You might think teenagers are gadget-addled, party-prone, pop culture addicts. But here’s someone that’ll probably question your perception. At 16, Bengaluru lad Sankalp Mohan Sharma has been chosen to represent India at the United Nations Youth Assembly, at The UN headquarters in New York. A persistent green warrior, this teenager has been creating awareness about the impending water crisis for a while now, and this stage is where he could shine.
A student of Frank Anthony Public School in Bengaluru, his love for extracurriculars had him join environment-related clubs that focussed on everything from Green Olympiads to waste segregation and recycling. “I started developing several questions about why our planet is in danger, even reaching a point where nobody could answer my questions any longer,” he says. Call it serendipity, but it was then that this passionate debater stumbled upon a Ted talk by Noble laureate and the 45th Vice President of the United States of America, Al Gore. “I volunteered myself at The Climate Reality Project founded and chaired by him too,” says Sankalp, who was then chosen as India’s youngest Climate Reality Leader! “I was trained by several experts such as Dr. Bullard the father of environmental Justice, the first women recipient of the Green Ring Award aka Dr. Susan Pacheco and Sir Al Gore himself,” beams the 16-year-old. This training, he says, helped him prepare presentations to create awareness about climate change, its dangers and solutions – something that he’s presented at schools, NGOs, Rotary Clubs, CEOs of well-established firms and the Indian Army.
You could then say that representing India at the UN is only another feather in his cap. The illustrious teen also crowdfunded his campaign on Fueladream raising almost Rs 99,000 to get there. “The agenda of this assembly is the 2030 sustainable development goals. I intend to learn water conservation techniques and the solutions representatives from various countries are implementing to make our planet safe,” says Sankalp, who also holds the distinction of being the youngest state head of Karnataka for the Walk for Water campaign. He may even get an opportunity to speak at the same grand podium where Malala, PM Modi and Barack Obama stood!
Giving thanks where it’s due, Sankalp confesses that his parents are his biggest support system. “My father being from the Army helps me with the government work and my mother being the Mrs India Asia International World introduces me to several celebrities and helps make my campaign popular. I also have an elder sister who helps me with my projects and prepares me for every hurdle that I may face,” he smiles. He plans to take up a career in environmental law to legally fight against climate change deniers, but until then, he wants to create awareness about taking the smallest steps to change the world. “Did you know that if every Indian, in India closed their taps while brushing every day for a year we can save approximately one billion litres of water? A small step but a large impact,” he says, giving us something to think about....