Who I'll Be Today: Words of a Youth Climate Activist

Who I'll Be Today: Words of a Youth Climate Activist


Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. But why wait? Gen Z is not waiting to “grow up” before taking on the climate crisis and defining their role in the world today.

The youth climate movement is demonstrative of Gen Z's determination to be the transformative change they want to see in the world. 

At Green Builder Media’s 8th Annual Sustainability Symposium 2024: Existential Solutions,  Xiye Bastida, a passionate youth climate activist and co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative, reflects on her experience in the climate movement and shares her vision for the future.


“I think as youth, we are always asked, what are you going to do when you grow up? And I think we have this feeling of not having to grow up to do something because we see injustice happening, especially with something like the climate crisis”  says Bastida.

For Xiye Bastida and others in Gen Z, the year 2050—often cited as a target for climate goals—is not just a number; it represents their future. They are driven to affect change now to ensure that future generations, including their own children, will have a meaningful connection with the Earth.

Bastida laments, “We’re looking at 3 degrees of warming by the end of the century. 17% of the world might be uninhabitable by 2070. All of these things are super real to me, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure we don’t get to that type of catastrophe.”

In their attempt to avoid climate catastrophe, youth climate activists are advocating for greater involvement in company sustainability committees, moving beyond demonstrations and protests. Gen Z wants to be included at the table and have a voice. It’s their future that’s at stake.

Bastida sees Gen Z’s “role in the movement as connectors so that we can honor other histories.” 


She affirms that “political education of movements in general is super important for activism groups, so that we can recognize the reason why we are able to do certain things.”

“Every single political movement has added something to how we understand our interconnectedness with the climate and with each other and it makes us understand that the climate crisis isn't about the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere.”

Armed with this historical knowledge, Gen Z is more prepared to tackle the climate crisis. They can leverage this understanding in corporate sustainability committees and boardrooms to ensure that corporations address climate change comprehensively—not only focusing on carbon levels in the atmosphere but also considering its impact on society, people, and ways of life.

Bastida advocates for corporations to establish advisory boards or committees that actively engage with youth to listen to their concerns and aspirations for the future.

It’s important that corporations invite Gen Z to the table when it comes to sustainability. “It's not the same to have youth employees. It's not the same to have internships or fellowships. What's really important is to truly listen to the next generation when you make decisions.” says Bastida.

Gen Z is uniquely positioned to confront the climate crisis. Amidst a divided world, they stand out as one of the most unified generations in their concerted efforts to address the greatest impacts of the climate crisis.

Bastida affirms that her “generation is one of the most united and that they have a really clear vision of what they want the future to look like.”

The world should recognize the remarkable efforts of the youth climate movement. The future appears promising with leaders like Bastida and Gen Z at the helm.

If you missed the live presentation, don't worry! You can watch the recorded session here.

Be sure to check out the full playlist of Sustainability Symposium 2024 presentations.

A heartfelt thank you to Trane Technologies and Whirlpool Corporation for their continued support of our annual Sustainability Symposium, as well as their total commitment to corporate sustainability.