World Population Day 2024: Change Champions

To mark World Population Day 2024 on 11 July, we are giving awards to individuals and organisations across the globe for their progressive and inspiring work defending the environment, promoting reproductive rights and enlightening the public about the challenges we face and the solutions available!

The United Nations’ (UN) annual World Population Day focuses on the urgency and importance of population issues and solutions. This year, we are holding an online event (featuring one of this year’s award winners) celebrating Women in Conservation, we’ll scrutinise the UN’s brand-new population projections and we are announcing our new group of Change Champions award winners.

Learn more about the different categories and meet our 2024 Change Champions below!


Dr. Joan Regina Castro

Dr. Joan Castro is a public health specialist with over 20 years of experience working on sustainable and community development initiatives in rural and urban settings. She currently heads up our most recent Empower to Plan partner, PATH Foundation Philippines, Inc., whose mission is to alleviate poverty, improve health, and promote environmentally sustainable development. The organisation has been involved in trailblazing work in Population Health Environment.

Dr. Joan will also feature as a panellist in our World Population Day 2024 webinar, Women in Conservation!

I am honored to receive this Lifetime Award. This award affirms our decades of work advocating for the integrated Population Health Environment approach that puts the wellbeing of the people and ecosystems front and center. Thank you, PATH Foundation Philippines, Inc.! Thank you, Population Matters!”

Dr. Joan Castro

Family Choice Champion

Miley Cyrus

Actor and singer/songwriter Miley Cyrus is one of the most high-profile celebrities to publicly announce that she doesn’t want to have children due to the state of the planet. At PM, we feel it’s important that people with international recognition have these conversations in public spaces, helping to reduce the stigma around those who choose not to have children and giving voice to countless people who feel the same.

For that reason, Miley Cyrus is our Family Choice Champion 2024!

The earth is angry. We’ve been doing the same thing to the earth that we do to women. We just take and take and expect it to keep producing. And it’s exhausted. It can’t produce. We’re getting handed a piece-of-s*** planet, and I refuse to hand that down to my child. Until I feel like my kid would live on an earth with fish in the water, I’m not bringing in another person to deal with that.”

Miley Cyrus

Young Campaigner

Hadiqa Bashir

Hadiqa Bashir is a 21-year-old feminist activist from the tribal regions of Pakistan. At 11 years old, she boldly declined a marriage proposal, igniting a fervent dedication to combat early and forced marriages. Hadiqa is the founder of Girls United for Human Rights (GUHR), challenging entrenched patriarchal norms and championing the rights of girls and women.

Hadiqa is one of Population Matters’ Choice Ambassadors, our group of young people who do amazing campaign work all over the world.

Hadiqa Bashir

My personal journey as a survivor of early and forced marriage fuels my passion for change, exemplifying the transformative power of youth-led activism. Thank you so much for this amazing news! I am truly honoured and delighted to receive the Young Campaigner Change Champion Award from Population Matters. It is an incredible privilege to join such a distinguished group of awardees.”

Hadiqa Bashir



Anna Hughes is the Director of Flight Free UK, an organisation that challenges people to take a year off flying to reduce emissions and shift the norm away from aviation. Anna does fantastic work via social media and blogs to promote alternative travel and make people realise the amazing benefits.

 It’s a great honour for Flight Free UK to be given the award for Best Online Campaign. We work hard to inspire people to take positive climate action by reducing the amount they fly, and it’s very validating for this work to be recognised by Population Matters as benefitting both people and planet. The best campaigns show how taking climate action doesn’t have to be a sacrifice, and just as a greater awareness of the issues of population lead to happier, healthier communities, with greater choice, more access to healthcare and services, and more empowerment, so choosing to travel in low-carbon ways gives the traveller a more enriching, more relaxing and better travel experience. We know that the solutions to the climate crisis have benefits that go far beyond the emissions reductions, and we will continue to inform and inspire people to give flight-free travel a try, for their own sake as well as for our planet’s future.” 

Anna Hughes

Women’s Empowerment Champion

Joan Kembabazi

Joan is the founder and CEO of Gufasha Girl-Child Foundation, a community-based organisation in Uganda committed to implementing projects that empower girls and young mothers. It is named after Joan’s best childhood friend, Gufasha Moreen, who was forced into marriage at the age of 13, had to leave school as a result, and tragically died during childbirth. Joan has taken her message all over the world, most recently attending the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women where she moderated an event for UNICEF.

Joan is one of Population Matters’ Choice Ambassadors, joined as a panellist for our World Population Day 2023 webinar, Is Education the Magic Bullet? and featured in our Spring 2023 Magazine.

I am so honoured and humbled about this awesome recognition and award. This award means a lot to me as a grassroots girls’ and women’s empowerer.”

Joan Kembabazi


Daniel Cáceres Bartra

Daniel Cáceres Bartra is a marine conservationist and environmental advocate from Peru. He represents the Sustainable Ocean Alliance in Latin America and co-founded the Taking Care of the Ocean collective. His work focuses on marine biodiversity, ocean health, and sustainable practices to protect our oceans.

He recently interviewed legendary Marine Biologist Sylvia Earle onstage at the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit 2024, where he engaged her in this fascinating conversation about the impact of population growth.

Thank you so much for this amazing award, I accept very happily and I know it will give the legitimacy to continue to speak on the opportunity that we have to prevent further loss of biodiversity.” 

Daniel Cáceres Bartra

Shine a light (Best film, book or TV programme)

Bella Lack

Bella Lack is a longtime young activist who started environmental activism at the young age of 12 (now 21). She is the author of The Children of the Anthropocene: Stories from the Young People at the Heart of the Climate Crisis, a book highlighting the youth globally who, while at the frontline of the environmental crisis, they are combatting it. She is also a co-founder of Reserva, a youth-led biodiversity conservation organization … empowering ‘young people to make a measurable difference for threatened species and habitats through conservation, education, and storytelling’.

This was so unexpected and so very kind of you – thank you.” 

Bella Lack

Campaigning Group

McGill Youth Advisory Delegation

The McGill Youth Advisory Delegation (MYAD) do a lot of advocacy work representing young people at UN events around population and development issues, particularly sexual and reproductive health and rights and climate adaptation.

I have received the award, and I must say that it is a magnificent trophy, both aesthetically and symbolically. Once again, I reiterate our sincere appreciation on behalf of MYAD for your consideration and efforts towards encouraging youth movements. Be assured that it will further push me personally to pursue this everlasting campaign to drive things forward.”

Othmane Souissi, UN Campaigning Officer


Alice Morley

Alice undertook a 10k run for us running through Roundhay Park in Leeds, UK, back in April, raising nearly £400. Alice is an inspiration not just because of her physical exertion, but she also truly believes in our work. Thanks, Alice!

Huge thanks to you and the team at PM for supporting me in the run up (pun intended!) to the 10k, and afterwards as well. Quite a few of the people who sponsored me said they hadn’t heard of PM before so hopefully they’ll continue to stay updated with PM news and maybe even become members themselves!”

Alice Morley

Social Impact Storytelling

Veronika Perková

Veronika is an environmental journalist and activist. She explores the intersection of reproductive justice and conservation through her podcast, Nature Solutionaries.

I am so honored and touched. I have never received any award for my work so this means the world to me. Thank you so much.” 

Veronika Perková

The awards are made with recycled acrylic from Midton. These awards minimise our environmental footprint and showcase our commitment to sustainability.


Feeling inspired by our Change Champions? Join us today and become part of the movement for a better future for people and nature!


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