Sally Lin helps others reimagine their climate-friendly futures

Sally Lin helps people realize bigger dreams.

I spoke with the 24-year-old from Vancouver in her Paris apartment after her long day helping fossil fuel workers prepare to use their skills in the net zero economy and young people to participate in transforming cities.

This piece is part of a series of profiles highlighting young people across the country who are tackling the climate crisis. These extraordinary human beings give me hope. I write these stories to return the favor.

Tell us about your projects.

Together with my co-director Rohan Nuttall, I lead the development, release and improvement of Iron & Earth’s Climate employment portal to provide Canadian fossil fuel workers with an increasingly comprehensive path to a career in the net-zero economy.

Workers told us they want to transition, but need more information to make the match between which skills are transferable to which industries and with what training. The portal fills in those gaps, telling them where training is available and who’s hiring. We are constantly adding new information and look forward to providing tutorials, updates on emerging trends and policies soon.

Our goal is to ultimately enable each user to reimagine their future and chart a path tailored to their own needs, receiving support and encouragement along the way.

Lunch with a view at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Photo courtesy of Sally Lin

Tell us about your other project.

I work for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) futures literacy program, supporting everyone, from young people to large multilateral organizations, to reimagine their future and empower them to make the transformational changes to fulfill their dreams.

The 24-year-old Vancouverite works for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Future Literacy program and is developing a portal for climate-related careers. #ClimateYouthAction

For example, I was recently part of a team running a futures literacy program. laboratory intended to allow students at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand to have fun while experimenting and playing games. We asked them what they saw as their likely and preferred future of climate action and justice in 2050. After they shared those visions, we invited them to think differently, immersing them in a future where rocks are repositories of vital information and they took on the roles. of both children and future ancestors.

The students envisioned a climate negotiation with babies, bees, rivers, and Fijian elders, and with this expansive approach, they rethought climate action in a different light.

Virtual meeting with the Climate Career Portal team, who work remotely on the Iron & Earth project. Photo courtesy of Sally Lin

What is futures literacy?

We all have the ability to imagine the future, and how we do so affects our actions in the present. This project is about making sure that people gain the ability to use various ideas about the future to design their present. It is an invitation to return to sleep.

How did you come to these projects?

My mother brought me and my brother to Canada from China when we were little children. With my father in Shanghai, I needed to find the best job he could to support us well. The one he found was in mining. I have always loved nature, and as I grew up and learned about our destruction of the environment, we had many painful conflicts. I am highly motivated to help people of all ages find great jobs in the net zero economy without feeling like they are letting the people they love down.

Tell us about your professional career in Paris.

I grew up in Vancouver, but we frequently returned to Shanghai to visit family and friends. I was in Shanghai on an exchange from the University of British Columbia at the end of 2019 when the second semester was canceled and I had nothing to do. Many in my group of friends were heading to Paris so I decided to go too and fell in love with the city. I came back to Vancouver in the early days of the pandemic and finished my degree, but as soon as we were able to travel again, I found a job here at UNESCO.

Sally Lin hiking in China’s Sichuan province. Photo courtesy of Sally Lin

What makes your work hard and what gives you hope?

I once told a young father that I was interested in working on climate change and he replied, “Oh, that’s a very complicated problem and your life will suck. Good luck with that!”

I have thought a lot about this. The truth is that it is not a future catastrophe for the millions of people whose lives are becoming unbearable right now. It also seemed to be passing the problem on to me and my team and the other truth is that we can’t do it alone. We must all make the transition and we must all act.

The Iron & Earth team is made up of mostly young people, but we are showing people of all ages that there is a path we can walk with respect for our past and the new future that we all desperately need. My work at UNESCO assures me that human beings have not lost the ability to imagine.

What advice could you have for other young people?

Age discrimination is real, but raise your hand anyway. Be comfortable failing and don’t take the easy way out. Lean into complexity. Many small steps taken for the common good add up to a lot.

What would you like to say to older readers?

You have a lot of experience and you know how to fail and how to succeed. Tell us your stories. We don’t have time to figure it all out on our own.

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