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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Bella Pick

Sophia Mathur: Youth activist with a fresh perspective on climate change solutions

Mar 18, 2021

Sophia Mathur

Bella Pick is an HBA Candidate pursuing a combined degree with business and English literature and is a member of the HBA Sustainability Certificate.

Sophia Mathur, a thirteen-year-old climate activist, provided a fresh, youthful, and relatable outlook on climate change at the recent Worldchangers event for HBA Sustainability Certificate students. Regarded by some as the Canadian Greta Thunburg, her activism has taken lift on a global scale. She spoke about her early experiences in activism, which began as long as 10 years ago. She credits her family for her focus on environmental issues, citing that she was always told that the planet is the most important thing.

The focus of Mathur’s talk was her experience organizing climate strikes, starting in 2018. Following Greta Thunburg’s call to action, she began organizing with a few classmates, and eventually, the protests grew into a movement coined Fridays for the Future. Mathur was the first young person outside of Europe to organize climate strikes, which eventually led her to meeting Thunberg herself.

An enticing topic of discussion was Mathur’s involvement in a landmark legal case. She and six other young people are suing the Ontario government, claiming that its weakening of environmental standards violates their Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. The case argues that the 2030 Climate Goals aren’t strong enough, and hearing Mathur recount her concerns about the safety of her own future was particularly telling about the pessimism currently plaguing young climate activists. 

Mathur’s story inspired many and left the world in awe. She became the recipient of many climate activism awards, written about in several books, and has been featured on both big and small screens, with her next major appearance being one of eight Canadian activists featured in the documentary The Fight For Tomorrow on Citytv, March 30, 10 p.m. EDT.

While the global climate activism community has had its eyes on Mathur, the students of the Sustainability Certificate were certainly captivated by her story, and the true candour of her storytelling. Her conversation used participatory methods, encouraging attendees to get up and dance at points, as well as offering suggestions about how to get involved and make a difference as a young person. Not only did Mathur make her presentation informative, but she was sure to make it interactive and interesting as well. 

Students were able to leave Mathur’s talk with a renewed hope for the future, and a clear picture of what the younger generation’s approach to climate change might become.