Born in 2002 in Atlacomulco, Mexico, Xiye Bastida experienced climate change early in life. From the ages of 10 to 13, Xiye lived through an extreme drought, followed by, in 2015, extreme flooding in her hometown of San Pedro Tultepec. Shortly after the floods, Xiye’s family immigrated to New York City to start again – a migration forced by climate change. 

Xiye Bastida presentation on the TED MainStage, as part of TED2020: Uncharted. July 09, 2020. Photo courtesy of TED.

In New York, Xiye enrolled in The Beacon School, where she joined an environmental club that later staged protests and lobbied for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and the Dirty Buildings Bill. The CLCPA became law in New York state in 2019, setting goals for the state to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and then to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050. The Dirty Buildings Bill also became law, requiring owners of residential and commercial buildings of more than 25,000 square feet to cut their emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Both were part of the NYC Green New Deal, designed to help the city comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.

In 2018, she was invited to the 9th United Nations World Urban Forum, where she spoke about indigenous cosmology and received the “Spirit of the UN” award. Then, hearing about Greta Thunberg’s climate strikes, Xiye became inspired to hold her own. On March 15, 2019, she led students in the first major climate strike in New York City. Her protest quickly grew, becoming the Fridays For Future youth climate strike movement. As of time of writing, the movement has spread to 7,500 cities with over 14,000,000 participants across all continents. 

Xiye is also active in the People’s Climate Movement and the Re-Earth Initiative, both of which she holds leadership positions. She also launched a youth activism training program to expand the climate justice movement. Xiye and her work have been featured in the documentaries We Rise (Teen Vogue, 2019) and the forthcoming Imagine the Future (2040 Film, 2020) as well as the anthology All We Can Save.

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