Sophia Kianni Has Advice for Budding Climate Activists

To the next generation following her, Climate Cardinals founder Sophia Kianni, 21, shares words of encouragement: “We need more imperfect climate activists”

  • Delaney McPherson
  • Next Generation
  • Jul 04, 2023

WHEN VISITING IRAN from her childhood home in Virginia, Sophia Kianni was struck by how many climate resources were only available in English—making them difficult to access for her Farsi-speaking family members.

That visit inspired the then-18-year-old to create Climate Cardinals, an online resource for which volunteers have translated climate change information into more than 100 languages, from Albanian to Yoruba.

Now 21, Kianni is an activist and a student at Stanford University majoring in Science, Technology and Society. “I’m really interested in how tech can be used to expedite the work people do in the climate and conservation movement,” she says.

Kianni understands the power of engaging people online. She has more than 200,000 followers across her social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn), where she shares information about climate change, mental health and more. And her 2019 TED Talk at the Countdown Summit in Norway has more than 2 million views on the TED Talk website.

In a few years, Kianni has become a formidable advocate for the planet. In 2020, she was named to the United Nation’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, making her the youngest person ever appointed.

“When I first started getting involved, I [messaged] every climate activist in existence to see how I could work with them and get involved in their projects,” says Kianni. Now she’s a leader other young people look to for inspiration. “Reach out to people you’re inspired by," she says.

“A fear of failure is what prevents people from getting involved. We need more imperfect climate activists.” —Sophia Kianni

More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

See Last Issue's Next Generation »
Blog: Stand with Youth and Wildlife for Climate Action »
Blog: Young Leaders Converge and Skill-Up to Shift the Power at the 2023 Power Shift Convergence »

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