Shriya Rai
  • Shriya Rai

    Founder, Sashakt Bharat
  • 30 Under 30
  • 2021

Shriya is a youth sustainability leader building a network of community-connected, engaged, and empowered sustainability champions in India through education, advocacy, and entrepreneurship.

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

At Sashkat Bharat, we are working towards crafting environmental education strategies and sustainability messaging specific to linguistic, cultural, and regional needs in India. Through our sustainability leadership conferences, we have trained over 2000 youth leaders and created the space for representative, inclusive, and innovation-driven conversations to lead sustainability solutions. Our collaborative efforts have helped us build partnerships with over 32 national and international institutions across the world, through which we have pooled institutional and educational resources to extend the reach of our programs across India. I believe that to build an equitable future, young people as representatives of their communities must be mentored through environmental education and be provided with the space to rationalize their knowledge, practices, and values within the larger framework of sustainability. To that effect, we actively advocate for integrating environmental education and sustainability programs within institutional curricula to facilitate the know-how for young people to create local solutions and become partners for a resilient future. 

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. 

My sustainability journey started as a 19-year-old student engaging with the politics of the global climate governance structure by articulating the need for subaltern agency, politics, and representation for building a sustainable future. The opportunity to represent my country in global forums helped me build a bridge between the best practices of the West and Indian knowledge systems by creating the space for Indic, youth-led, and equity-driven solutions. With mentorship and assistance from leaders from across the world, I was able to establish Sashakt Bharat as a platform rooted in solidarity, knowledge sharing, youth leadership, and democratic participation. My source of motivation and inspiration comes from youth who are enterprising, solution-driven, resourceful, and can rally people together to drive collective impact. Being part of communities looking to disrupt and challenge the pre-established values, norms, and solutions has helped me shape my vision and find my rooting in the world. Through my work, I hope to simplify, localize, and expand the reach of sustainability messaging and solutions through education and advocacy.

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

My advice to the next generation of leaders is to stay hopeful, believe in the goodness of the world, and build solutions to empower and include communities across the world.

Who keeps you hopeful for the future?

I derive strength and hope from young people who are looking to disrupt the status quo and build a just and inclusive world on their own terms.