Dubai teen hailed as climate champion on global list of high-achieving women

Sagarika Sriram named on the BBC’s 100 Woman 2023 list for her dedication to the environment

Sagarika Sriram at the UN
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A teenager in the UAE has been hailed as a climate champion in a new global ranking of high-achieving women.

Sagarika Sriram, 18, was named on the BBC 100 Women 2023 list this week, which has a focus on eco activists.

She was one of 28 entrants in the climate pioneer section of the collection of inspiring and influential women from around the world.

The Dubai resident, whose family have roots in Chennai, India, has been dedicated to protecting the planet for years.

She has worked on environmentally-friendly campaigns from the age of 10, founding the online sustainability platform Kids4abetterworld while studying at Jumeirah Primary School.

She has since spent her time tirelessly campaigning and educating at climate conferences and crucial meetings. Ms Sriram offers online and offline environmental workshops and is part of the children’s advisory team of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Speaking to The National, she looked ahead to Cop28 – due to run from November 30 to December 12 at Expo City Dubai.

“This is a very big step for the UAE and I’m all for it,” Ms Sriram said.

“Internationally, it could be said that the UAE has a reputation for high consumption – but Cop28 will be groundbreaking to change that perspective and reinforce the UAE's commitment towards sustainable development and climate resilience.

“The way the UAE approaches issues with a focus on inclusivity on the international stage can be transformational and very valuable when it comes to decision-making at Cop28.”

Ms Sriram said she was “very pleased” to see the UAE focus on youth with recent policies after President Sheikh Mohamed this month laid out a plan to focus on economic growth, youth and sustainable projects.

Give youth a say

Having attended last year’s Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, she will be present every day at this year’s conference at the Unicef tent, in the Blue Zone.

Looking ahead to what the UAE can achieve at Cop28, Ms Sriram said the focus should be on youth.

“We need to involve children and youth in decision making,” she said.

“Children need to be heard. Children do have a voice but it’s very hard for adults to listen.

“Involving children in the climate space is incredibly important so we can really take on board the different perspectives.”

Reflecting on being named on the BBC 100 Women list for 2023, Ms Sriram said: “It’s definitely a big surprise. It feels very good to have such a high level of recognition for my work.”

Ms Sriram is currently on a gap year to focus on her climate change campaigning. She is hoping to apply to university in 2024, looking to specialise in environmental studies with a focus on sustainability.

Ms Sriram joins a host of influential names from all over the world on the BBC 100 Women list for 2023.

These include Basima Abdulrahman – a green-building entrepreneur from Iraq – and Elham Youssefian, a blind US-Iranian rights lawyer who advocates the inclusion of people of determination when addressing climate change.

Away from the 28 Climate Pioneers, notable names among the 100 include former US first lady Michelle Obama, rights lawyer Amal Clooney and AI expert Timnit Gebru.

Beauty blogger and entrepreneur Huda Kattan, who lives and runs Huda Beauty in Dubai, also made the list.

Updated: November 22, 2023, 11:59 AM