Sophie Handford Interview: Councillor of Kapiti Coast, New Zealand, YOUTHTOPIA Circle of Youth

Sophie Handford has been a climate conscious activist since she first learnt the impact climate change was going to have on her community as a child. 

We must not “let perfect be the enemy of good” and prevent our progress. Handford explains how taking the first step is particularly crucial for organisations. She mobilized 3.5% of New Zealand’s school population for the ‘school strike for climate’ she had not anticipated that this would lead to the passing of the zero carbon act and a climate emergency being declared in her country. Someday, Handford hopes that this attitude will create “an ecosystem of change”.

Another concept Sophie Handford is articulate on is Leadership. As chair of the Strategy, Operations and Finance committee whilst being the youngest council member by 30 years, Handford has had to learn a lot about what it means to be a good leader and how to navigate difficult decision-making processes. She posits that “leadership is having the foresight to look ahead” and bears the responsibility of future generations when making decisions.

Handford has faced her fair share of challenges, both internally and externally. She is very candid in describing her experience of imposter syndrome and self-confidence, and also how much harder she often has to work as a young person to prove herself to earn the trust of the community and her colleagues.

Despite this Sophie Handford is not disheartened in her activism. She firmly believes that “being young is a superpower” because of the perspective that young people provide. The youth can work on the future knowing they will inherit whatever that future looks like, and this heightening of stakes can serve to improve decision making and offer different points of view on complex topics. Sophie is just getting started, with big ideas for radical overhauls of decision making systems and how she can further make use of her potential, maybe on a national level – watch this space.


YOUTHTOPIA is a collective formed of young people from all over the globe, inspiring and empowering themselves and others to become catalysts for positive change. 

London Speaker Bureau and YOUTHTOPIA have partnered to amplify the fresh, dynamic perspectives of these young visionaries. This will foster a collaborative environment of innovation that embodies commitment to the community, and accelerate the reshaping of industries, development of societal progress and creation of forward-thinking solutions to prominent global issues.

By working with YOUTHTOPIA, London Speaker Bureau hopes to create a synergy that enables individuals to work with companies to drive change and achieve a holistic impact greater than the sum of its separate parts.

Video Timeline

  • 00:22 – Who are you and what do you do?
  • 01:25 – Is there a moment that made you realise the need for change in your community or the world?
  • 04:37 – What’s a memorable story from your work as a changemaker?
  • 06:47 – What is key to tackling climate change that organisations don’t quite understand?
  • 08:07 – As the chair of the Strategy, Operations and Finance Committee of the Kapiti Coast District Council, how do you plan to leverage this role?
  • 10:23 – What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
  • 12:29 – What is the power of the youth?
  • 14:29 – If you could wave a magic wand, and change one thing in the world, what would it be?
  • 15:03 – What is next for you?

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