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"Sometimes you have to burn bridges to light the path of your future. Be unashamed and unapologetic about this," says Healer, Levi Barak Singh.

The 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) was a momentous occasion for Durban. Levi Barak Singh – then in grade 11 – was part of its youth programme.

Concerned about the lack of youth participation from East and Southern Africa, he chatted to a few other young people at the conference, and together they formed the South African Youth Climate Coalition (SAYCC), a movement aimed at mobilising African youth around climate change issues.

Since then, there has been no turning back for Singh, 21. He is the youngest youth advisor to the United Nations Population Fund and he was also a member of the South African delegation to the UN 48th Commission on Population Development.

Last year, as the youth chair of the 7th South African National Aids Conference, he was instrumental in engaging 460 young people from districts where HIV is prevalent, empowering them with social mobilisation and advocacy tools to take back to their respective areas.

Singh is currently studying to become a lawyer, specialising in human rights and international law. “Leaders think of the next election, rather than the next generation. I want to use human rights as a tool to ensure that the rights of people are upheld.

Find Singh on Twitter:@KalnishaSingh