Youth rising: Meet 2019's top 30 under 30 sustainability leaders

As world leaders descended upon New York City for the UN Climate Action Summit in September, millions of young people gathered in more than 200 countries on seven continents to make their voices heard. They walked out of their classrooms, their workplaces and their homes to join a 16-year-old Swedish girl in demanding that the climate crisis be treated like the emergency it is.

It’s been just over a year since Greta Thunberg felt compelled to take time off school every Friday to demand more from those in the halls of power. Twelve months later, she may be the highest-profile sustainability leader under 30 (having graced the covers of Time, GQ and Teen Vogue), but she is far from alone in her leadership. Young people are rising.

In Canada and around the globe, youth are stepping up to create a more sustainable world. There are over 1.8 billion people on the planet between the ages of 15 and 30 right now – and they feel more empowered than the generations that came before. “Sixty-one percent believe their generation has more ability to effect change than others,” according to Viacom Velocity’s Power in Progress study, which surveyed 11,000 young people in 10 countries.

Millennials (now the largest generation in the Canadian workforce), as well as up-and-coming Gen Zs (the young professionals who will soon outnumber millennials), are redefining and disrupting the status quo, demanding more equitable, transparent and sustainable workplaces. They’re calling for values-driven companies and brands with purpose. (The “statement of purpose” declaration issued in August by almost 200 influential CEOs is a clear sign that corporations are listening to the drumbeat of shifting paradigms rising from the street).

As North America’s largest voting bloc, millennials and eligible Gen Zs are demanding more from elected politicians. They’re leading differently, too. As Forbes put it, “Having young people lead great change is at least as old as Alexander the Great. But several things have changed since early Greece ruled the world.” Today’s youth are building new power dynamics in collectives that work to empower and transform.

Taking bold and transformative steps to shift the world onto a sustainable path is exactly what the UN set out to do with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015. Purpose-driven corporations, organizations and politicians around the globe have since been incorporating SDGs into their mandates, but as the UN said, “Youth are the torchbearers of the 2030 Agenda – young people all over the world are contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” So, this year Corporate Knights, with support from RBC, thought it was only fitting to ask our 30 under 30 nominees how their work advances the holistic set of sustainability goals.

Given the problems plaguing the planet, it’s not surprising that so many are climate activists, renewable-energy champions, green-city builders and zero-waste advocates. Narrowing the list was tough, but the final roll call of young sustainability champions – budding Indigenous leaders, social entrepreneurs, researchers, engineers, academics and beyond – will inspire you to believe in the power of youth to lead us swiftly toward the new green economy this world so urgently needs.

Nominations for the list opened in June with only two requirements: nominees must be under age 30 and either work in Canada or be a Canadian working abroad. An internal team brought the submissions down to a shortlist of 50, then a panel of judges each submitted their top 30 picks and the votes were tallied (note: the list appears in no particular order).

Corporate Knights asked five judges to help us select this year’s final 30:

Dianne Saxe,
Former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Priyanka Lloyd,
Executive director of Green Economy Canada

James Henry,
Sustainability lead at Google Canada

Toby Heaps,
CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights

Adria Vasil,
Managing digital editor of Corporate Knights and bestselling Ecoholic author


We know there are countless more young people in Canada being the change they want to see in the world. Be sure to let us know about any sustainability change-makers under 30 (like 15-year-old Indigenous water activist Autumn Peltier) that you think should be considered when nominations open again in the spring of 2020.


Arjun Gupta
29 | Toronto | Regional Director, Projects – Philippines at UGE | SDGS: 7

By the age of 21, Arjun Gupta had already helped electrify close to 10 villages across rural East India with solar photovoltaic systems. He saw first-hand the impact it had on the villagers: the children could study after dark, and the adults could work longer hours into the night when needed, without inhaling toxic fumes from kerosene lamps. “People need clean water and food to survive but electricity to thrive,” he says. Distributed renewable energy in particular, he realized, can provide access to electricity in villages where the central power grid is not available. An engineer by training, Arjun has worked eight years in renewable energy. He now works for the Canadian company UGE implementing solar and microgrid projects in Brazil, Panama, Guatemala, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Turks and Caicos, Canada, the U.S. and the Philippines.


