The Global Good Awards: Championing Youth Activism


The Global Good Awards: Championing Youth Activism

Adam Pensotti
Adam Pensotti

Head of the Canon Young People Programme

The last two years have highlighted the power of youth activism. In 2019, around six million young people took part in the Global Week for Future. This series of international strikes demanded action be taken to address climate change, in what some have called the largest climate strike in global history. 
Across the world, young people are making a difference. It’s crucial for the sustainability community to engage young people and embrace the work they’ve been doing. For that reason we have sponsored a brand new category - the Canon Young Champion of the Year Award - at this year’s Global Good Awards (GGA), focusing on social engagement and environmental sustainability, driven by young people. 
The new GGA category provides an opportunity for young activists to get involved with the business sustainability community and find allies and mentors amongst the audience. More importantly, it allows us to learn from the next generation of leaders and gain a new perspective on the world we live in.

Protecting the environment: Bella Lack

At just 17 years old, Bella Lack is one of the leading conservationists in the UK. Alongside winning the GGA Canon Young Champion of the Year award, she is an ambassador for the Born Free Foundation, the RSPCA and the Jane Goodall Institute, helping them in their work to raise awareness and implement changes to support wildlife conservation.
A vocal voice on social media when it comes to inspiring and educating others to protect the natural world, Bella is also part of the team that established Reserva: Youth Land Trust. This organisation funds youth-driven nature reserves across the globe, empowering young people to take direct action in preserving endangered wildlife in their local communities.
Having just completed filming of the feature length documentary 'Animal' (to be released in October) to help provide solutions to the sixth mass extinction, Bella is a source of inspiration when it comes to how sustainability institutions should work with young people, engaging them in a formal process to collaborate and improve their own work on sustainability.

Bella speaking at the student climate protests
Bella Lack, Canon Young Champion

Local community engagement: Nicole Fernandes de Silva

Nicole Fernandes de Silva, the winner of the under-16 category of the ‘Canon Young Champion of the Year’ Award, has been at the vanguard of tackling community issues in South London. Nicole first came to the BIGKID Foundation, a south London charity dedicated to the prevention of youth violence, as an 11-year-old in 2015.

Image from Nicole’s “Through My Eyes” exhibition
"A world full of discovered opportunities and experiences; This is my home. " - Marina

As a 6th form A-level photography student, Nicole then became inspired to take part in BIGKID’s first art exhibition in 2019. Using the theme ‘Through My Eyes’, Nicole took a series of portraits of young people in her community. Each portrait was captioned with their thoughts on growing up in south London, painting a moving picture of the everyday dangers and concerns faced by young people. 

A solution to youth violence demands input from the government and other institutions, but it’s vital that local communities are put at the heart of any decision making. Nicole’s work has been key in showing the scale of the problem and giving the community a voice to demand change. She now regularly volunteers, developing media content and supporting at youth clubs to develop creative projects.

Image from Nicole’s “Through My Eyes” exhibition
"South London is a controversial place where we have gangs and politicians but a great social place to be." - Victor

Our ongoing commitment to young people

Celebrating, encouraging and learning from youth activists is key to achieving a sustainable future. The creation of this award marks the culmination of numerous projects led by Canon to support young people around the world to make their voices heard and celebrate sustainable change.

The award was inspired by the Canon Young People Programme (YPP), an initiative which provides disadvantaged young people across EMEA with education and training on the power of visual storytelling, supporting them to raise awareness and drive change on the sustainability issues that are important to them.

One of our partner charities from the YPP, Wild Shots Outreach, won the Community Partnership category for its work in helping local communities in South Africa to protect endangered wildlife by using photography to connect them with their local heritage and make their voices heard.

It’s through this process of collaboration, celebration and education that we can continue to make sustainable changes, and we look forward to the next Canon Young Champion of the Year Award in 2021.