UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2022
“As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, it will be my first responsibility to bring the voices of children and marginalized people into conversations where they were previously excluded.”
Climate activist Vanessa Nakate was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2022. Vanessa began advocating for climate justice in 2019 with a protest on the streets of Kampala, Uganda, inspired by Greta Thunberg. She continued to protest every week, becoming a well-known face in a global movement of young people “striking” for the climate.
In 2020, Vanessa rose to further prominence when she was cropped out of a news photo in which she appeared alongside Thunberg and other white climate activists. Her response that the news outlet “didn’t just erase a photo, you erased a continent” made international headlines.
Vanessa has since used her platform to advocate for climate justice for every community, especially those most affected by the impacts of climate change. She founded Rise Up Movement to elevate the voices of African climate activists, as well as a project to install solar panels in rural Ugandan schools. Vanessa is also the author of A Bigger Picture, a manifesto on inclusive climate action.
In her first trip with UNICEF, Vanessa travelled to Kenya to see firsthand the impacts of water and food insecurity caused by the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in 40 years. There, she met with communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, including mothers and babies receiving life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition and families benefiting from solar-powered water supply systems.
Vanessa has addressed world leaders at multiple climate summits and appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 2021.