Ana F. González Guerrero
28 | Ottawa | Co-founder and Managing Director,
Youth Climate Lab/Innovation Fund | SDGs: 5, 8, 10, 11

Ana F. González Guerrero founded Youth Climate Lab in 2017 after she and co-founder (and Top 30 Under 30 alumni) Dominique Souris noticed a lack of youth participation in decisions affecting their future. The duo wanted to help spark and scale up youth-led climate projects and businesses. Since its inception, YCL has developed 11 projects, including Greenpreneurs, Our2030 and Y-NEXT, in six countries. YCL’s newest project, Future X Change, connects youth from Canada’s Arctic Gwich’in First Nation and southern Canada to collaborate on activating climate action in their communities. Ana also works at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Partnerships for Municipal Innovation in Local Economic Development, where she manages a small-scale innovation fund for inclusive economic development in Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bolivia.

Aliénor (Allie) Rougeot
20 | Toronto | Climate Justice Activist, Fridays for Future
| SDGs: 8, 11, 13, 16

If you participated in one of the nearly 300 climate strikes that took place across Canada, you can thank the passionate climate organizers that made Fridays for Future demonstrations a reality. In Toronto, that’s head strike organizer Aliénor Rougeot (or Allie, as she’s known). She has been a human rights and environmental activist since the age of 10 and these days is focused on building a Climate Strike coalition that includes traditional environmental, Indigenous and migrant rights groups as well as racialized youth and workers. What inspired her to join the strike movement? “I was active in the different sustainability groups on campus. However, I felt very frustrated encouraging small, individual changes to students.” A gnawing sense that “we need to question the whole system” drove her to take on strike organizing and speaking at schools to try to inspire more university students to get engaged. “My dream would be that every student graduating in 2020 and 2021 feels as though they are a climate leader, no matter which field they go into.” Image courtesy of Toronto Star.

Taylor Morriseau
25 | Niverville, Manitoba | PhD Candidate, Health Researcher | SDGs: 3

Growing up in Manitoba, Taylor Morriseau saw how diabetes dominated conversations about Indigenous health in her extended family and community. “As a consequence of the intergenerational effects and ongoing colonialism, Indigenous youth are disproportionately burdened by diseases like early-onset type 2 diabetes,” she says. As a PhD candidate at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Taylor studies the molecular mechanisms underlying youth-onset type 2 diabetes, and her recent contribution to the Journal of Endocrinology examines how gestational diabetes influences long-term health trajectories and chronic disease. The goal of her work is to uncover new therapeutic strategies and disrupt the vicious cycle that perpetuates poor health outcomes across generations. “My work is simply one outlet to honour the commitments of those before me,” she says, “and to pave a brighter future for those to come.”

Jordan Kasarjian
25 | Montreal | Venture Capital Associate, Inerjys | SDGs: 7, 8, 12

At his day job at Inerjys, Jordan Kasarjian provides funding and commercialization expertise to cleantech start-ups. Funding early-stage enterprises means he’s assessing the potential of companies with little or no revenue, so standard financial analysis tools aren’t helpful. “I tend to look at the team,” he says. “It’s fine to invest in innovations, but I like to invest in innovators.” Outside of this, he founded the sustainable clothing brand Voyageur, which produces carbon-neutral rainwear designed to withstand intense outdoor activity. Jordan was a canoe-tripping guide for Northwaters Langskib, sharing his love of the outdoors with youth, and comes from a family of entrepreneurs, so Voyageur was a good fit. “I want Voyageur to be an expression of how I think business should be done,” he says. “Net carbon neutrality is just one small piece of that.”

