Carlos Shanka
  • Carlos Shanka Boissy Diaz (he/him)

    Founding Curator, Global Shapers Las Palmas
  • 30 Under 30
  • 2023

Carlos Shanka is a sustainability enthusiast fighting the climate crisis through interdisciplinary youth-led projects in the Canary Islands and across the globe.

Spain, Age 22

Founding Curator, Global Shapers Las Palmas, ClienEarth Next Generation Board, Windo Advisor

How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities? Tell us about your EE work and impact.

I have been working on designing a curriculum that puts people and the planet first at the University of Bristol, where I studied. I worked with university departments, the senior class team, and groups of students to integrate Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) at all levels institutionally, as well as to deliver several educational events including workshops, talks, and panels on environmental issues. Although this can be tedious work, I see all 30,000 students as future leaders and want to make sure they are equipped with ESD. 

I am currently working back home in the Canary Islands to promote awareness of environmental issues and empower fellow youngsters to be part of the necessary change. With a growing team of passionate friends called Global Shapers Las Palmas, we are delivering workshops on sustainable development, careers with purpose, and local environmental protection.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. What inspired you? What has your path been like?

It has definitely been a progressive journey in which I experienced a peak when I was around sixteen years old. It was then I became aware of the true gravity of our environmental situation while researching the IPCC AR5 report for a school project. I started by devouring information and news about climate change and committed my capacity to take action. I soon joined local environmental organizations and began to understand the intersectionality of this multidimensional problem. 

Studying biology at the University of Bristol was an incredible opportunity for me as I got to join and learn from a myriad of existing projects, networks, and amazing people. However, I did not conceive of environmental education as being a passion and expertise of mine until the middle of my second year where I realized the powerful impacts of empowering and engaging others. I was fortunate to interact with an international network where I met inspiring youngsters from all around the world to learn from and work with.

A Little More About Me

What’s a passion project of yours outside of your work?

This is an interesting question since I perceive that almost every action I take is related to my work. I hardly differentiate what I do for work and for fun!   However, I could coin “discovering the world” as a personal project that is not only about working but meeting my curiosity, adventurous, and intellectual needs. Our planet can feel both huge and tiny, and so is our lifetime. Learning from so many different cultures, philosophies, stories, luxuries and struggles, people, languages, climates, biodiversity, and history is one of the most rewarding challenges in life.

And then you can obviously apply them to work

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

Life is too short to not pursue your dreams and aspirations. Not only can you make a difference, but you should! Let’s reunite ourselves and take bold, ethical actions towards achieving, or better said, getting closer to equal access to a healthy environment, livelihood, and life. It all sounds idealistic, and thus why one cannot save the world alone, but rather focusing on a specific challenge at a time and feeding back to the world in a synergistic way. Never give up, always seek alternatives and, if you ever feel down, take care of yourself and remember that it will be temporary.

What (or who) keeps you hopeful for the future?

The power of youth. I think that young people are the only chance we have, if any, of safeguarding environmental wellbeing. We are catalyzers of action and change; we are immensely energetic, ambitious, and willing. And we haven’t succumbed to giving up yet! Learning from powerful young leaders makes me feel more optimistic.

Describe your work in a haiku.

Wooden hopes burning

Seeds we nurture

From oblivion’s window