Meet India’s youngest climate reality leader
Editor's note: This article was written by Sankalp Sharma from India, one of the four delegates selected to share their success story during GYV’s session during the 2017 summer Youth Assembly at the United Nations. Find out how he made it below, in his own words.
How It All Started
Watching Al Gore’s Ted Talk on YouTube fueled my love and concern for the environment. It was Aug. 20, 2016, when I had successfully completed my leadership training in Houston and was awarded the title of Climate Reality Leader. The title was, and still is, important and motivating for me. It gave me the drive to do more as a young leader in my country.
I spent the month of September preparing a PowerPoint Presentation. Over the course of a few weeks, I practiced presenting it over and over until I felt I was ready.
What better way than to start at my own school? I started off with a presentation for middle school students and their teachers and followed that with a presentation for the high school students and their respective teachers. Both had audiences of approximately 275 people. I received feedback from my teachers and students and improved by applying their feedback to better my presentation. I continuously improvised my presentation according to the audience’s age group and background. I had separate presentations for school students, college students, corporate organizations, and the Indian army and veterans.
The Big Break
It was Jan. 27, 2017, when the CEO and Founder of Walk For Water called me for a meeting. After a positive interaction, he offered me the post of the State Head of Karnataka. I was rather overwhelmed, as the heads of each state were all senior to me in age and experience. However, I took the opportunity and swore to do my best as a Climate Reality Leader.
Every day, I would visit influencers, celebrities, actors, Ms. India’s, sports persons, and government officials, explaining the Climate Reality Project and the Walk For Water Campaign. I managed to successfully involve various personalities, such as Sunil Gavaskar, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupati, and various others from the glamor field.
Making a team of leaders
To lead the state for this global campaign, I decided to make it completely youth-driven. Thus, I started an internship program for student leaders across my state. I received a massive response. After thorough deliberations, I selected 15 young leaders from colleges across Karnataka who hoped to make a difference. I gave them weekly tasks to spread awareness, attract sponsors, meet government leaders/politicians, and partner with companies and non-governmental organizations.
Rotary Club Bangalore
The Rotary Club is one of the most esteemed clubs in India. It consists of senior corporate officials (such as CEOs and MDs) of various International, well-established organizations. These officials work in the social work field, promoting education for the poor, installation of e-toilets, planting of trees, segregation of waste, development of clean water drinking facilities, etc. They work in these fields on a large-scale basis by endorsing projects. I was called by the Whitefield Central Bangalore branch as a chief speaker for their special meeting. There, I delivered my version of Sir Al Gore’s presentation as well as a presentation of my journey becoming the head of the Walk for Water Campaign. I was then awarded a certificate of appreciation by the president of The Rotary Club Whitefield Central for my presentation and continuous work as a Climate Reality Leader.
Shishu Mandir, School for The Underprivileged & Corporate Organization
I was invited to organize an event on “The Importance Of Water” and “Climate Change” for the students of The Shishu Mandir School and the corporate employees of KPMG Organization. This was an event for 450 students from the 1st Grade to the 10th Grade and 75-100 Corporate Officials.
The Indian Army
I was deeply honored to give a talk on Climate Change and Water Conservation to the soldiers of the Indian Army. I spoke to more than two hundred soldiers and ten senior army mentors/soldiers, addressing some of the most pressing issues about Climate Change.
From becoming an influencer to a Chief Guest
I was invited as the chief guest to the Aryan Institute for a drawing competition with the theme “Save Water, Save Life”. I closely examined each drawing/painting and chose the winners of the 3 categories. I also gave a talk about the importance of water.
Student Ambassador of India
I am presently the Student Ambassador Of India to the University of Idaho through the company Sellfys. Sellfys is a company that helps students come up with business ideas as entrepreneurs and also helps with India-USA student exchange programs.
Radio Interview/Talk show
I was invited by Red FM 93.5 for an interview about my work with Climate Change. I spoke about the Climate Reality Project and the Walk for Water Campaign, and how I am continuously working to save our planet, which inhabits around 8 million people.
Human Rights India
In May, I was shortlisted and appointed to work with the Human Rights Sanrakshan Sanstha, which is affiliated with The United Nations, as the International Coordinator for India. Since then, I have been fighting for Indians deprived of their Human Rights.
The Aryan Young Achiever Award
I was awarded The Aryan Young Achiever’s Award by The Aryan Institute of Teacher Training. I was nominated and eventually selected for this award by a group of 3,000 teachers from across India.
Rotary Club Bangalore Indranagar
I was invited to Rotary Club Indranagar as a chief guest, where I spoke about my journey and gave my Climate Reality and Walk for Water Presentations.
An Inconvenient Truth Sequel
Sir Al Gore, The 45th vice president of the United States, won the Nobel Prize for his outstanding Book “An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It,” which was released in conjunction with the film “An Inconvenient Truth.” It was published by Rodale Press in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. The sequel of this award-winning book was recently released of 2017 and will feature my photos and the information on the work I have been doing as the youngest Climate Reality Leader of India.
Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV