After experiencing the impacts of climate change first hand when Hurricane Irma’s storm surge flooded Miami in 2017, Will Charouhis founded We Are Forces of Nature, a youth-led climate group that seeks to provide climate adaptation and mitigation strategies for coastal areas.
During the pandemic lockdown, Forces of Nature youth volunteers cleaned up six miles of mangrove roots along the Miami shoreline to regenerate growth. That effort eventually led to A Million Mangroves initiative, which helps conserve existing mangroves through cleanups, tree plantings, and research aimed at improving planting success rates.
A firm believer that “innovation, scale, and the human spirit can solve the climate crisis,” Charouhis, 17, is also pioneering research on which mangrove species can best withstand ocean acidification and warming at the A Million Mangroves lab at Miami’s Seaquarium Educational Center. Charouhis has shared his research on mangroves at both the United Nations World Climate Conference in Glasgow and the UN General Assembly in New York, in the hopes of increasing restoration efforts in other coastal communities around the world. His organization has educated 2,500 youth in 16 countries on the benefits of protecting mangroves, and is involved in a collaborative effort to restore mangroves in Central Africa.