Orlando Anaya

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30

Founder & Director
Kilometro Uno

Tijuana, BC, Mexico
Age: 27

Orlando works to address marine litter issues while also empowering the next generation of ocean leaders.

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

Through our environmental education program at Kilometro Uno, an organization that addresses marine litter and builds young ocean leaders, we have directly impacted more than 100,000 youth in 12 Mexican states.

As a consultant for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s Building Community Solutions to Marine Litter project, I was also responsible for designing and executing their environmental education plan which impacted over 1,300 students and private sector representatives, as well as 1,500 citizens on both sides of the US-Mexico border in the cities of Tijuana and Imperial Beach.

I also led the environmental education plan for Azul’s binational art and conservation project, part of the Bezos Family Foundation’s Students Rebuild program. The project’s main objective was to highlight the biological connectivity of endangered coastal species that know no national borders. The project directly impacted 100 children on both sides of the border, between the cities of Tijuana and San Diego.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. 

One of the biggest obstacles that we face is being taken seriously as an organization. The fact that we are young, has led to some questioning of the team’s capacity and commitment, but with time we have demonstrated that a large team and abundant credentials are not necessary to create impact. Working with passion, creativity, persistence, and never forgetting the goal can bring results. The project that started as a group of friends just cleaning the beach is now a consolidated movement.

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

“Don’t wait until someone else gives the first step, he might never do it,” is a phrase I wrote a few years ago and love sharing with everyone that might need to hear it. There will never be a perfect time to launch your idea, we don’t have to be experts. Start now and along the journey you’ll meet other people who are as crazy and determined, and, most importantly, who believe in you and your idea.

Creativity, passion, and persistence. The last one is the most important of all – don’t expect to see tangible results in the first months or years. Remember that this is not a race and we’re aiming to change the world.

What keeps you motivated, inspired, and/or hopeful for the future?

Kids, youth, and of course the ocean. Every time we share our message in a classroom or an auditorium, the atmosphere and energy are unbeatable. The will to protect the oceans is right there in every one of us, we just need a little push. Our biggest rewards will always be the words and messages we receive thanking us for our work and demonstrating total conviction to help. Regarding the ocean, my dearest memories are under, on, in, or near salted water. I want future generations to enjoy what I’ve enjoyed and to see what I've seen.

What are you happiest doing?

Meeting people crazy enough to think that they can change the world. Also, contemplating a sunset alone on a secluded beach.