Gabby Tan
  • Gabby Tan

    Student, Stanford University
  • 30 Under 30
  • 2022

Age: 21


Gabby (she/her) works to further sustainable development and inspire action and policy through research and education.

How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities?

I've dedicated the past few years to working on a variety of education and sustainable development initiatives. Previously, I've led climate initiatives as a youth councilor, volunteered with the Teach the Future team to launch a climate education bill in the UK Parliament, written about climate education and action in various publications, and helped spread environmental education resources and programs in Malaysia as a former World Oceans Day youth advisor and Global Schools ambassador. In 2020, I joined Regeneration as a research fellow, where I had the exciting chance to contribute to Paul Hawken's latest book on regenerative climate solutions.

Most recently, with my environmental education project Tideturners, we've been working on increasing awareness of key environmental issues and encouraging greater youth engagement in advocacy. Through distributing classroom resources, hosting workshops in various communities, and working with youth on local actions, Tideturners' goal is to further action through collaboration and education.

Over time, I've also had the wonderful opportunity to bring a youth perspective to a variety of policy conferences and speak with thousands of people at schools, using every chance I get to engage with students, business leaders, and policymakers alike on climate education and action.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

I grew up in Malaysia and was always so inspired by the beautiful beaches and waterways around me. At the same time, through witnessing waves of air pollution, floods, and species extinction, I quickly learned about the crises impacting our environment.  

My advocacy journey began after a geography field trip to a local coral reef nursery that taught me about the ways in which climate change and marine pollution are affecting surrounding communities and ecosystems. After the trip, I continued to learn about these issues and hosted my very first school event to raise awareness about ocean issues. I have my amazing teachers and mentors to thank for their help in getting me started!

Since then, I've had the fortune of working with dozens of teams and organizations on EE and SDG-related initiatives—from collaborating on exciting policy projects to meeting so many inspiring young people and everything in between. It's been such a special journey and I am grateful for every step!


What book, film, or art piece has had the greatest impact on you?

My all-time favorite climate books are Speed & Scale by John Doerr and Regeneration by Paul Hawken—the stories of solutions and resilience are so inspiring!

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

Be as creative as you'd like—there is no one way to be an activist! Don’t underestimate yourself, and surround yourself with people who inspire you!

How do you unwind?

Exploring a new food spot with friends, finding a good playlist and/or good read.

Do you prefer sunrise, sunset, midday, or midnight?

Definitely sunsets—they're always a good reminder to take a break and get outside!

Gabby Tan at TEDxVicenza

Speaking at TEDxVicenza on climate change and ocean pollution on World Oceans Day. Photo credit: TEDxVicenza

Gabby Tan at UN Climate Week NYC

Bringing a youth perspective to the UN Climate Week NYC 2019. Photo credit: Catherine W.