It Only Took One Opportunity to Change the World by Toby Thorpe (Youthtopia Circle of Youth)
My name is Toby Thorpe, I am an 18-year-old activist from Australia’s
southernmost community, the Huon Valley. For the past 6 years I have
been learning, marching, speaking, thinking and trying to change the
society around me to achieve climate justice. And it hasn’t been an easy
journey, that’s for sure.
My journey to becoming an activist started with a very small project in my
local town, repurposing used plastic bottles to build a hot house at our
community garden. That needed me to gain the skills in organising my
community, empowering my peers and most importantly learning about the society that surrounded me.
The most important part of this beginning is that it proved that no matter what background you come from, how old you are or where you live, you can be a changemaker.
I went to an underfunded public school, lived in an average low-income
family, and grew up in regional Tasmania, changing the world to me
seemed so far out of reach. But it took one opportunity for me to realise
that change is possible, and ANYONE can lead that change. To date, I
have been able to mobilise thousands, led global prize-winning renewable
energy projects, campaign against fossil fuel companies, be heard on the
world stage and most importantly share my experiences with my
That first local grassroots project launched my passion and also my
understanding to the global climate crisis that we all face. And, I know that
being a young person in today’s society can be overwhelming, not by just
feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders when it comes to tackling
climate change, but also as we face all the other major issues of inequality,
poverty and the ever present threats of warfare and violence.
But I also know that the power that we all possess as young people is
incredible and together, we hold the solutions to build a fairer and better
world for everyone.
When I think about my generation, I think of the power, the innovation,
intelligence, connectiveness and passion that is within us all. I see a vision
of a better world where young people take back their future, and I feel hope
for a better society to live in.
And that is why I think YOUTHTOPIA plays such an important part to
utilising the world’s most under-tapped resource, YOU! Change always
starts at the local level and sometimes we just need to ignite the passion
and be equipped with the skills to unleash the world of change that is so
To me, YOUTHTOPIA is providing that framework and supportive network
to feel powerful, connected and supported to be part of the change. It
motivates and inspires, teaches and mobilises us all to unshackle the
potential that we all have with in us. I am so excited to be part of the Circle of Youth to share my skills and experience with you all, but also to learn from the aspiring world’s largest active youth network.
About the Author
Toby Thorpe is an 18 year-old renowned Climate Activist and Advocate from Tasmania, Australia. Toby leads the development of student directed and experiential learning programs, through the Climate Leaders Program in Tasmania that supports hundreds of students in implementing projects to address climate action. Toby is currently the Executive Director at the Climate Justice Initiative, has attended and spoken at events accociated to COP24 and COP25, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in 2017 and 2018 and led award winning renewable energy projects. Toby actively advocates against the expansion and development of fossil fuel projects and fights for climate justice to ensure that action on the climate crisis leaves no one behind and puts equitable solutions at the forefront.