Truzaar Dordi of Waterloo, Canada is one of the top 30 under 30 sustainability leaders in 2020 per the Corporate Knights listing.
As COVID-19 swept the globe, #climatestrike marches were cancelled, bans on single-use plastic were put on hold, along with, well, everything. The pandemic also brought into sharp focus widening societal divides, with youth, women, and racialized and marginalized communities feeling the brunt of the economic fallout. During the first wave of the pandemic, nearly one in four Canadians under the age of 30 were NEET – not in employment, education or training – according to Statistics Canada. Polling from TD Bank shows that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) youth were hardest hit.
Yet despite all that, today’s young people remain resilient and determined to better the world, as Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey of millennials and Gen Zs across 43 countries found. “They are deeply affected by the pandemic but seem able to see opportunity in the darkness,” said Deloitte analysts in June, noting that the battle-hardened generation isn’t just “hoping for a better world to emerge after the COVID-19 pandemic releases its grip on society – they want to lead the change.”
Eight months after Canadian schools and workplaces first shuttered, today’s young people know there’s work to be done, and as the world’s future leaders, they’re finding creative ways to do it all during a global pandemic. They’re taking to the streets and to the boardrooms calling for racial justice, they’re pushing their workplaces and businesses to embrace a higher purpose, they’re determined torchbearers of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and they’re making their voices heard, demanding a more equitable, caring and green economic recovery.
When Corporate Knights, with support from Telus, opened up this year’s 30 under 30 nominations to the public, we were overwhelmed by an astonishing list of accomplished candidates. 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. Narrowing the list was harder than ever, but the final 30 sustainability champs are an awe-inspiring group of Indigenous leaders, social entrepreneurs, non-profit founders, cleantech champions and beyond.
The list is in no particular order, but we do offer a word of warning: reading these bios is sure to inspire and energize you to get involved in building back better from the pandemic – and to join the growing roll call of youth leaders shaping the #nextnormal.
There is an army of young sustainability leaders in Canada who deserve recognition for the great work they do. Be sure to let us know about any change-makers under 30 that you think should be considered when nominations open again in the spring of 2021.
29, Waterloo, PhD candidate in climate finance, University of Waterloo
“As we approach what will be the largest transfer of wealth in human history, youth will play a pivotal role in how that money is invested,” says Truzaar Dordi. His research, which examines pathways for a just, low-carbon transition through social and financial movements, has earned him an Energy Policy Research Fellowship with the Energy Council of Canada. Truzaar’s research on stranded assets in particular seeks to reconcile Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement with its role as a major exporter of oil from the emissions-intensive oil sands. He also co-founded a regional chapter of Sustainable Youth Canada and led a team to host two What can YOUth Do? sustainability conferences, connecting more than 300 community members and 30 local organizations on environmental sustainability.