Author. Explorer. Advocate. Educator.
"My generation must decide whether we want our planet to sink or swim."
"My generation must decide whether we want our planet to sink or swim."
She's been called 'one of the leading voices for the environment for her generation' by Philippe Cousteau, an 'Eco Warrior' by David Smith, and an 'incredibly valuable force of nature' by Caroline Lewis of the CLEO Institute.
Delaney is a Marine Biology student at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science in Miami, Florida and splits her time between the cosmopolitan city of a few million people and a 1,000-acre island with 43 solar powered homes in the Florida Keys called No Name Key. Like the State of Florida, Delaney's life is surrounded by water and that's where her love for the environment comes from.
She is the Founder & CEO of an NGO, The Sink or Swim Project, and its popular website www.miamisearise.com, an educational and political advocacy organization focused on a variety of environmental topics including climate change and sea level rise.
She is also the author and illustrator of 3 children's books, as well as a comic book on ecology topics and is completing a new book on the impact of climate change and sea level rise in South Florida.
Delaney has been honored with the inaugural National Geographic Teen Service Award, the Miami Herald's Silver Knight Award for Social Science, the University of Rochester George Eastman Young Leader's Award, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, the University of Miami's Singer Scholarship and Foote Fellowship, amongst other honors.
She serves on the Youth Leadership Council of EarthEcho International, is an Ambassador for Dream In Green, and a member of the CLEO Institute's Leadership Circle, as well as the Miami-Dade County Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities Steering Committee.
Delaney has given a popular TEDx Talk, has addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City, appeared with actor/musician Jack Black on the National Geographic Channel's Years of Living Dangerously, with renowned world explorer Philippe Cousteau on Xploration Awesome Planet on FOX, and with Vice President Al Gore on MTV's 'An Inconvenient Special' Town Hall.
On World Oceans Day 2017, Delaney was invited by UNESCO, the World Heritage Marine Programme and the Everglades National Park to speak on behalf of the world's oceans at the United Nations. Delaney and a group of 31 other children from Marine Heritage sites all over the world presented #MyOceanPledge to the General Assembly inspiring them to sign the pledge promising to protect oceans for future generations. You can read more about Delaney's experience on her blog by clicking here.
In October 2016, Delaney had the great honor of introducing Former Secretary of State and 2016 Presidential Candidate, Hillary Clinton, and Former Vice President and the founder of The Climate Reality Project, Al Gore, at their Climate Change Solutions Summit, held at Miami-Dade College, in her hometown of Miami, Florida.
Scientists, teachers, students, and parents all joining arms with activists to march through the streets of cities all over the world for a single cause – science. That’s precisely what happened on Earth Day 2017 in Downtown Miami as thousands gathered for the inaugural March For Science Miami to support scientific research and evidence-based facts at an event that Delaney co-conceived and acted as Executive Outreach Coordinator and host.
The chant that echoed down Biscayne Boulevard from a power-packed rally at Museum Park, “Science, not Silence… Science, not Silence,” was broken only by a cacophony of horns and hollers of supportive passersby. An endless mix of Thomas Dolby’s 1982 hit, “She Blinded me with Science,” blared from more than a few Bluetooth boom boxes on wheels. The well-mannered but determined crowd ultimately landed at the Miami-Dade County Government Center for a huge Science Expo that lasted all afternoon on this glorious and successful day for science enthusiasts and practitioners.
When Delaney learned that the City of San Francisco had enacted a law requiring that the maximum amount of solar power possible was required on all new homes and material renovations she instantly knew that Florida, a place nicknamed The Sunshine State, needed such a law. San Francisco’s law (click here for a copy of their Ordinance) intrigued her and led Delaney to write a letter to a dozen local Mayors requesting that they consider implementing a similar law in their municipality.
Visionary Mayor Phil Stoddard of the City of South Miami, a resident of a solar powered home himself, was quick to respond and offered his support under one condition: that Delaney help him author the law. Their first meeting lasted nearly six hours, but it also laid the foundation of the Ordinance the South Miami City Commission passed with a 5-0 vote upon its first reading in May 2017 (Click here for the draft of the ordinance) and with a 4-1 vote upon its final reading in July 2017. The Solar Mandate became law in the City of South Miami in September 2017.
The law mandates that any new construction of a house or material renovation of an existing home must install the maximum amount of solar panels on its roof.
This historic law makes the City of South Miami the first City in the State of Florida and Florida the second State in the United States to have such a law and holds the promise that South Miami will lead the State of Florida into our sustainable future by turning the Sunshine State into Delaney's dream that we one day become THE Solar State.
