have been used as weapons of war through sexual violence and slavery. Much of Nadia’s advocacy work is focused on meeting with global leaders to raise awareness of Daesh and its genocidal campaign against the Yazidi people. Nadia is the President and Chairwoman of Nadia’s Initiative – a nonprofit organization that actively works to persuade governments and international organizations to support efforts to rebuild the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar and to end violence against women globally.
Kumi Naidoo is a life-long social justice and environmental campaigner hailing from South Africa. Born in Durban in 1965, Kumi’s first taste of activism came at age 15 when he organised and took part in an antiapartheid protest that saw him expelled from his school.
As a result of his continued anti-apartheid activism, he was forced to live in exile in the UK in 1986. He returned to South Africa in 1990 to work with the African National Congress. He went on to hold multiple leadership roles in civil society and global organisations, including as the Executive Director of Greenpeace. He joined Amnesty International as the organisation’s ninth Secretary General in August 2018.
Mr. Ndopu is an award winning, internationally acclaimed activist and humanitarian. Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at age two and given only five years to live, he has gone on to become a beacon of hope and possibility for people with disabilities around the world. Mr. Ndopu currently serves as Special Advisor to RTW Investments, a leading investor in scientific and medical innovation. He is one of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals. Mr. Ndopu holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Oxford University and is currently setting in motion plans to deliver a televised address to the UN from Space, in an effort to inspire greater ambition around the SDGs. This will make him the first physically disabled person to travel into space.
Kennedy Odede is one of Africa’s best-known community organizers and social entrepreneurs. Kennedy lived for twenty-three of his thirty-three years in the Kibera Slum, the largest slum in Africa, where he experienced the devastating realities of life in extreme poverty first-hand. The oldest of eight children, he became a street-child at the age of ten. Still, he dreamed about changing his community. In 2004 he had a job in a factory earning $1 for ten hours of work. He saved 20 cents and used this to buy a soccer ball and start Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).
SHOFCO now provides critical services for thousands of people, including healthcare, sustainable livelihood programs and clean water, has created a Community Advocacy Platform that enables people to engage in collective action to advocate for their rights and build the world they want, and invests in girls’ education and building long term female leadership.
Raull Santiago is a journalist, documentary and cultural producer, social entrepreneur and activist. He is the founder of the collectives Papo Reto and Movimentos and an integrant of the Brazilian assembly of members for Amnesty international. Raull also acts as a researcher on the impacts of drugs at the Center of studies for security and citizenship. In his fight against racism and human rights, he is an ambassador for the Institute Identidades do Brasil (ID_BR) and a member of Front Line Defenders.
Trisha Shetty is a social activist and lawyer from India. She started SheSays, a non-profit organization working for gender equality through youth and civic-society engagement. Her organization works on public safety, security, quality education, good health and well-being, digital literacy, sanitation, public policy and advocacy through a gender-sensitive lens. Trisha is also the President of the Steering Committee of Paris Peace Forum, an Obama Foundation Scholar at Columbia University and sits on the Global Leadership Council for The Museum for the United Nations – UN Live.
Alexandria Villaseñor is 14 years old and lives in New York City. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Earth Uprising, and therefore has decided to only be the interim Ambassador for the U.S. until another youth is selected. Alexandria has been on climate strike in front of the United Nations Headquarters since December 14, 2018. She began her climate strike after watching her home state of California go up in flames with the Paradise Fire, and as a result of her disappointment with the outcome of COP 24. Alexandria is passionate about climate education and has created Earth Uprising, along with all these other amazing youth world leaders, to educate youth around the world on the climate crisis and empower them to take direct action for their future
Melati Wijsen founded Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013, then 12 years old, with her younger sister Isabel, then 10, and has been leading the movement driven by youth since. After 6 long years on the frontline, the official ban on plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam has been enforced by the Balinese government (June 23 2019). Bali is the first Indonesian province to make the ban on plastic bags happen. Melati graduated from Green School Bali in 2018, one year early and has been a full-time change-maker ever since. Her most recent project YOUTHTOPIA is focused on youth: empowering young people to accelerate change by providing them with relevant skills and tools to create impact. YOUTHTOPIA empowers youth globally through peer-to-peer education providing them with the most relevant skills, tools and resources they need to be change makers.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist, student and the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At age 15, she was attacked by the Taliban for speaking out against their ban on girls’ education. Malala recovered, continued her campaign and, as co-founder of Malala Fund, is building a global movement of support for 12 years of girls’ education.