Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Sophia Kianni is a 19-year-old climate change activist from McLean, Virginia. Her life as an activist began six years ago when she visited her extended family in Iran, and noticed how bad the pollution was. She decided to research the Middle East’s climate crisis and found out that the temperature in the Middle East was rising two times more than it should. When she spoke to her relatives about the climate crisis, and they knew nothing about it, the idea of becoming a climate activist sparked.
To start advocating for climate change, Sophia submitted an opinion based article for Teen Vogue and got it published. Her love for journalism led to her fellowship at PBS- Student Reporting Lab (SRL)’s program that trains students on how to produce stories. At SRL, Sophia learned how to create a compelling narrative, conduct interviews, and edit videos. As a fellow at PBS-SRL, she worked on projects related to first time voting and opposing political ideologies.
To share her voice and passion as a climate activist, Sophia has spoken publicly about climate change, worked with various organizations and been quoted by media outlets such as The Washington Post and CNN. To make climate education more accessible, she founded Climate Cardinals which is a non-profit youth led organization that provides climate information in over 105 languages. Recently, Sophia was invited to join the United Nations Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change which counsels the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez on climate issues.
Sophia believes citizens have the responsibility to vote for officials who are going to effect change. At the same time, she urges politicians to implement progressive policies and have climate scientists involved in policymaking in order to make effective policies that will fight against global warming. Moreover, she thinks that it is important for adults to give youth the opportunity to share ideas and spotlight different youth activists. “As much as I like and respect Greta, there are other teenagers who are advocating for the same things that she does yet, they don’t get spotlighted by the news. I think it is important that the media spotlight them too.”
Sophia already has plans for her future. She is currently majoring in Public Policy Analysis and hopes to get either a masters or law degree. In the interim, she plans to continue with Climate Cardinal and the UN Youth Advisory Group. She has also expressed interest in increasing youth engagement by offering opportunities for teenagers to get involved in climate change and activism.
Her words of advice to young girls and boys who want to get involved in activism; “Just go for it. Put yourself out there, reach out to other activists who inspire you. Reach out to organizations that you want to work with. It’s important to get involved. It will add value to others and their work.”