Young Environmental Activist Leading His Community Towards Sustainability


At just 15 years old, Ryan, a Silver Award participant from Indonesia, has an impressive catalogue of  youth-led projects to his name – and is a true champion of the environment. His initiatives in education, sustainability and equality have not only been a force for good in his local community, but have even created impact worldwide.

Whilst participating virtually in the Open Award Centre for his voluntary section, Ryan decided this would be the perfect opportunity to stay motivated with the non-profit he and his friends had started – EMBRACE Youth International. The youth-led organisation aims to promote action-based solutions towards education insufficiency and inequalities.⁠ While on his Award journey, Ryan became the Executive Director of The Green Plate Foundation (formerly The Green Plate Community) – a platform that aims to promote climate and industrial sustainability focusing on mangrove and coral restoration while aiding underprivileged communities in developing sustainable enterprises.

As part of this effort, ‘The Blue Water Project’ involved the Bio Reef Tech Project at Telaga Tiga Warna’s Three Colour Lake in Malang, East Java. Ryan and a group of volunteers planted 200 mangrove trees to protect the environment from abrasion.

The project gained community support, raising 5.75 million rupees (Approx. 377 .00 US Dollars) in fundraising goals. Over 100 young individuals joined Ryan’s initiatives, including ‘Plastic Scholastics’ and ‘The Blue Water Project’, addressing environmental concerns and pioneering sustainability. To date, he and his team have successfully established 4 Bio Reef Techs; in addition to taking an innovative approach to growing coral reefs using coconut shells and certain bacteria.

Over the last couple of years, Ryan and his friends have received various awards in recognition of their determination to make a difference in the world and inspire young people to do the same.

Amidst growing support for his causes, Ryan shared his amazement. He said: “From what started as a small project by a group of teens became a global movement in 11 countries, with over 150+ youth in 9 branches. Reaching more than 10000 people, this movement also earned me both national and international recognition, from being featured in national news Times Indonesia”.

Reflecting on his Award journey, Ryan attributes his success and improved consistency to The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and the many inspiring participants around the world:

This Award really helped me improve my consistency, where I was able to focus on a few things and improve rather than doing lots of things without any progress. I read similar stories of young people doing amazing and inspirational things while doing the Award, from starting a campaign for gender equality to providing free access to healthcare in their community. Hearing stories like this, I was truly inspired, which was why I decided to start my own youth-led organisation called on tackling inequality through education, and this really changed my life.

As impressive as Ryan’s journey has been, it’s not been without adversity and setbacks. When starting EMBRACE Youth International, he faced scepticism from students and teachers. He believes this early adversity only fuelled him and his friends to push on and continue, reaching hundreds of people in his community and beyond.

While the accountability of doing the Award kept Ryan on track to success, he was particularly drawn to the programme to fill what he describes as a lack of direction and guidance with no real mentors to turn to.

Ryan credits the Award with helping him to discover his passions, in particular, activism:

“With this passion of mine, I’m proud to be able to have a place in this world as an activist, exposing me to various opportunities to talk and share my story on radio stations, news outlets, conferences, and even in an upcoming TEDx Talk. I hope to be able to use this platform to advocate for education, equality, and sustainability, and inspire others to do the same.”

Ryan is eager to pursue his Gold Award and is enthusiastic about what lies ahead:  “as I go on this journey, I’m excited to make mistakes, learn from them, and repeat!”