Ridhima Pandey is from Uttarakhand, India, where she has lived her whole life. In 2013, when she was only 5 years old, her region was hit by disastrous floods. These floods took hundreds of lives and left thousands homeless. Ridhima’s inquisitive mind would not let this go. “Why?” she would ask her father, Dinesh Pandey (a climate activist himself). Her father explained to Ridhima that climate change causes extreme weather conditions and that was why these floods were more frequent and on such a large scale.
Ridhima already knew what caused climate change. It was downright wrong that the actions of big oil companies, banks and even governments were having such impacts on innocent people and the planet. She had to do something!
In March 2017, nine year old Ridhima filed a lawsuit against her Government for violating the rights of the people who fell victim to the floods. Her case was dismissed. Not one to be deterred, Ridhima sent her case to the Indian Supreme Court. It was a long and grueling process, and the case is still pending in the Supreme Court. Her activities as an activist have continued to grow. In 2019, she was one of the 16 youth activists who, along with Greta Thunberg, filed a legal complaint [link: https://childrenvsclimatecrisis.org/] against five nations through the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child. These five nations, Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey, are the largest emitters to ratify the convention. The legal complaint states that these five countries are “recklessly causing and perpetuating life-threatening climate change [and] have failed to take necessary preventive and precautionary measures to respect, protect, and fulfill the petitioners’ rights.”
In other words, by continuously pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere while knowing the effects, these countries are violating the human rights of billions of people, particularly children, as they have to live with the consequences. “I want a better future. I want to save my future. I want to save our future. I want to save the future of all the children and all people of future generations.”
Ridhima is still in school, but in her spare time, she is very active as an international activist.
Story by Cécile Girardin & Kaya Malhi