Teen activist is making climate change resources accessible to non-English speakers

Sophia Kianni is a 19-year-old climate activist, founder of Climate Cardinals and the youngest member of the United Nations Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change.

Kianni is fighting to correct the huge accessibility gap in climate change resources. When the U.N. publishes some of the most up-to-date and promising data on the climate crisis it only does so in six languages. But there are at least 7,000 spoken languages, which means millions of people don’t have access to this world-saving information.

Climate Cardinals is an international nonprofit that translates pertinent documents relating to global warming.

“Our mission is to make climate education more accessible to non-English speakers,” Kianni told In The Know.

In sixth grade, Kianni learned about climate change but she also got another major life lesson. The adults she looked up to really didn’t seem concerned about the seriousness of the matter. But their obliviousness just made Kianni’s mission clearer.

“It really made me realize that I could be the youngest person in the room and yet I can be more informed on these issues than others,” Kiani said. “When I realized that I felt like it was my responsibility to advocate for climate change.”

But there was another early experience that solidified her responsibility to others. When Kianni visited her parents’ home country of Iran, she was struck by how little people there knew about the climate crisis.

“Climate change is disproportionately affecting the middle east and temperatures there are rising more than twice the global average,” she explained. “I decided to translate climate information to teach them because I realized there was very little information in Farsi which is their native language.”

While volunteering, she also noticed that climate advocacy groups didn’t cater to non-English speakers. These experiences led Kianni to found Climate Cardinals. In a few years, the organization has recruited over 8,000 volunteers to tackle translating climate change documents.

“It’s so important to translate climate information so that the people who are being worst affected by climate change have information so that they can learn about what’s happening to them and they can learn about how we can combat this issue,” Kianni said.

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If you enjoyed this story, check out In The Know’s other profiles on Gen Z climate changemakers.

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