Reynolds V. State of Florida
On Monday April 16th 2018 Delaney became the lead Plaintiff in a lawsuit against Florida Governor Rick Scott and the State of Florida (click here to read the lawsuit) in a project she'd been working on for three years. Along with seven other brave children from all over Florida, the lawsuit seeks to have the promises made in the Florida Constitution and The Public Trust Doctrine kept and that our Public Trust Resources including our atmosphere and waters be protected from man-made carbon dioxide pollution caused by burning of fossil fuels. Delaney and her friends believe that the State of Florida and its current Governor and his Cabinet, the Legislative and Executive branches of the government, have failed to uphold their duties outlined in the Florida Constitution and Public Trust Doctrine that obligate them to protect our natural environment and thus they have turned to the Judicial branch to bring climate justice to the State.
Delaney is joined by seven amazing co-Plaintiffs, the Floridians standing with her to fight for climate justice including Levi, Isaac, Luxha, Andres, Oscar, Oliver and Valholly. She's also joined by an amazing legal team of lawyers from all over Florida including Guy Burns, Andrea Rodgers, Meg Ward, Caitlin Howard, Dick Jacobs, Mitchell Chester, Sandy D’Alemberte, Wally Pope, Jane West, Erin Deady, Deb Swim, and Matthew Schultz.
Delaney believes that our planet’s warming climate is the most important challenge that her generation will face in their lifetimes and unless they solve the crisis, the impact to every aspect of society and environment could be catastrophic. That is especially true in South Florida, a community that has been labeled America’s ‘ground zero’ in the global warming war given the risks we face from sea level rise. Trillions of dollars in real estate, the entire region’s tax base, the health and welfare of millions of our residents, and the potential extinction of our environment are at risk during her lifetime if we do not solve this dire problem. We simply do not have a day to waste in educating our community about the problem and solutions.
Given the magnitude of these problems and her concern for our future, Delaney founded an NGO, The Sink or Swim Project, as a device to educate people about the risks our community and the world faces, as well as the solutions that we must embrace in the future if we are to solve this crisis. She gives presentations and lectures to groups ranging from elementary through high schools, colleges, and adult organizations. She is also deeply involved in political advocacy and lobbying on a wide range of climate and environmental issues at the heart of South Florida’s existence.
She has shared her message in live lectures to tens of thousands of people, distributed over 20,000 of her comic books, has had her written and video work viewed by nearly 200,000 people on social media, and has been seen by millions of people on television.
The CLEO Institute’s mission is to promote an informed and engaged public, better poised to become involved and make changes to support climate resilience locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. The CLEO Institute does this by bringing stakeholders from the community, business, scientists and students together in formal and informal trainings, events and forums to educate everyone on global warming and sea level rise. This work includes Introductory Trainings, Essential Trainings and Advance Trainings on climate change as well as our Answer the Question campaign and much more.
EarthEcho International is a nonprofit organization founded on the belief that youth have the power to change our planet. Established by siblings Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., and grandfather legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, its mission is to inspire young people worldwide to act now for a sustainable future.
Miami-Dade County has recently been named one of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 resilient cities. As a member of the 100RC Network, Greater Miami and the Beaches will also receive funding and support for Chief Resilience Officers. Miami-Dade County’s CRO, James Murley, and Miami Beach CRO, Susanne Torriente, and the City of Miami CRO, Jane Gilbert, will work directly with County and city leaders to develop a joint resilience strategy. This strategy will reflect the region’s collective needs and its capacity to address them, and will identify the support and services needed to implement that vision. It also involves coordination with the other 32 municipalities in the region.
Delaney, at the request of Chief Murley, proudly sits on the Miami-Dade 100RC Steering Committee as the only child providing Miami-Dade County the outlook on climate change and sea level rise mitigation from the perspective of the youth generation.
Ahead of the Tide is an independent movement including a 10 part video series that highlights the effects of sea level rise and climate change through the stories and voices of local Floridians. Each short video (5 to 7 minutes) showcases various aspects concerning sea level rise and includes interviews with prominent scientists, engineers, politicians, conservation directors, educators, authors, and activists, including Florida Native and acclaimed writer Carl Hiaasen and award-winning environmental activist Delaney Reynolds.
Delaney’s popular TEDx Talk took place at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall in downtown Miami and provides examples for how sea level rise has already begun to impact South Florida’s fragile environment and how this growing problem will soon be catastrophic if our community and country don’t urgently begin addressing it. She also discusses the work of The Sink or Swim Project and the fact that today’s children “Get It”; They understand that their generation must solve the problem, as well as some of the political challenges that our society faces as we work to change historic behaviors and seek new solutions to our world’s climate crisis.
