Meet the young eco-protectors working for a healthier planet

Updated 4:23 AM ET, Tue December 3, 2019
Melati and Isabel WijsenMelati and Isabel Wijsen
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Melati and Isabel Wijsen were just 10 and 12 years old when they began campaigning to have plastic bags banned from their island home Bali. Six years of tireless work paid off when in 2019, Bali banned single-use plastics. Courtesy BBPB/Zissou
Mari Copeny is also known as "Little Miss Flint." She came to fame in March 2016 when, aged 8, she wrote a letter to then-President Barack Obama about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan., which inspired him to fly to Flint. In 2017, she appeared in a video promoting the People's Climate March, and she started #WednesdaysForWater this year, raising awareness every Wednesday about places in need of clean water. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
Jamie Margolin, 17, is the co-founder of Zero Hour — an organization pledging to take "concrete action around climate change." The group has lobbied members of US Congress to pledge to stop taking money from the fossil fuel industry, and organized marches to demand climate action. Zero Hour
Bruno Rodriguez, 19, is leader of the Fridays for Future movement in Argentina. The 19-year-old activist has organized student walkouts in his home of Buenos Aires and attended the first UN Youth Climate Summit in September 2019 in New York City. IVAN COURONNE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Gitanjali Rao, from Colorado, was just 12 when she was awarded the title of "America's top young scientist" for designing a compact device to detect toxic lead in drinking water, which she believes can be faster and cheaper than other current methods. Discovery Education/Andy King
Isra Hirsi, the 16-year-old daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar, has been a longtime social justice advocate and more recently became involved in climate activism. She co-founded the US Youth Climate Strike -- an American branch of the international movement inspired by Greta Thunberg -- and attended the UN Youth Climate Summit. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Town & Country
Angad Daryani, from Mumbai, left school in the ninth grade and then self-educated while working with MIT Media Lab until the age of 17. Now an undergraduate at the Georgia Institute of Technology, he is developing an industrial-scale air filter to remove the pollutants and carcinogens that plague modern cities.
Ethan Novek was a teenager when he founded Innovator Energy, which is developing a way to capture the carbon dioxide emitted by coal or natural gas power plants more cheaply than other technologies. courtesy Ethan Novek
As a teenager, Ann Makosinski developed a flashlight that runs on heat from a human hand. Now 21, she is working on a range of toys that use renewable energy sources, aimed at inspiring youngsters to find creative solutions to climate change. Courtesy of Giullan Gioiello
Alhaji Siraj Bah began making eco-friendly bags and briquettes as a teenager in Sierra Leone. "Nothing is impossible," he says. "Do what you can -- and do more." Courtesy of Alhaji Siraj Bah
Deepika Kurup invented a water purification system as a teenager, after seeing children in India drinking dirty water. She patented her technology last year and is searching for a company that is already working in the developing world to implement it. Courtesy of Deepika Kurup
After an Indian student Abhishek Banerjee visited a traditional brick kiln, he was inspired to create the Plastiqube -- an alternative brick made from recycled plastics. courtesy Abhishek Banerjee