We’re halfway through National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep 15 – Oct 15), and what better way to celebrate than to highlight 10 amazing Hispanic activists, educators, and influencers taking a positive stand for our planet! From authors to lawyers to Indigenous Rights leaders and everyone in between, we couldn’t be more excited to share with you 10 amazing Hispanic environmentalists, past and present, you need to know right now!
An Indigenous Rights leader from Honduras and a member of the Lenca, Berta Caceres was an environmental activist who took a stand—endangering her own life in the process—against mining and development projects endangering the land and health of her people. In a massively successful grassroots campaign, Berta managed to rally the Lenca people to put pressure against the Agua Zarca Dam, successfully persuading developers and funders to pull out of the dam’s creation.
In one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be an environmentalist, Berta was a guiding light for her community, encouraging people to take a stand for their rights and livelihoods against harmful practices.
Berta was assassinated in her home in 2016, but her legacy lives on and continues to inspire environmental activists around the world.
Christiana Figueres was the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, playing a critical role in the creation of the 2015 Paris Agreement. She also co-authored the popular novel on climate change titled The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.
Throughout her career, Figueres has worked with governments, businesses, and other activists to develop an atmosphere of collaboration and diplomacy with a planet-first mindset. Past work experience includes roles as the Director of Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) as well as founding the Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (CSDA).
As both an attorney and environmental justice leader in in Puerto Rico, Elizabeth Yeampierre is a long-time advocate of community organization and taking a stand for a more sustainable future. She is Co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance and has been integral to ensuring that environmental justice is included in EPA guidelines. In addition to speaking at the White House Forum on Environmental Justice as well as Pope Francis’ Climate Change Rally at the National Mall in Washington D.C., Yeampierre is also the Co-founder of the Building Equity & Alignment for Impact (BEA-I) initiative.
George Melendez Wright
George Melendez Wright grew up visiting U.S. National Parks with his family, later becoming a guide for the Sierra Club in order to share his passion and knowledge with others. In 1928, in an effort to establish a wildlife biology plan for the National Park Service, he noted the numerous killings of predators in the U.S. National Parks (by Park officials) which significantly affected wildlife populations in the parks. His work eventually led him to be named the first-ever Division Chief of the Wildlife Division of the National Park service. Years later, President FDR appointed him to the National Resources Board.
At an impressively young age (only 31), George Melendez Wright was responsible for critical institutional reforms of the National Park Service that emphasized wildlife conservation and responsible resource management. Today, multiple mountains are named after him in national parks throughout the U.S.
Located in the Amazonic region of Ecuador, Helena Gualinga is a member of the Kichwa Sarayaku community and has been outspoken about the negative and highly destructive effects of industry on the Amazon and its many Indigenous communities. She notably protested at the 2019 Climate Action Summit and participated in COP25—the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain—that same year.
In response to the failure of COP25 to do more to reduce the impact, influence, and power of fossil fuel industries on world governments and markets, Gualinga founded Polluters Out, a global coalition of youth, grassroots, and other environmental organizations demanding change.
In 2022, she spoke on the Daughters for Earth panel at the Bioneers Conference as well as appearing in a documentary about her life of activism titled Helena Sarayaku Manta.
Founder of Queer Brown Vegan, a highly followed web and social media platform, Isaias Hernandez is a Mexican American climate and environmental educator and influencer. As a result of his experiences with environmental injustices in the community where he grew up, Hernandez chose to develop an environmental education page focused on the intersectionality of social justice and the environment, covering topics that are often left out of the overarching environmental discourse.
Before becoming a full-time content creator and educator, Hernandez helped to start the digital publication Alluvia Magazine (@alluviamag), which highlights BIPOC voices throughout the environmental space.
Jamie Margolin is a Colombian-American writer, activist, and the founder of Zero Hour, an international climate justice movement for and by youth. In 2018, Zero Hour led its first Youth Climate March in 26 cities around the world, including Washington D.C.
Margolin was one of the 13 young people who sued the Sstate of WashintonWashington over its lack of action to protect the climate for future generations. In 2019, she testified in Congress alongside other youth activists like Greta Thunberg to promote the implementation of climate change policies.
In 2020, she published her first book, Youth to Power.
Julia Carabias Lillo
Both an environmentalist and an ecologist, Julia Carabias Lillo researched a number of critical topics as a university professor, including rainforest regeneration, environmental regeneration, and the use of natural resources. In 1992, she contributed to a Report titled “For Earth’s Sake” for the UN Conference on Environment and Development.
She served as the Mexican Secretary for the Environment, Natural Resources, and Fisheries from 1994 to 2000, doubling the size of Mexico’s protected area system to more than 6% of the country’s total area and protecting a significant amount of biodiversity as a result. In her role, she worked directly with the United States to restore natural water flows to the Rio Grande. In 1994, Lillo was also named President of Mexico’s National Institute of Ecology.
A native Puerto Rican and proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Dr. Samarys Seguinot-Medina recognized the connection between land and people, inspiring her to establish the first and only chapter of the Sierra Club in Latin America. For seven years, she worked to volunteer and build the organization from the ground-up.
Today, she lives in Alaska, working as the Environmental Health Director for Alaska Community Action on Toxins (ACAT), helping isolated Indigenous tribes—specifically, the Sivuqaq Yupik people—to establish Indigenous sovereignty and environmental independence, returning decision-making and land discussions back to the communities that have stewarded these lands for millennia.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (pronounced Shoe-Tex-Caht) is an eco hip-hop artist and Youth Director of Earth Guardians. Raised in the Aztec Tradition, Martinez grew up with an awareness of the connection between people and the natural world we rely on. His mother was also an environmental activist, establishing an Earth Guardian school in Maui, Hawaiʻi in 1992.
Martinez made his first official public speech on the topic of the environment at age six and has been an engaged activist ever since. In 2015, he spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on Climate Change, and in 2017, he released his first album “Break Free” as well as his book We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that Restores the Planet.