Climate change doesn’t discriminate, but systems created by people do. Policies and other decisions put some closer to the frontlines of disaster than others: communities of color breathe more toxic fumes, people with disabilities have no easy way out of increasingly common natural disasters, and women and children are at a higher risk of dying from the effects of climate change.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Every year, Grist compiles a list of emerging leaders — the Grist 50 — working toward a sustainable, equitable future. Meet five environmental justice advocates from this year’s list who are challenging those biased systems, righting wrongs, and ensuring that marginalized communities are at the center of climate solutions.

  1. In Charlotte, Sol Nation founder Nakisa Glover turns community members’ art and conversation into on-the-ground change.
  2. Huron, California, Mayor Rey León builds new green infrastructure in his rural, predominantly Latino farming town.
  3. 17-year-old Elsa Mengistu works with youth climate movement Zero Hour to center marginalized youth voices — after all, they’ve got the biggest stake in the fate of the planet.
  4. Like the Green New Deal? You’ll love Adrien Salazar’s even more progressive plan for New York, which would direct state funds toward neighborhoods that need it most.
  5. Rev. Mariama White-Hammond opened her own church in Boston to foster connection between communities, in the environmental justice movement and beyond.

Excited about the future? There’s more where that came from.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.