The UNICEF has appointed a 25 year old Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate as the newest Goodwill Ambassador.
Affirming her collaboration with the organization and recognizing her outstanding global advocacy for climate justice for current and future generations.
Last week Nakate travelled with UNICEF to Turkana Country in north-western Kenya to get firsthand impacts of water and food insecurity which is as a result of worst drought in the Horn of Africa in 40 years. In her first trip with UNICEF, she met with communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, including mothers and babies receiving lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition and families benefiting from solar-powered water supply systems.
“This role with UNICEF will provide me with more opportunities to meet children and young people in the places most affected by climate change and an expanded platform to advocate on their behalf,” Nakate said.
“In Kenya, the people I met told me about the impact of climate change and drought on their lives, with four consecutive failed rainy seasons depriving children of their most basic rights. One community had not received any rainfall for over two years. This is more than a food and nutrition crisis, it is yet another dimension of our worsening climate crisis.”
UNICEF’s appeal to improve families’ long-term resilience in the Horn of Africa region and therefore help stop drought devastating lives for years to come is currently just 3 per cent funded.
“As a young African woman, I have had to fight to be heard by the media and decision makers. While I am fortunate to have a platform now, I intend to continue fighting for others. The children on the frontlines of the climate crisis, like those I just met in Turkana, Kenya, are the people for whom I will fight in my new role with UNICEF,” said Nakate.
The UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said she hopes Nakate’s appointment “will help ensure that the voices of children and young people are never cut out of the conversation on climate change – and always included in decisions that affect their lives.”
We hope her appointment as a UNICEF Global Goodwill Ambassador will help ensure that the voices of children and young people are never cut out of the conversation on climate change and always included in decisions that affect their lives, Russell said.
Nakate started her activism activities in 2019 with a protest with her siblings and cousins on the streets of Kampala, inspired by Greta Thunberg. Since then she has used her platform to advocate for climate justice to include every community, especially those from the most affected places.
She continued to protest every week, becoming a well-known face in a movement of young people “striking” for the climate around the world. In 2020 she came to further global prominence when she was cropped out of a news photo she appeared in alongside Thunberg and other white climate activists. Nakate’s response to the incident, in which she said the news outlet “didn’t just erase a photo, you erased a continent”, made international headlines.
She founded Rise Up Movement, a platform to elevate the voices of African climate activists, as well as a project to install solar panels in rural Ugandan schools. She has addressed world leaders at the COP25 and COP26 climate summits and appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.
Nakate joins the ranks of other recent high-profile supporters such as actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, recording artists Katy Perry and Angelique Kidjo, Syrian refugee and education activist Muzoon Almellehan and, most recently, UNICEF’s youngest-ever Goodwill Ambassador actress Millie Bobby Brown.