Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Convenor / International Spokesperson

pronouns: she/her, they/them

Short biography
Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a full-time climate justice activist based in Metro Manila, Philippines. She is the convenor and international spokesperson of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), the Fridays For Future (FFF) of the Philippines. She is also an organizer with FFF International and FFF MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas) making sure that voices from the Global South especially are heard, amplified, and given space. A strong voice on anti-imperialism, anti-colonization, and the intersectionality of the climate crisis, she is committed to changing the system and building a world that prioritizes people and planet, not profit, through collective action.

Photos can be found here.

Opinion pieces:

Latest piece: Two generations of Filipino climate fighters on their battles with the government

Climate and Social Justice:

Divestment and Climate Finance:

To world leaders:

Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a youth climate justice activist from Metro Manila, Philippines. The Philippines is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, and one of the most dangerous country for environmental defenders. She has always been very passionate about the environment. Even at the age of 9, she would go up to strangers and tell them about greenhouse gases and global warming and she would weep when she saw the destruction happening around her after every typhoon.

While studying at the University of the Philippines Diliman, she was a student leader and became part of the College of Science Student Council where she was part of the environmental concerns committee. In 2017, Mitzi was able to talk with one of the leaders of the Lumad indigenous group in the Philippines and he told her about how they were being militarized, displaced, harassed, and killed all for defending the forests, the environment, their home and that was why they have no choice but to fight back. That was when she realized that we need collective action to push for systemic change.

In 2019, she convened Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, the Fridays For Future of the Philippines and has been raising awareness, talking to policymakers, organizing strikes, and making connections globally ever since. Also active in Fridays for Future International, Mitzi always brings her advocacies of climate justice, intersectional environmentalism, and leadership of the vulnerable everywhere she goes. She also always fights to make sure that voices from the Global South are heard, amplified, and given space.

Why are you striking?
The Philippines is the 2nd most vulnerable country to the climate crisis, yet our contribution to the global greenhouse gas emissions are so minimal. With this planetary emergency, common sense would dictate that climate would be at the top of the agenda and those already protecting the environment would be listened to. Instead, we have no concrete climate plans, our environmental activists and defenders are being killed, harassed, and displaced. The willful ignorance of world leaders is pushing us all to become climate activists, pushing us all to strike for justice. I am an activist because I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I don’t want to ever again be afraid of drowning in my own bedroom because of the floods. I don’t want to have any more candle-lit dinners because our power is out and the typhoon is raging outside. I am an activist because of my deep love for the people and the environment, a love that binds me to the movement calling for climate and social justice.

What action would you like to see on climate in the immediate future?
In the Philippines, we need to declare a people’s defined climate emergency and impose a moratorium on any new dirty energy and environmentally destructive projects, such as reclamation projects and mega-dams. We need to have concrete people-centered climate adaptation policies with proper implementation. We then need to start developing and prioritizing research and development into renewable energy and consulting with the people, especially the workers, farmers, fisherfolk, and urban poor on how to begin our just transition. Empowering the youth and those most vulnerable with knowledge is also a key part of ensuring active citizen participation in climate policy building. We also need our national leaders to echo the voices of the youth and the environmental defenders and truly demand climate justice not just through words but also through actions by putting a stop to the imperialist plunder of our lands. Carbon majors need to drastically reduce their carbon dioxide emissions with concrete plans and not just say net-zero by a date that’s too far away as if it’s a magic wand that answers everything. All this, and more, is needed if we want to survive.