We’re on a mission to help build a world that’s kinder and greener for the planet, animals, and for future generations. But we can’t do it alone. Vision of a Kinder, Greener World is a new series on our blog featuring interviews with changemakers, thought leaders, artists, and everyone in between sharing what they’re doing to make a better world a reality. No matter who you are or what you do, we believe everyone can be part of making a world that’s better for everything. Optimism isn’t just for dreamers.
Advisor, researcher, and youth empowerment advocate, Okezue Bell, is on a mission to inspire people of any age to build a planet positive future – all by the age of 15. Okezue is one of the inaugural members of our Sustainability and Health Council and quickly expanded his role to help form the Gen Z panel, a group of driven young people advising us on ways to build a green future for generations to come.
Okezue’s work spans wide: from conducting research alongside MIT and Harvard professors on neuromedical projects, to founding his own company in partnership with IBM, to hosting student workshops to find climate solutions. He’s expanded his advising work beyond Perfect Day to companies like Shiok Meats, evolvetogether, and more. Get to know Okezue and his inspiring vision for what the world will look like in 2050.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m 15 years old (16 in a month!) and a junior at Moravian Academy High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania who is passionate about youth empowerment, social/environmental justice, and technology. In 2022, I was 1 of 81 students worldwide named an MIT-Research Science Institute (RSI) Scholar, which is considered the most prestigious research program for high school students worldwide.
My work has also been recognized at international science fairs and conferences globally and I have spoken at Web Summit, the world’s largest technology conference, and Accenture, the National Symposium in Humanities and Sciences (NJSHS), and more.
Perhaps most importantly, I’m an ardent advocate for both musical art and justice.My goal is to bring sustainability to the masses, helping companies to reach heavily untapped demographics, and inspire other youth to do so. My student workshops and meet-ups have reached an estimated 50,000+ young people.
When I’m not at a computer or the lab (or drinking boba and/or catching up on Stranger Things), I enjoy playing the violin, and I performed at Carnegie Hall in February of this year!
What inspired you to join the Sustainability and Health Council?
I previously worked with The Urgent Company, and later transitioned into Perfect Day, to join their inaugural Sustainability and Health Advisory Council. Not only was advising alongside amazing sustainability advocates from Leonardo DiCaprio to Dariush Mozaffarian enticing prospect to a high school student, but I also realized that this would be a powerful avenue to leverage my perspective as a young person to help bring animal-free dairy products to Gen Z, the future consumers of the food industry.
By 2050, what does a kinder, greener world look like to you?
I hope in 2050 we will see a lot of the current-day climate innovations that are in research and development phases being implementedand the public will become well educated and seamlessly integrate in new systems and closed-loop behaviors.
In 2050, I hope to see solar panels replacing surfaces with typically high solar reflectance, such as mirrors and windows, and a stable, accessible market for electric vehicles and charging stations. Most importantly, I hope by then we will have started to see recessions in climate change and environmental/ecological destruction. We will be able to rebuild communities and ecosystems, and perhaps even design new ones. This success and development should be shared with the world, not just those who live in a certain country or are of certain socioeconomic status. I hope for 2050 we have an accessible, green, and kind world.
What is something you wish more people knew about? Tell us why.
Hmmm… I actually have no idea! Perhaps to invest in the youth, as we are the future!
My journey towards innovation hasn’t always been easy. As a young person, I’ve been told “no” many times, and I’ve had to use it as motivation! As much as I seem “smart” or “talented” or any of the other buzzwords, my experiences have not been a series of yesses and easy wins; there aren’t that many hands-on opportunities for young people in STEM and deep tech, so I had to create my own! I think this is important for people to know that I’m not necessarily an anomaly, I’m just one of the ambitious young people out there who was lucky enough to find people that were willing to take a chance on me.
Five years from now, what do you hope to accomplish?
I hope to reach 600,000 youth through my workshops and meet-ups by the time I’m 20. I know it sounds like a lofty goal, but I’m up for it. Outside of that, I aspire to take the sustainable product advising I’ve been doing and translate it into a large and traceable impact. I want to be a driving force that gets animal-free products into U.S. food suppliers worldwide. I believe I’m setting myself up to accomplish these goals! Ultimately, I want to be a part of the solution to climate change, especially when it comes to food and agriculture, from both the consumer acceptance and scientific and academic side.
What’s your favorite dairy product (that you can’t wait to be available animal-free!)?
I know the obvious answer would be ice cream (The Urgent Company is delicious, by the way), but I’d have to say cheese. There’s just so much you can do with it, and so many different types. Imagine being able to produce any type of cheese, aged or not, instantaneously, without milking a cow. It would be awesome. And delicious!
We are inspired by Okezue’s and our other Gen Z panel members’, Rania Hashim and Sofia Sanchez, vision of greener world. Their passion and drive will make this world become reality. Whose perspective do you want to hear? Leave us a comment below.
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