Lalita Gopaul

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30

Volunteer and Researcher
Eco Club

East Coast Demerara, Guyana
Age: 24

Lalita is a researcher passionate about educating farmers and young people about environmental conservation and protection.

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

I have been using environmental education in the form of scientific research and knowledge sharing to build sustainable communities in Guyana. My research covers eco-friendly agricultural methods, clean energy solutions, and green technologies, all of which have been added to the library of Guyana’s National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute and published in international journals and local magazines. These pieces are aimed at educating farmers around issues of sustainability.

I also decided to share my scientific knowledge and experience with youth in Guyana by way of mentorship by founding an environmental youth group called the Eco Club. Through Eco Club I mentor over 50 young people between ages 16 and 22 through environmental education, climate action walks, tree planting, environmental awareness activities, nature camps, coastal clean-ups, STEM, and recycling activities. My work is making a difference since there has been a drastic shift in mindset, where members are now more concerned about the environment and have even moved on to having their own impacts, and farmers are adopting eco-friendly agricultural techniques.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. 

Growing up in a farming family in a small village, my love for the environment was triggered by my experiences on the farm. After obtaining my BSc in Environmental Sciences, I was employed as a researcher at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute. I started my environmental education journey as a volunteer with environmental regulatory bodies in Guyana, and I have also been involved in environmental advocacy, particularly targeting youth. My journey has been a fulfilling one as I have gained a sense of satisfaction knowing that I am making a difference in the way agriculture is done in Guyana, and through my work educating youth around environmental conservation. Due to my impactful developmental work, I was awarded a Guyana National Youth Award for Environmental Conservation and Protection in 2019 and subsequently a Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work (SDG: Climate Action) in 2020.

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

I believe the next generation of leaders will determine how the planet evolves as it relates to sustainability. I would advise the next generation of leaders to be cognizant of what our generation is being deprived of and use that to imagine the magnitude of what future generations will lose should the world continue to operate at the current unsustainable rate. Only then will they be able to make the correct choices for the good of the planet.

If you could be any animal or plant, what would you be and why?

If I was to be an animal, I would choose to be a butterfly. Butterflies are living proof of how we can evolve from something insignificant and with limits, to something beautiful and impactful over time. Sometimes we feel like we are too young to make a difference, but if we tap into our true potential we can change the world.