Rachel Wang
29 | Toronto | Founder, Evoke Creatives | SDGs: 11

Rachel Wang knows how much popular culture and music have affected the way she thinks and what she cares about. She also understands that many experts, when communicating about climate change, don’t fully consider how young people acquire knowledge. That’s why she founded Evoke Creatives to bring more racialized youth to the frontlines of the environmental movement using hip hop, with the understanding that music can be a powerful catalyst for change. This summer Rachel worked with organizers of hip hop and Caribbean music festivals to engage racialized youth as volunteers to manage waste and help make those events more sustainable. Prior to founding this social enterprise, Rachel worked for WWF and was a facilitator for the Active Citizens program in Canada.

Rachel Parent
20 | Toronto | GMO Educator/Food Activist | SDGs: 2, 3, 12

Rachel Parent led her first march calling for genetically modified ingredients to be identified on labels when she was 13 years old. Since then, she’s become a major force in the GMO labelling movement and a globally sought-after speaker who engages thousands to think critically about their food choices (including CBC host Kevin O’Leary in a punchy live debate when she was just 14). In addition to founding Kids Right to Know, she’s now the youth director of Regeneration International, a global network for regenerative agriculture and land use practices, and founder of Gen-Earth, an educational platform designed to inspire youth to take action through filmmaking and activism. Her advice to young people looking to hold corporations accountable? “Don’t be disheartened by their antics to bring you down.” She adds that “constructive dialogue and putting in place action plans that corporations can participate in is a way of not only holding them accountable but making sure they’re transitioning to systems that [contribute to] social good.”

Vincent Morales
25 | Calgary | Technical and Policy Analyst, Pembina Institute | SDGs: 3, 7, 13

Vincent Morales has one motivation: tackling climate change. His interest in sustainable energy began when he was 15 and did an internship with his father, who sold commercial rooftop solar photovoltaics in southern France. A study-abroad semester in Quebec inspired him to apply his expertise in Canada. Now on the other side of the country as an analyst at Pembina and treasurer of the Calgary Climate Hub, Vincent works on multiple fronts to drive climate action in Calgary. He has presented to city council in support of strong climate policy, organized clean energy forums, trained youth changemakers and frequently speaks on francophone media about energy and climate in the province. Although Alberta lags in the transition to a clean economy, Vincent says the province’s great solar and wind resources, skilled citizens, and the growing number of Albertans working to accelerate the energy transition inspire him to keep fighting for positive change.

Fatin Tawfig
25 | Germany and Toronto | Early Career Climate Fellow, UN University – Institute for Environment and Human Security | SDGs: 11, 13

This young Sudanese-Canadian calls herself a “climate policy wonk” who’s passionate about securing a prosperous future for all. Fatin Tawfig studied green growth policies in the Republic of Georgia and is currently in Bonn, Germany, as part of the inaugural cohort of Early Career Climate Fellows hosted by the UN Climate Change Secretariat and the UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security. Her research there focuses on building resilience, particularly in private sector engagement and adaptation finance. “Although adaptation action generally falls to communities and the public sector by default,” Fatin says, “the private sector has an unprecedented opportunity to benefit from and to accelerate resilience building and adaptation efforts.” The University of Toronto alumni was one of 100 “green ticket” winners offered carbon neutral travel to the first ever UN Youth Climate Summit in New York this September.

Larissa Crawford
23 | Toronto | Public Speaker, Researcher, Trainer | SDGs: 7, 10

While working in the energy sector on the government side, Larissa Crawford was being invited to energy ministerial meetings, international policy negotiations and youth energy roundtables and realized there was an urgent need for anti-racism and Indigenous leadership in renewable energy policy. “It highlighted the importance of having someone like me do the work that I do,” says Larissa, who channelled her talent for communication, specialized experience and her lived experience as a woman of Métis and Jamaican ancestry to launch her own consultancy, Larissa Crawford Speaks. She’s since served as head Canadian delegate at the 2018 G7 Youth Summit, where she lobbied successfully for Indigenous climate action in the G7 Summit. Most recently, she brought her message of inclusive clean energy development to an international delegation at the 2019 Clean Energy Ministerial meetings. She currently works as the Indigenous community liaison with the Calgary-based non-profit Calgary Learns.

