Sophia Kianni: Founder of a climate protection organization



Sophia Kianni has a mission: She wants to educate people around the world about climate change - especially in regions that are often particularly affected and where access to information is particularly difficult. To this end, the 21-year-old founded the international youth-led nonprofit organization Climate Cardinals climate protection initiative. working to make climate education more accessible to people who don’t speak English. Over the past few years, we have grown to 15 college-aged directors and 10,000 volunteers in 80+ countries.  

At IAA MOBILITY in September, she will present the initiative to the industry and explain why sharing knowledge about climate change is the first step towards taking action.  

Sophia Kianni became interested in climate protection as a child.

Sophia Kianni, an American who grew up in Iran, first became interested in climate protection as a child when, on a visit to the Iranian capital Tehran, she realized one night that she couldn't see the stars because the sky was covered in smog. "That prompted me to give a presentation on climate change at my school. When I went to talk to my class, I was really surprised that they didn't really know anything about climate change. They had never heard the terms I was using, and it really hit me that as a young person, I was more knowledgeable and interested in this issue, even though it would affect my generation more than the adults around me".  

The more she studied climate studies, the more she realized that it wasn't because people around her didn't really want to deal with the effects of climate change, but because too few studies were printed in Farsi, the national language of Iran. She decided to do something about it: "At that time, I found that only a few of my classmates could explain what greenhouse gases are. So, I decided to translate climate studies into Farsi with my mother to at least educate my relatives about climate change," said Kianni.   

Sophia Kianni

Climate Cardinals translates climate studies into more than 100 languages

In high school, she began volunteering for various climate change organizations and realized that most of their resources were only available in English, which appealed to a very small portion of the population. "Even the United Nations IPCC report is only officially available in six languages. That means we are reaching less than half of the world's population. There is simply a lack of climate studies available in languages other than English," says Sophia Kianni. “So I founded Climate Cardinals with the goal of informing everyone about climate change by collecting studies and information on the climate crisis and translating them into a wide variety of languages.” As a result, more than 9,000 volunteers in over 40 countries are now working to translate climate information into over 100 languages. 

Kianni's non profit organization also relies heavily on strong collaborations and partnerships. "My experience has shown me how important it is to advocate for partnerships and collaborations to drive progress in society, especially on climate change. Because change won't happen overnight, it will only happen if we bring together as many people as possible to talk about how we can work together to drive solutions forward." One partner supporting Kianni's work is Google.  

“In 2022, we partnered with Google to pilot their new AI/ML tools to automate our translations. With their help, we have now translated 1,500,000+ words of resources into 100+ languages for partners including the Yale Center for Climate Communications and United Nations Development Programme. We translated around 100,000 words of climate information into Spanish for Yale Climate Connections to increase their outreach among Latinx communities in the U.S.” 

 Recent partners include the United Nations Sustainable Development Network, the Climate Mental Health Network, the United Nations Association Climate and Youth Council, the Environmental Justice Foundation, and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. 

Sophia Kianni: Businesses must take responsibility in the fight against climate change

Outside of her work, Kianni also believes that companies must take responsibility in the fight against climate change: "Investing in sustainable technologies and infrastructure are all things that every company should commit to in order to make their own contribution to climate change and make the future better." More than that, he said, every individual can be part of the fight against climate change. It's about reaching out to the masses and voting for climate legislation that really moves us forward as a community, Kianni added. "In many ways, the climate crisis is a communication crisis, and we need to empower more young people to create content, talk about it, and get other people involved. Everyone can play a role in tackling climate change."  

Sophia Kianni at IAA MOBILITY

For her, that includes also the mobility sector.  "It will also be important to make mobility climate-neutral. The shift to electric mobility and the expansion of the public transport network are a good start," says Kianni. "I look forward to discussing at IAA MOBILITY how we can achieve the goals of sustainable mobility.  

Kianni will be speaking at IAA MOBILITY on September 6 from 12:30 am -  1pm on the Yellow Stage in Hall B2. 

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