Fontoh Desmond Abinwi

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30

Executive Director
Crusaders for Environmental Protection and Ozone Watch

Bamenda, Cameroon
Age: 28

Fontoh works to build “eco-kids for the future” by empowering young children to be ambassadors and combat growing environmental challenges.

How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities? 

Education is the most powerful tool for triggering conscious behaviors in kids. I am the founder of Crusaders for Environmental Protection and Ozone Watch in Cameroon, and through our “eco-kids for the future” educational program, we have trained and empowered 200 children in forest conservation, tree planting, and general environmental care. We have developed eco-clubs within five schools, where we have carried out eco-rallies and mega-competitions.

Furthermore, we are in the process of publishing three booklets on environmental issues. The booklets are made for children and will have easy to understand language. The booklets include stories on the issues and then solutions for the problems. We have also carried out workshops in schools wherein both teachers and students have been educated on effective environmental practices and how they can implement our environmental educational model in their curriculum. Currently, we have reached and empowered 200 kids and 10 teachers. We hope to extend our efforts to other schools and ensure eco-kids for the future are guaranteed.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. 

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Hailing from a slum with difficulties in getting access to education, I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship which permitted me to go to school, and eventually obtain a Master’s in Climate Change. My drive has always been to ensure a planet wherein mankind can live in harmony with each other, with kids at the forefront. With the increasing environmental concerns both in my community and the world at large, and the degree to which mankind has neglected our planet, my passion for environmental protection kept growing, with the goal to make a difference and ensure a change and legacy. I remember at one point my friends kept laughing at me as the guy who spends his time planting trees for no reason…but today I am proud to be amongst the EE Under 30 Class of 2020.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

We are living in a period of environmental crisis, as well as a pandemic with COVID-19 affecting the health of millions around the world. Environmental education should be a call to duty and action to combat our most pressing issues. We do not have to wait for global support; We can take individual and grassroots action.

Have humble beginnings and start small—you don’t need the masses to achieve your dream, but connecting with those with passion who can go the extra mile can ensure that a big project is achieved. Keep it real and always ensure you are ready to serve.

Remember that the journey will not be easy. We can ensure success by diligently following the Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

Your efforts in environmental protection and education will allow future generations to benefit from and enjoy a healthy planet. Never leave anyone behind on your plight to promote environmental education. Be consistent, committed, and motivated.

Who do you look up to as inspiration?

I have been inspired by many passion-driven achievers in the field of environmental education. However, my greatest source of inspiration has been Mahatma Gandhi with his purity of heart and the way he emphasized protecting Mother Nature and ensuring harmony. He was very unique, and his philosophy is key towards triggering conscious behaviors to promote effective environmental practices and the SDGs with all sincerity and belief in Africa and beyond.