Lucy Cullen
27 | Toronto | Co-founder, Terus; Founder and CEO, EarthPup | SDGs: 12

After years of watching uneaten food get tossed in the garbage while working in the hospitality industry, Lucy Cullen knew she needed to take action. The company she founded in response, Terus, has diverted almost 150,000 pounds of waste from the landfill by working with restaurants to improve waste management systems, reduce food prep waste, shift to sustainable suppliers and inspire restaurant staff as agents of change. Her newest venture, EarthPup, combines the expertise she built in food sustainability with her love of dogs by producing organic, planet-friendly dog treats. A portion of the company’s revenue helps to rehome rescue dogs. Photo credit: Nikki Leigh McKean

Kelly Lovell
27 | Waterloo, Ontario | Youth Mobilizer, CEO, Lovell Corporation; Founder MyEffect, Youth2030 Challenge | SDGs: 4, 8, 10

Before she was commanding rooms full of world leaders, Kelly Lovell was an introvert. The first time she spoke live was to a stadium of 7,000-plus students, when she gave the opening speech at the 2012 We Day in Kitchener, after having found her passion mobilizing youth at the local Volunteer Action Centre as a teen. Now she’s an eight-time UN speaker, a three-time TEDx speaker and an active champion for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Through her company, MyEffect, Lovell has developed an app that connects young people with partners around the globe to take action on SDG-aligned sustainability projects, tracking everyone’s impact. To those who underestimate the power of youth, Kelly says, “Youth are resourceful, tech-savvy self-starters with an innate drive to make an impact and [have] unjaded creative minds – the leadership ingredients we need from stakeholders to achieve the ambitious targets of the SDGs over this next decade.”

Christie McLeod
29 | Winnipeg and Toronto | Founder & Director of Human Rights Hub, Law Student | SDGs: 5, 11

As the founder and director of Winnipeg’s Human Rights Hub, Christie McLeod knows more than most that the climate crisis can violate fundamental human rights to life, liberty, security and access to food, shelter and more. “A pivotal injustice is that those most impacted by climate change are those least responsible for the emissions that contributed to climate change,” says Christie. She had her “light bulb” moment to go to law school after reading about Canadian First Nations’ constitutional right to water. Now a specialist in environmental and Aboriginal law in the final year of her law degree and a Master's in Environmental Studies, she has advocated for the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation and helped launch the Friends of Shoal Lake 40 coalition, which helped secure an all-year access road to the community. Stay tuned for the findings of her current research on what Canada’s “fair share” of emissions reductions ought to be.

Nirwair Singh Bajwa
27 | Edmonton | Sustainability Analyst, Stantec | SDGs: 9

Nirwair Singh Bajwa had recently moved to Edmonton from India to start a master’s degree in chemical engineering when he became aware of the pressing need to make Canada’s buildings more efficient (at this point, they’re responsible for roughly 20% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions). Nirwair now works as a sustainability analyst on Stantec Edmonton’s Sustainability and Building Performance Team. And thanks to his efforts, the 66-storey Stantec Tower in Edmonton has health and wellness woven into its design, complete with a Community Supported Agriculture drop-off program and access to 13 kilometres of pedestrian paths to promote employee health. The chair of the Emerging Green Professionals (EGPs) program at the Canada Green Building Council is also active with PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Alberta, where he’s helped remove financial barriers to the retrofit economy.

Liz Gosselin
28 | Halifax | Co-founder and Creative Director, R&G Strategic | SDGs: 17

R&G isn’t your typical branding, marketing and communications agency. Liz Gosselin’s company, based in Halifax, works exclusively with sustainable businesses moving toward circular-economy business models. She gives her clients the sustainable marketing expertise needed to reach their business goals as they develop innovative ways to manage the planet’s natural resources and act on the climate crisis. Some of her projects include helping Nova Scotians learn about their homes’ solar potential with SolarAssist, promoting electric vehicle adoption with EV Assist and Next Ride, and working with organizations leading Canada’s shift to a clean economy, including Efficiency Canada and Sustane Technologies.

