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discussion with Rahmina Paullette

The Capgemini Research Institute spoke to Rahmina Paullette, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry in 2018 for Directed Evolution.

Rahmina Paullete is a Kenyan teen climate activist and a speaker at COP. She is involved with Fridays for Future MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas), which provides a platform to those most affected by the climate crisis.

She is the head campaigner for #LetLakeVictoriaBreatheAgain, which advocates for the restoration of Lake Victoria, one of the African Great Lakes. She is the founder of Kisumu Environmental Champions, for environmental and wildlife conservation, and climate change advocacy.

Rahmina has won many awards since 2016, including the Green Kids Award, 2018; Environmental Ambassador Kisumu County, 2018; and the Eco Warrior Tourism Change Maker Award, 2019; Africa Kids Awards 2021; ICPAC Climate Action Awards East Africa by IGAD, 2021 among a host of others. She is based in Kisumu, Kenya.

You launched a campaign called Let Lake Victoria Breathe Again, to support the restoration of the lake’s ecosystem. How did your journey start?

(Editor’s note: Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes, and is the world’s largest tropical lake, spread over nearly 60,000 square kilometers across three countries.)

Pollution of Lake Victoria and related flooding have accelerated, posing many threats to my community. So, I began the work of restoring Nam Lolwe [the name of the lake in the local Dholuo dialect), the lake that my ancestors grew up with.

You are also a part of Fridays for Future; what impact did you want to make as a member of the group?

Being part of Fridays for Future has allowed me to amplify my knowledge of the critical problems caused by the climate crisis and centering on the importance of vocal collectiveness for Most Affected People and Areas (MAPA).

Which is more important to the sustainability effort: a shift in consumer behavior or disruptive innovation to create solutions/products that are sustainable by design?

We have no time left to decide between the two. However, I guess I would slightly prefer solutions through innovation since this would create a huge impact on existing global issues.

What support do you expect from the older generation in protecting the environment?

It would be interesting and useful to learn from older generations, to understand how they view climate change and work with them towards greater sustainability. They could add social weight to existing projects and perhaps teach us about environmental solutions that have seen success in the past.

How can large organizations collaborate with younger environmental activists such as yourself?

“[Large organizations can help ] fund younger environmental activists’ work and help them amplify their message, through access to corporate media channels”

Going forward, do you aspire to start any environmental initiatives? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I founded my organization, Kisumu Environmental Champs, back in 2020, to allow kids, teens, adults, and older people to dedicate their time to environmental conservation, climate activism, and wildlife advocacy. In ten years, I feel like our work on the restoration of Lake Victoria will have made great progress in terms of the lake ecosystem being restored.

“I also see myself as a policymaker on climate change and the environment.”

If you had one superpower to change the way things are today, which would you choose?

I would want the power that world leaders have; that is key to changing the world. It is unfortunate that world leaders don’t seem to know how to use this power

“It is unfortunate that world leaders don’t seem to know how to [change the world].”

Which one piece of advice would you give to your peers?

I would say just use your voice to advocate for the planet; while it may seem like a small contribution, you can make a big impact.

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