On August 2, 2017, MTV aired An Inconvenient Special with former Vice President Al Gore, just released his newest book and movie An Inconvenient Sequel:Truth To Power. The special brought together rapper Fat Joe, DJ Steve Aoki, activist Delaney Reynolds, and an audience of young people with insightful questions who are fighting for the protection of their planet.
“A message of hope. A message of solutions. And the surprising thing was that it came from a kid. 16 years old and so filled with promise and potential and hope. Finally, I found some HOPE!”
- Actor/Musician Jack Black about Delaney Reynolds
Delaney’s work with The Sink or Swim Project was featured in the November 2, 2016 Episode ‘The Rising’ of the Emmy Award Winning Years of Living Dangerously series on the National Geographic Channel that starred Jack Black and Ian Somerhalder as correspondents. The piece focused on her work as an activist and educator fighting for social climate justice, her classroom lectures, her participation in community events such as the People’s Climate March and one of her core messages: “Kids Get It”.
Jack Black meets Delaney Reynolds, a 16-year-old climate activist from Florida. Some of the state's government officials don't think we should do anything about climate change, but young activists like Delaney are fighting to change that.
Xploration Awesome Planet is a riveting earth science weekly documentary series that explores the most spectacular places – on the earth, inside the earth, and above the earth. Philippe Cousteau Jr. is no stranger to exploration. The grandson of legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, Philippe hosts and serves as executive producer of the series.
In this episode, Predatory Myths, join Philippe and Delaney with the University of Miami’s Shark Research and Conservation Program on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico tagging sharks.
Visit the majestic and magical wildlife of No Name Key through the eyes of a fourth grader and meet the key deer, a manatee, a marsh rabbit, and much more.
Dive into the waters surrounding No Name Key through the eyes of a sixth grader and meet an eel, a hammerhead shark, the Florida lobster, and much more.
Soar above the tree canopies of No Name Key through the eyes of an eighth grader and meet a bald eagle, a woodpecker, a great heron, and much more.
Step into a time machine with Delaney and Dr. H. Two Oh to travel into the future to see what South Florida will look like if the global climate crisis is not addressed in time.
By: Julie Zeilinger, MTV News
By age 13, Miami Native Delaney Reynolds had published her third in a series of children’s book about Floridian ecology. But what started as a project to enlighten young people about the beauty of Miami's coastal environment turned into a somber realization about that environment's expiration date. Reynolds’ research led her to learn about “sea level rise,” the harrowing reality that while the levels of our seas have been stable for thousands of years, they've risen about 10 inches in the past century alone.
That may not seem like much, but this is already causing increased flooding and altered shorelines along coastal cities like Miami, Boston, and New York. And if things continue at this rate, sea levels could rise as much as 10 feet by the end of the century. The city of Miami could be underwater by 2100, and up to 2.5 million Miami residents could become climate refugees.
With high school graduation a few weeks away I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiences in the classroom as well as what I’ve learned while exploring our magnificent environment and the challenges that our ecology and society will face in my generation’s future. I’ve been fortunate to have hiked to the top of a volcano in the Andes Mountains, swam with Giant Manta Rays at night in Hawaii, chased White Tip Sharks over a coral reef in the Galapagos, slept under a sky illuminated by millions of stars in the Everglades and on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and watched lions, elephants, and giraffes roam in the wild while on safari in Africa.
And along the way I’ve been inspired by my teachers, the people I’ve met around the world, my family and friends here at home and most certainly the things I’ve seen in our beautiful, natural world, especially those related to the water. Whether the marshes of the Everglades and our colorful coral reefs, or our sandy shores and whimsical mangrove habitats, it is the water that always touches my soul.
By: Helaina Hovitz, Teen Vogue
Delaney grew up surrounded by water, splitting her time between her modern city and a remote, 1,000-acre island that housed just 43 solar-powered homes. In third grade, her class collectively wrote a book, Laws of the Universe, that inspired her to learn more about the environment she came to love so much.
She continued to research issues like rising sea levels and gradually learned about climate change and the significant threat that rising oceans pose to South Florida, and began to interview local political leaders, climate scientists, business owners, and others being impacted by sea rise or working on solutions to help them. Our planet's warming climate, she says, is the most important challenge that our generation will ever face.
Thousands participated in Miami’s “March for Science” on Earth Day and walked down Biscayne Boulevard wearing lab coats and holding up signs with rising seas, periodic table elements and vaccine shots.
They rallied in unison with the marches around the nation - fueled by threats coming from the White House to cut federal funding from agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Delaney has been honored by a number of prestigious institutions including: the George Eastman Young Leader’s Scholarship from the University of Rochester, the Gloria Barron Scholarship Prize for Young Heroes, and the Broward County Green Leader Award, as well as being a Miami Herald Silver Knight award winner in Social Science and being inducted into the CLEO Institute’s Leadership Council.