Rylan Urban
26 | Toronto | Founder, energyhub.org | SDGs: 7, 12, 13

Something struck Rylan Urban about the fact that the Canadian provinces that are home to some of the best renewable energy resources, like Alberta and Saskatchewan, were also the “dirtiest.” The creative strategist saw the lack of information about renewables as a major impediment to the adoption of solar power and other clean energy across the country. So he created energyhub.org to bridge that gap. The site has since reached over 150,000 Canadians and brokered over $1 million in residential solar system sales across five provinces. He’s clearly got more winning ideas up his sleeve: Rylan won the Pembina Institute’s 2019 Youth Energy Policy Design Competition for his policy package on how Canada can reach 2030 international climate targets. As well, the master’s of sustainability management student recently co-organized a two-day conference, Let’s Talk Sustainability, for 500 middle school students in Peel Region.

Alexandra Tavasoli
29 | Toronto | CEO, The Solistra Corporation; Chemical Engineer | SDGs: 7

As an environmentalist chemical engineer, Alexandra Tavasoli has always felt an internal tension about the pace at which chemical engineering is implementing change and the urgency of the climate crisis. Now, as the CEO of Toronto-based cleantech start-up Solistra, she and her team are developing a revolutionary chemical conversion technology that uses solar energy to convert greenhouse gases into sustainable fuels and products like plastic – using solar-activated nanocatalysts Alexandra developed during her PhD in materials engineering at the University of Toronto. “I believe that technologies that are able to facilitate the transition of large industry into a cleaner future will be vital to…building a pluralistic climate-fighting strategy,” says the MaRS Women in Cleantech finalist, who also hopes to inspire the next generation of female engineers.

Corbin Lowe
28 | Vancouver | Co-founder, Planted Meals | SDGs: 13

Corbin Lowe had thought transitioning to a plant-based diet would be impossible. In 2015, he reached what he calls his “breaking point” when he realized the extent to which his meat-based diet was fuelling the climate crisis (livestock contribute to roughly 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – on par with the entire transport sector). As a triathlete who loved to lift weights, he wanted to eliminate meat from his diet but had ingrained assumptions that high-level athletes couldn’t be vegan. Then his friend Natalie Young introduced him to high-protein plants and some delicious vegan recipes, and Corbin was surprised to find that his athletic performance didn’t suffer. Inspired, he and Natalie founded Planted Meals, a vegan meal-prep and delivery service, serving up to 1,500 meals a week, with an estimated carbon savings of 2.5kg/CO2 per meal. Now, the Vancouver-based company prioritizes convenience, affordability and positive messaging to normalize plant-based eating for a cleaner, kinder planet.

Angela Li
17 | Toronto | Student, Founder TheTwentyThirty.org |
SDGs: 5, 11

At 17, Angela takes an interdisciplinary approach to advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, using business, technology and social advocacy platforms to address pressing environmental issues. She set up her own non-profit organization, the Twenty-Thirty Project, to introduce the UN SDGs to others around the world. Twenty-Thirty is now in more than 20 countries, with chapters in Syria, the Philippines, Jamaica and India. Every few months, Angela’s organization focuses on a different SDG. For example, in honour of International Women’s Day and SDG #5 (gender equality), her non-profit organized menstrual-hygiene-product fundraisers and was able to distribute 11,000 biodegradable female sanitary products to rural slums in India and to homeless shelters in chapter cities. As a result of her work, she was invited to the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s 2019 Youth Forum.

