2022 – Rena Kawasaki (17), Japan
"My ultimate goal is not to only ensure my generation has better opportunities, but that future generations have them too."
Rena’s work with the Japanese government to include young people’s voices in governmental operations, by providing direct access to political representatives, has led to her inclusion within the government’s major Tokyo Bay Environmental Social Governance infrastructure project, which is aimed at creating a sustainable city that combines nature and convenience over the next 50 to 100 years and will impact 37 million people in the region.
Rena’s leading youth participation work resulted in her invitation to participate in the ‘Niihama project’, where she created a QR code that would ensure that young people’s voices are incorporated in governmental decisions. This idea was adopted by the Mayor of Niihama and will impact the entire population of the city.
As the leading youth advocate in her country, Rena was also recently appointed as the youngest ever Chief Future Officer for a bio-fuelled jet company in Japan.
The International Children’s Peace Prize, the most important youth award worldwide, is an initiative of the international children’s rights organisation KidsRights.
The KidsRights Expert Committee selected Rena as a winner from 175 young changemaker applicants with entries from 46 countries around the world. By winning the award, she has gained an international platform through which she will share her message to inspire an audience of hundreds of millions of people globally.
The International Children’s Peace Prize 2022 Winner, Rena Kawasaki
Rena Kawasaki was eight years old when she learned that there were children across the world who were unable to access education due to the political situations in their countries. Rena became determined to take action to help improve this. She began to participate in various volunteering projects to affect real change in other countries, but quickly realised that young people in Japan also face similar issues with many struggling to express individuality and express themselves.
At the young age of 14 years old, she launched Earth Guardians Japan, an organisation that aims to create a new system, allowing children to be the change they want to see in the world. One of the ways in which this was achieved was by connecting schools and local political representatives via virtual meetings. In addition, the use of an online platform called ‘polichat’ (a small platform) was utilised to help young people reach out directly to their political representatives when they wanted, encouraging young Japanese children to become more involved in politics and the decisions that affect their future.
Rena’s organisation is also focused on aiding the environment with projects such as river water cleaning in Juso, Osaka Japan. They also run a youth project funding expo, which is a great opportunity for passionate student entrepreneurs to propose and secure investment in sustainability projects. As a result of Rena’s work, her organisation is one of the few youth organisations that is officially working with the Japanese government ministry of environment to include the voice of young people in governmental operations.
Rena is known as the leading youth advocate in Japan which led to her being appointed as the youngest Chief Future Officer for a bio-fuelled jet company in Japan. Owing to this achievement Tokyo’s government approached her to advise their team on reforming the city’s region, which will involve Japan’s biggest shopping mall organisation and powerplant company. Rena is also working on the Tokyo eSG Project, which envisages urban development looking ahead to 50 to 100 years. The purpose of the project is to create a sustainable city that combines nature and convenience and is estimated to impact the entire city of 37 million people. Rena was also invited to participate in the Niihama project where she created a QR code that would incorporate young people’s voices in decisions. This idea was adopted by the Mayor of Niihama and will impact the entire population of the city.
Rena’s ultimate goal is not to only ensure her generation has better opportunities, but that future generations have them too.
The International Children’s Peace Prize Ceremony
The prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize was launched in 2005 during the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, chaired by Mikhail Gorbachev. Since then, the prize has been presented by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate every year. In 2022 the 18th International Children’s Peace Prize was presented by Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2011.
During a grand ceremony held in The Hague, Netherlands, Tawakkol Karman, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, presented the International Children’s Peace Prize, the Nkosi statuette, a study and care grant for Rena’s education and a project fund of €100,000.
Half of the project fund will go to the winner’s theme, and the other half will be invested by KidsRights in the projects of other young changemakers fighting for children’s rights.
After receiving the prestigious award, Rena Kawasaki, said: “I believe this award is an important sign for Japanese youth, highlighting that our voices are considered significant on the world stage. It gives me the further strength to fight until every voice is heard and valued.”
Marc Dullaert, Founder and Chair of the KidsRights Foundation said: “Rena is an extraordinary pioneer in her country, ensuring the voices of young people are heard and converting this into tangible impact and better opportunities for both her generation and future generations.
Education and the environment are of paramount importance to Rena and are topics she sets high on the agenda, in a unique way, in her society and globally.”
The International Children’s Peace Prize highlights the remarkable achievements of youngsters fighting courageously for children’s rights across the world. Previous winners include Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg.