You don’t have to be a world leader to make an impact. Melati Wijsen and Cruz Erdmann are two young environmental activists who are taking big steps towards becoming more sustainable and leaving a positive impact on the environment.
Melati, the co-founder of Bye-bye Plastic Bags and Cruz, the recent Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year joined the Sustainable Development Goals Dinner at the Goal 17 Partners space on Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland.
Both environmentalists began their journey in unexpected ways and are now inspiring others to take care of the world’s oceans.
Melati, a Bali-native, wanted to improve lives in Bali by cleaning up plastic waste found around her home country, so she and her sister decided to create Bye-Bye Plastic Bags. As a ten-year-old at the time she envisioned the project would only take six months to complete, but after seeing the extent of the challenge she realized that solving plastic waste would involve the engagement of all levels of society. Now she has refocused efforts to create an international movement of inspiration and youth empowerment.
In order to engage others with environmental issues, Cruz utilizes his photography to inspire awareness of environmental degradation in those around him. By bringing awareness to the issue he hopes to create a connection between humans and the natural world while also creating sustainable change.
Through his work, Cruz hopes to help show others that the ocean is an asset that we should all take care of.
The SDG Dinner featured inspirational leaders challenging the world’s leaders to deliver on the promise of the UN’s sustainable development goals.
“If you make today better it is going to affect tomorrow,” said Mohammed Al Jounde, the founder of Gharsah School and a Teenage Change Maker.
“I was never an activist, I was just a concerned youth. Someone who was concerned about the future and about my fellow Puerto Ricans,” said Salvador Gomez Colon, founder of Light and Hope for Puerto Rico.
Earlier, SDG advocate Hindou Ibrahim (pictured above), an environmental activist working on behalf of the people of Chad, urged the Goal 17 Partners to stay engaged to make the goals a reality.
“In order for companies and individuals—and even governments—to modify their behavior in order to achieve the objectives in the sustainable development goals we need two things: an alignment of incentives and a way to share best practices,” said Scott Minerd, Chairman of Guggenheim Investments and Global Chief Investment Officer of Guggenheim Partners.