Inquisitiveness and the zeal to do something different has been a driving force behind 17-year-old Sankalp Sharma’s fight for a greener planet. The youngster from Bengaluru has been participating in various school clubs that work to resolve environment-related issues and has even won the green Olympiad.
During various school meets or sports day, he would clean the trash left by students. And in class, his curiosity towards climate change topics made him ask a hundred questions to his teachers. So he decided to find a solution by researching on the subject. At his age, he has already addressed thousands of people to raise awareness about water conservation. He has given presentations on the climate crisis in schools, colleges, corporate organisations and to the Indian Army. He has met influencers and spread the word of climate crisis to many.
Sharma has organised events like the Grand Water Conservation Walk in Bengaluru with over 1,500 participants supporting the cause.
In recognition of his efforts, Sharma was selected as the youngest member of the Climate Reality Project Training in Houston, Texas in August, 2016. It is an initiative of Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore.
He has been mentored by several esteemed personalities like Sir AL Gore himself – the 45th US Vice President, Robert Swan – first man to walk on the North and South Pole and Dr Robert Bullard – Father of Environmental Justice, to name a few. He has also been invited to represent India at the UN Youth Assembly Conference in New York which will explore sustainable ways to manage climate change and the water crisis the world is facing.
Talking about the driving force behind his cause, Sharma says, “I have always been curious about global warming, where we go wrong and how badly it is affecting us. I tried asking a lot of questions but of course, no one really knows the answer. So I decided to work towards bringing awareness about it on my own. I was selected by the climate reality project and did small campaigns in India to raise awareness about water conservation and climate change. Later, I was selected for climate reality leadership training program in US and it was an absolute dream come true. I received training from Al Gore himself!”
Sharma has also prepared a presentation to address the need of the hour. He shares, “The first part of the presentation talks about the climate and the various problems countries are facing. There is a need to wake people up and recognise these problems as vital. Second part of my presentation talks about the things that these countries are doing; for instance: giving a boost to solar energy. Third is an introduction of who I am and what I have been doing as a climate reality leader to inspire others to do the same. As part of the project, we have worked towards restoring 12,000 dried up lakes across India.”
However, the young boy still struggles with people taking him seriously owing to his age. “A lot of times, when I get asked to showcase my presentation at Rotary clubs, IT companies or such places, people hear about what I do first and get extremely enthusiastic about it but when they hear my age, they become reluctant. I wish people would just hear what I have to say first,” he sighs.
But he has not allowed this setback to deter him and continues to spread awareness. He says the simple efforts that we make will have a large impact on our lives later. He elaborates, “It is minute things that you do that will make a difference. Like, not letting the tap flow while you brush your teeth. If every person does this, we can save one billion litres of water which is enough for a village for five to six years. Parents should also be teaching their kids to follow simple measures to save our climate.”
Sharma is also participating in International Youth leadership project where the group will clean polluted water in Indonesia and Philippines and try to similar techniques implemented in India. However, a lack of financial resources for this trip meant that Sharma had to use crowdfunding to raise funds. He is doing this through a campaign on Fueladream.com that aims to raise Rs 2 lakh and help him make the trip to the UN Youth Assembly. The campaign got off to a good start and has already raised Rs 73,700 as of June 12 with about 18 funders supporting him. The campaign has another 30 days to go.