Marina Melanidis & Caroline Merner
24 and 24 | Vancouver
Founders, Climate Guides | SDGs: 13

Caroline Merner and Marina Melanidis were aboard the Ocean Endeavour cruise ship – crossing the Davis Strait from Resolute, Nunavut, to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland – with Students on Ice when they discovered a shared passion for climate action. With their Vancouver-based non-profit, Climate Guides, they hoped to replicate the energy and mentorship model that naturally evolved on the ship between Indigenous Elders, professionals and students in various fields. Climate Guides matches youth with climate professionals to implement climate action projects, including Youth4Nature, a capacity-building group that promotes youth and marginalized communities as catalysts for nature-based solutions to the climate crisis.

Aaron Joshua Pinto
28 | New York City | Trade Commissioner – Foreign Direct Investment, Consulate General of Canada in New York | SDGs: 16

As a Bahrain-born Indo-Canadian whose family moved to Canada from the Middle East following the Gulf War, Aaron Joshua Pinto has always been driven to address the injustice in global inequities. He’s travelled to Malawi as part of a Commonwealth Observer Group monitoring the 2019 tripartite elections, produced research on applying Canadian best practices in water management in Kazakhstan, and helped create an award-winning biodegradable mosquito net for malaria prevention in Africa. “Initiatives and policies are important,” he says, “but there are also lessons we can learn about community trust and well-being. We must pay attention.” Aaron now works as a trade commissioner for the Consulate General of Canada in New York.

Jessica Iida
28 | Vancouver | Sustainability Operations Lead, lululemon | SDGs: 12

Although she started her career as a consultant, Jessica Iida wanted to drive corporate sustainability changes from the inside to help see things through. That instinct, combined with an interest in lightening fashion’s massive environmental impact, took her to lululemon. As Sustainability Operations lead, Jessica’s overseen the reuse, donation and recycling of more than 2.5 million garments and rolled out lululemon’s sustainable packaging policy. “There’s such a need to move the industry forward,” says Jessica. And because the company is so consumer-facing, she says, “there’s this incredible opportunity to tap into something everyone can relate to and leverage the power of brands like lululemon to inspire action.”

Brandon Raco
26 | Guelph | Manager of Sustainability at University
of Guelph, Co-founder Green Gryphon Initiative | SDGs: 11

Brandon Raco was still an undergrad in environmental governance and business when he co-founded the Green Gryphon Initiative, a $26.2 million investment in energy and water conservation retrofits at the University of Guelph. Now, as sustainability manager for the same institution, he has established a thirty-year, $46.2 million Sustainable Campus Action Fund, finding ways to reduce single-use plastics on campus, and is collaborating with the City of Guelph to improve access to alternative modes of transport, all while earning his master’s degree in planning and development. Brandon credits his accomplishments to his ability to engage groups to work toward common goals with “pragmatic optimism.”

Supriya Verma
27 | Toronto | Product Manager and PR Director, Belnor Engineering; Entrepreneur | SDGs: 11, 12

When Supriya Verma isn’t working on her own digital magazine, SustainabilityX.co, or running her e-boutique, Sustainabilista.store, in her spare time, you’ll find her at Belnor Engineering. She’s in charge of procuring sustainable building materials from around the globe and is largely responsible for starting the renewable-energy-solutions arm of the company. Her pet project: encouraging Belnor’s use of “transparent solar glass” – architectural glass that generates solar energy from invisible photovoltaic modules.

Jessica Peixoto
27 | Toronto | Sustainability Specialist, Celestica | SDGS: 7, 12

Manufacturing electronics is an energy-intensive business. Jessica Peixoto’s mission is to keep it in check for Celestica, a Canadian multinational electronics manufacturing company. “Businesses have an obligation to reduce their greenhouses gas emissions in line with the latest science,” says Jessica. At Celestica, Jessica is developing a science-based target to reduce emissions and tracks progress all while finding ways to reduce energy usage, boost building and machinery efficiency, and increase renewable energy use throughout the company’s global facilities. “It’s not an easy task,” says Jessica, but “senior managers must be on board with these goals to support changes within all aspects of the business.”

