OPINION: Activist Spotlight: Salvador Gómez-Colón

At The World We Want, we believe it is important to spotlight those young changemakers who are making a difference in accelerating progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through the power of words and activism, these people have been making governments, organisations and the public more accountable for their carbon footprint as they look to achieve SDG 13 (Climate Action) by 2030.

Here is just one changemaker who is doing just that through their extensive passion and efforts for preserving the Earth and its many ecosystems for many generations to come. This week, we focus on Salvador Gómez-Colón, who shares a vision of hope for a more sustainable future.

Despite only being born in 2002, Salvador Gómez-Colón has made a huge impact on the world due to his efforts to preserve it. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Gómez-Colón has been making adult leaders stand up and take note of their actions and the damage they are causing to our environment. He believes that collaborative and inclusive efforts will be pivotal if we are to win the battle against climate change and has been very active in ensuring that these words are put into action.

Following the devastating Hurricane María which hit Puerto Rico in 2017, Gómez-Colón realised how important access to clean water and electricity was for the island. To help provide this, he set up the “Light and Hope for Puerto Rico” campaign, which distributed solar-powered lamps and hand-powered washing machines to over 3,500 underserved families in sixteen municipalities around the island, by fundraising as much as $200,000 which has been pivotal in helping many in desperate need of these resources.

The success of the initiative led Gómez-Colón to spearhead several other disaster-relief missions, including in The Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and back in his homeland of Puerto Rico which had been hit by a series of earthquakes in January 2020.

In September 2018, he was also invited to be the keynote speaker of the major summit, Solar Power International held in Anaheim, California, where he delivered an empowering message on the importance of fostering youth resiliency after natural disasters and catastrophes. His speech received many plaudits and recognition.

Gómez-Colón has seen his work recognised by many major international broadcasts and publications including Time Magazine, CNN Business, CNN New Day, The Guardian and The New York Times.

His efforts have been celebrated by many organisations, where Salvador is now a member of Marvel’s Hero Project, while he also received the Diana Award for socio-humanitarian work and the President’s Environmental Youth Award. Salvador’s book, Hurricane: My Story of Resilience, is due to be released later this year cementing his position as an environmental hero.

In January 2020, Gómez-Colón also joined several other young changemakers, including Greta Thunberg, to take part in a panel event where they discussed issues including climate change, the media, politics, and the impact young people can have on the world.

If it were not for the efforts of Salvador, Puerto Rico could have been facing an even greater crisis as many would have no choice but to drink and use unclean water as well as being left without electricity which could have led to many other consequences, reversing many other of the SDGs including health issues, more poverty and impacts to education.

As we are now well into the decade of action, ensuring that we achieve the SDGs by 2030 will be possible if we work collaboratively and innovatively. The work of Salvador Gómez-Colón could be a major step in making these dreams a reality and his efforts should be celebrated and used as a platform to build even more forward-thinking solutions to address climate change and reduce its impact on our world.