Born in India’s northeastern state of Manipur, Licypriya Kangujam is a young climate activist who has been campaigning for environmental action for years and has recently managed to convince two Indian states to adopt climate change as a subject in the school curriculum – all at just 8 years old. Having founded The Child Movement to mobilise more young campaigners in India to join the cause, Licypriya’s mission is to get a climate change law enacted in her home country to prevent further climate disasters and protect the rights of children.
At just 8 years old, Licypriya Kangujam is making huge strides to ignite change in India and beyond. She founded The Child Movement in 2018, a movement dedicated to pushing for a climate change law in India to protect the rights of the current and future generations, and her work has already caught the attention of many – including accolades such as the World Children Peace Prize and the India Peace Prize.
Her journey into becoming a climate activist began in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Accompanied by her father, she went to Kathmandu from India by road to carry relief resources and food. Along her journey, she realised the climate connection – that many of the “natural” disasters were rooted in anthropogenic climate change.
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In 2018, when she was 6 years old, Licypriya raised her voice in front of world leaders at the Asia Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risks Reduction. Soon after, she founded The Climate Movement, and dropped out of school in 2019 when the FridaysForFuture campaign went global so that she could protest outside of the Indian parliament in New Delhi every week.
While some have made comparisons to the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Licypriya prefers to be known as a unique climate campaigner in her own right. In her home country, she has already successfully lobbied for the government of the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat to make climate change a mandatory subject in their schools.
But knowing the severity of the climate crisis, Licypriya wants more to be done. In conversation with Lifegate, she said: “Children are smarter and more concerned than our leaders. We want climate action now without wasting any more time…What we want is not about today or tomorrow, but what needs to be done now.”
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Though her goals are global, she hopes to drive change in India first, the country that is soon to become the most populated in the world and is considered the 5th most vulnerable country to extreme weather events. In a report published by the World Resources Institute (WRI) last year, scientists predicted that India, Pakistan and Turkmenistan will be among 17 countries to experience extreme water shortages in the coming years due to the climate crisis.
As scientists have pressed for decades now, we are reaching a climate “tipping point”. It has left behind a trail of disaster, from pushing entire species to near extinction to mass displacement of communities due to sea level rise. With rapid urbanisation, consumption growth and population set to increase in Asia, the path that the continent takes will have impacts that reverberate globally.
It is time for the adults to listen to the children. Without real systematic change, Licypriya argues, there will be “disastrous” consequences with “deep economic and social impacts”, especially on an entire generation that had little choice about the destruction done unto our planet but are still fighting to save it.
All images courtesy of The Child Movement / Licypriya Kangujam.