Sagarika is a high school student living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and founder/CEO of Kids4abetterworld - an innovative ”Kids for Kids” technology platform that aims to educate, motivate and activate children to conserve natural resources, protect biodiversity and positively impact climate change.
K4Bworld conducts awareness workshops on sustainability, recycling & waste management projects, beach and desert clean ups and projects related to marine conservation. The organisation enables children to connect and drive sustainability projects in their own community.
Sagarika is a Climate Adviser with CRIN (Child Rights international Network) and a Youth Ambassador with Azraq ME – a leading marine conservation NGO in the UAE. She is also a member of the Earth Prize Youth Board. Her work has been widely recognised in the UAE and globally by the UNEP.
What is something adults do not understand about youth? What is a common misconception they have about young people?
Adults need to understand that many decisions that they take impact us youth. We are the future generation and have a right to be included in the Climate discussions. We have a right to voice our opinions and drive changes in policies that affect us. Adults often disregard youth voices and the impact of our work. This has to change.
What was the first moment of enlightenment that encouraged you to take action for the society you live in?
I have always had a great love for animals and nature and when I was around 10 years old, I was shocked to watch a NatGEO video on whales which had washed up onshore as a result of an oil spill and turtles found dead with plastic in their belly. I could not understand how our actions as humans were causing so much harm to the environment. This sparked a desire to protect our environment and make a difference to our planet.
What were the difficulties you faced at the beginning of everything? How did you overcome them?
The most difficult challenge I faced was to convince other children to get involved with our environmental projects. I found that most children do not realise that climate change will impact our future most of all and we have to be better educated and better prepared to fight it. I realized that most children will not care about protecting our environment unless they begin to love nature and feel responsible for it. This begins with changing the way we live today. Climate education can help address this challenge.
What is your advice for young people who want to make a positive impact? How should they begin?
My advice would be to start where you are, use what you have and do what you can. The important thing is to think deeply about the world around us and start to notice where we can make a difference, even if it's in a small way. When all of us begin to think this way, we will have the power to change the world.
What would you like to tell decision-makers?
View every young person as a change-maker. Listen to our voices and respect our views, and most of all, do not forget to include us in decisions that impact our future.
Copyright: Sagarika Sriram, photo courtesy: Sagarika Sriram