“If you want to get involved in sustainable development projects, reflect on—and then act
with—your unique skills and talents. There is space for everyone in this movement.”

Sydney Whiting

2024 Top 30 Under 30

ABOUT

AGE: 20

PRONOUNS: She/Her

HOMETOWN: Lethbridge, AB

CURRENT RESIDENCE: Lethbridge, AB

ORGANIZATIONS:

  • Young Diplomats of Canada
    Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy
    Local Provincial Constituency Association
    Campus Collective Centre, University of Lethbridge

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS I’M WORKING TOWARDS:

What specific issue(s) are you taking on, and what inspires you to do so?

I am passionate about political and youth-led organizing for environmental causes. From researching housing and sustainability policy for my municipality, campaigning in the Alberta provincial election, to advocating for strong environmental policy with leaders at the G7 Youth Summit in Japan, my work for a
more sustainable future has often taken a winding path.

Nevertheless, I am constantly inspired by the community organizers that I have met or collaborated with. They have taught me about the importance of community-building, rest, and mutual aid in advocacy
projects, and I hope to continuously reflect these values in my work.

What does climate change or climate justice mean to you? To your work?

I view climate justice as a framework to ensure environmental issues are viewed (and tackled) in holistic, intersectional, and equitable ways. It demands that we ask critical questions, like who is benefitting, who is harmed, and how can power and privilege be used to uplift others. This means that I am constantly reflecting on these questions. In my work, it also means bringing the issue of climate change into seemingly juxtaposing spaces, like discussions on gender equality, peace and security, and affordability. Ultimately, I believe that recognizing the intersectionality of these issues is necessary to have disruptive, systems-level change.

What advice do you have for other young people looking to get involved in sustainable development?

One of the biggest lessons I have learned about advocacy so far is that it can take many different forms, from video production to protesting, and poetry to government reports.

I began my journey at environmental protests, making art, and proudly holding the megaphone at an
event. Recently, however, my work is less grandiose. Now I do research, write reports, and give presentations, and although sometimes it can be less obvious, I still feel as though I am working towards valuable advocacy goals.

So, my advice is to do whatever you’re skilled at, collaborate with others, and don’t put too much pressure on trying to find the “right” way to contribute to the environmental movement.

Sydney presenting the final Y7 Communique to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan. The Communique featured extensive youth recommendations on climate, health, digital, economic, and peace and security issues after months of negotiations.

Screen-grab of Japanese TV coverage of the Peace and Security discussions at the Y7 Summit. Sydney served as the Canadian youth representative for these discussions with the Young Diplomats of Canada.

Sydney meeting with former Canadian Minister of Environment Catherine McKenna to discuss the intersections of youth, gender, and climate risks as a delegate to the 66th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Sydney and her friend preparing for the “Advocacy 101” conference they co-hosted with a group of student organizations at the University of Lethbridge.

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