Growing up in the most forested region of Kenya, environmental activist Elizabeth Wathuti says she saw the immediate challenge of climate change around her. “It compelled something within myself to do something about climate change,’’ she said during the “Climate Resiliency in Action” panel at the TIME100 Summit Africa in Rwanda’s capital Kigali on Friday.

A driving force behind community-led tree-planting initiatives in Kenya, Wathuti’s work today not only addresses the immediate threats of deforestation, but also promotes a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between environmental health and human wellbeing.

It’s crucial work when considering that “climate change is one of the main challenges that the world faces today,” said environmental activist Eugenia Kargbo, who joined Wathuti alongside TIME’s Editor-in-Chief, Sam Jacobs, to discuss how to preserve the African continent’s rich biodiversity and help uplift communities.

“Africa will experience extreme temperatures and low rainfall in the next few years, according to the IPCC,” Kargbo warned.

But in her role as the chief heat officer in Freetown, Sierra Leone, she’s now helping to identify solutions that can help to reduce the exposure to extreme heat and mitigate the challenges ahead. “Women are the most disproportionately affected by extreme heat, so we have worked to provide solutions to help cool down indoor temperatures and implement Heat Action Plans,” she said.

It’s for this reason that diverse voices are included in climate conversations, she added. ‘’It’s really important that we ensure those who feel the impact are brought into the conversation” Kargbo said.

For the first time ever, TIME has brought its iconic TIME100 franchise to Africa, bringing together international and regional leaders, influencers and visionaries alongside members of the African TIME100 community to a daytime summit to discuss the solutions needed to build a better future and to celebrate their accomplishments at a gala in Kigali.

The TIME100 Summit Africa is sponsored by Visit Rwanda, Kigali International Financial Centre, and RwandAir

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