Charlene Tjahaja is a passionate youth advocate based in Indonesia who strongly believes in the integration of technology and impact capital to advance sustainable agriculture. She seeks to build collective census towards unsustainable agriculture practices, and food insecurity, through organizing a hydroponics community, a hydroponics organization and food research programmes. With a passion for cooking, vegetables and sustainability, Charlene is determined to make a change.
Growing up, one of the biggest life lessons for Charlene is not to take things for granted. There was one time when she was 10 when she had a bottle of gelatine which her mom purchased. She would leave the cap unscrewed, play with it and misplace it. However, there was a time when she needed to use it for a birthday cake, and she could not find it. She then tried to purchase it again and no matter when she went, she was unable to find it in the moment of need.
In high school, Charlene still actively pursues baking, however, she has also picked up other interests such as biology, fundraising and hydroponics. Thus, she now engages in science club, research programmes, MUN awareness club, student council as well as continuing to pursue her passion for food and agriculture in her hydroponics club. This club has raised awareness and introduced sustainable agriculture for her peers, who still do not understand the importance of sustainable farming. Furthermore, to scale impact in the real world, she launched Hydroponics for Health as her first step. Through this initiative, her team has taken hydroponics outside of her school, built systems and taught it in underprivileged communities to encourage healthier eating habits while still being able to source nutritious food sustainably.
For her work in environment and sustainability, Charlene became the first Youth Fellow from Indonesia at Learning Planet, a joint partnership between UNESCO and Learning Planet Institute, and she will also be co-organizing the inaugural Learning Planet Challenge.
After graduating high school, Charlene wishes that sustainable agriculture becomes a bigger community and people can start to understand the impact of her movement. Charlene also hopes to study agricultural genetic engineering to make farming more sustainable so that everyone has opportunities to have fresh produce, and perhaps found her own agri-tech or food-tech start-up.