Alison Carr
29 | Vancouver | Co-founder and COO, Nada | SDGs: 12, 14

Alison Carr considers it serendipitous that a colleague showed her a market research survey from the original founder of Nada while she was in her last year of university. Deeply interested in waste issues and rapidly approaching graduation, Alison started volunteering at Nada and then got herself a grant to become the first employee of the package-free grocery store. As an undergraduate student of geography, she made the connection between our food systems and the health of our oceans. Now, as co-founder and COO of Nada, she works to reduce plastic pollution at the source, working with all levels of the supply chain to reduce packaging waste and implementing a reusable container program for suppliers. Alison’s team advocates for policy change via the City of Vancouver’s Food Policy Council, small business roundtables and Zero Waste 2040 strategy consultations. Photo credit: Guy Fergusen

Sukhmeet Sachal
25 | Vancouver | Founder, BreaktheDivide.net and Vantage 720 | SDGs: 13

Sukhmeet Sachal saw the degradation of the Arctic first-hand when he volunteered to teach science to Indigenous youth in the Northwest Territories in 2017. There he learned from Indigenous Elders about the impact of climate change on physical and mental health, as well as the real effects of melting sea ice, rising ocean levels and changing animal migratory patterns. Sukhmeet founded BreaktheDivide.net to connect youth in the Canadian North to youth in southern Canada to share and explore the mental-health effects of climate change. Break the Divide has since expanded beyond Canada, connecting youth in India, South Africa and Taiwan. His next start-up? Vantage 720 uses virtual reality technology, local Indigenous knowledge and storytelling to help users, particularly in Zambia, experience the effects of climate change first-hand in hopes that the personal experience will lead to action. Sukhmeet received a 2019 Diana Award for his activism and is now a medical student at UBC.

Bianca Dahlman
28 | Winnipeg | Master of Architecture Student, University
of Manitoba | SDGs: 11

While completing her bachelor’s in environmental design in Winnipeg, Bianca Dahlman was tasked with developing an architectural project that would serve the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation two hours north of the city. The result was the Weave Cultural Centre, “where the community of Shoal Lake 40 can reconnect with and celebrate their history in a modern, multi-purpose space that embraces culture and green building design.” Weave earned her a Canada Green Building Council Award for students leading sustainability. Since then, a new architectural course has been created for students to design spaces inspired by Weave. Bianca hopes to become a certified architect who can contribute to the design of net-positive buildings.

Eashan Karnik
25 | Mississauga | Legal Analyst, Smart Prosperity Institute Researcher | SDGs: 6, 13

As Eashan Karnik sees it, youth have a particular advantage when coming up with solutions to the climate crisis, since they’re not as quick to get hung up on complex ideas with big budgets and large teams. “The biggest impediment to innovation is complexity,” says Eashan, a legal analyst, Smart Prosperity Institute researcher and Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Ottawa. Beginning as a young volunteer in the City of Mississauga, he’s since given talks on youth innovation on Parliament Hill, co-led the First Nations Drinking Water Initiative for Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, represented Canada as the head delegate to the World Trade Organization’s Public Forum in Geneva and the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York, and is co-leading a project that explores how intellectual property laws affect clean energy innovation at Smart Prosperity.

Rachel Scott
28 | Toronto | Co-owner, Zoom Illumination | SDGs: 7, 12

Rachel Scott got the bright idea to found Zoom Illumination, an LED lighting retrofit company, in 2016 when she learned there weren’t many reliable businesses offering turnkey LED lighting solutions. The environmental studies major had always been interested in saving the planet while growing a profitable company. Since the company’s founding in early 2016, Zoom has grossed more than $2 million in sales, all while saving businesses money and reducing their energy consumption. In May of this year, Rachel’s company branched out into the water market with a pilot project to reduce water consumption and hydro bills in both commercial and residential buildings. Her advice for young entrepreneurs? “Delegate your weaknesses so you can focus on your vision. Take risks, believe in yourself, work hard and enjoy the ride.”






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