Youth Plaintiffs

Navahine youth voices were heard and met with direct action! Their bravery, perseverance and hope secured a climate victory for young people and all people in Hawai‘i, and around the world.

Youth Plaintiff

Kalālapa W.

Age: 20
Hometown: Hāʻena on Kauaʻi and Haleʻiwa on Oʻahu

Kalālapa has dedicated most of her young life to protecting the land, waters, and skies of Hawai‘i. She is a “waterwoman” who has witnessed how beach erosion smothers coral reefs, harms local fish populations, and alters surf breaks. She has experienced the destruction of her community brought by the first documented climate storm in Hawaiʻi dubbed the “Rain Bomb”, sea level rise that has affected her family’s lifeways, and rising temperatures which has impacted edible limu (Hawaiian seaweed). She learned to harvest limu, octopus, and fishes from her elders and is dedicated to protecting these cultural practices for the future generations.

Kalālapa is a leader of her generation in efforts to protect Hawai‘i’s natural resources. She helped found the E Alu Pū Youth Council to inspire young people to “move forward together” in caring for their cultural heritage. She participated in the creation of the Hā‘ena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area, which is critical to sustaining natural resources of her community for future generations.

In May 2023, Kalālapa spoke before a global audience of children’s rights professionals and climate activists at the 40th Anniversary Conference of Child Rights Connect in Geneva, Switzerland. She called on those in power to be honest about the injustices that will fall upon youth across the world if governments do not act to limit warming and act on science. She also recently spoke at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights advocating for the court to use the best available science in their opinion and to take into account the cultural lifeways of Indigenous people and the future for her generation and all who come after.

The state has known for a very long time about the realities of the climate crisis. We need action. We are here to remind them of their legal obligation to the people of Hawai‘i and most importantly its children. We simply have no other choice. Our future is on the line.

—Kalālapa W.