This 24-Year-Old Is Pushing for Climate Activism, Advocacy + Action

February 28, 2024

Leena Joshi is a social entrepreneur, climate advocate and author. She is the founder and executive director of Ethereal, a youth-led climate nonprofit, with 9000 volunteers in 40+ countries. She has sat on boards and advisory councils for various organizations. She has been a member at Harvard Business Review Ascend Select and has provided insights to editorial, marketing and product teams of HBR and has contributed to research projects by HBR. Leena’s work has been featured by World Bank Group, United Nations Foundation, International Universities Climate Alliance, Climate Reality Project, Her Campus Media, and Feminist.

This story took place in India

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One day, as I strolled along the shoreline at a beach, my passion for climate action ignited. The heartbreaking sight of plastic waste and marine debris marred the beauty of nature, pushing me to take climate action. That moment was a turning point, leading me to initiate Ethereal Inc., a youth-led nonprofit spanning 40+ countries with over 9,000 volunteers.

My vision for Ethereal began when I was in middle school during a trip to a town in Europe. Shocked by the stark contrast in air quality between different countries, I realized the urgency of climate education in Asia. My efforts led to a supportive community, eager to learn about climate solutions and stand with Asian environmental defenders. 

According to the United Nations, women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to socio-economic factors and cultural norms. For example, in many rural areas, women are responsible for securing food, water, and fuel for their families, yet they have limited access to resources and decision-making power. This realization compelled me to dedicate my work towards the intersectionality of gender and climate justice, to ensure that the voices and experiences of women are central to efforts in tackling climate change.

Through my nonprofit, I started a mentorship programme for youth in order to provide them guidance on how they can get involved in the climate space, and in addition to that, I started to consult businesses and brands on how they can reduce their carbon footprint with an emphasis on making their packaging sustainable and finding alternatives to plastic packaging. In ensuring our educational information is available to all, we also curated climate courses such as the Ocean Conservation Course, available on my nonprofit’s website.

My advocacy extended globally, from sharing insights in the Harvard Business Review to speaking at high-level global conferences like Asia-Pacific Climate Week and at the High Commission of Canada and universities across the world including Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge. Accolades from institutions like the World Bank Group humbled me. My books, ‘The Climate Awakening’ and ‘Ethereal,’ along with sitting on boards for organizations like World Ocean Day, The Ocean Project, Climate Reality Project, The Resilience Project, and more, fueled my drive.

Through my transformative journey and vision, Ethereal became a force for climate education. Every piece of plastic removed, every conversation sparked awareness, every young person mentored and every young mind inspired to take action became steps towards safeguarding our planet. My hope for students to join the Ethereal team echoes our collective mission: providing resources and opportunities to youth so that every person, regardless of their background, can learn about the climate crisis. United in purpose, I am resolved to use my voice along with millions of youth and passion to protect the environment, contributing to a healthier planet for all.

Pledge to Take Action

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