One of the best things about working in our field is coming across incredible people who are really making a difference in the world. These are people whose energy and commitment inspires us even on days where it feels we are moving backwards! Our list is incredibly long but we thought we’d share just a few with you to hopefully spread a spark of inspiration.
You can’t really work as an environmentalist in Sri Lanka and not have come across John Wilson. John is a protected areas specialist and his knowledge of Sri Lanka’s protected area (PA) network is second to none (by a long shot!). The first time we met John, he absolutely blew us away with his expertise and we’ve been ringing him with questions ever since! But it is not just knowledge for knowledge’s sake, John is an absolutely tireless supporter of PAs and sits on the Board of numerous environmental organisations, as well as working alongside officials to drive improvements in the protection of our precious biodiversity. John, we salute you!
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jacinda Ardern
We went for the female leaders making a change on the global scale for this one. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is U.S. Representative for New York's 14th congressional district and Jacinda Ardern is the Prime Minister of New Zealand. As the youngest ever incumbents of their current roles, both show a break from the mold of more ‘traditional’ politicians and have been praised for their leadership on especially challenging issues, AOC on sexism in the US and Ardern on handling New Zealand’s terrorist attacks and coronavirus crisis. They are fighting hard on the environmental side too; AOC is a passionate advocate for the Green New Deal and Ardern’s government passed its Zero-Carbon Bill in November last year. We are inspired by their strength in how they stand for change and lead with both expertise and empathy.
The World Resources Institute (WRI)
The WRI is a global research organisation working to ensure the sustainable use of the world’s natural resources, following the mantra of: count it, change it, scale it. We love the practicality of everything the WRI does – their projects are designed to be used immediately to make change where it is needed. For example, their Global Forest Watch platform uses satellite monitoring to allow companies, governments and other interested stakeholders to monitor and take action on deforestation happening anywhere in the world. They also recently launched a tool called TerraMatch, which links corporates with reforestation projects looking for financial support. These practical solutions make a huge difference for organisations like ours and also inspire us when we are designing our own projects.
Basically all of them..
The global youth activist movement at the moment is awesome! Obviously you have Greta Thunberg single-handedly igniting global protests but also youth leaders in every single country. This week we came across Liz Wathuti, an incredible environmental activist in Kenya and founder of the Green Generation Initiative, which has planted over 30,000 seedlings to date. We were also inspired by Katta O’Donnell, an Australian student who took her government to court last week for not making climate change-related risks clear to investors in government bonds. Here in our home country, we love working with the team behind Extinction Rebellion Sri Lanka (Melani, Ranmini and Avishka), who focus on bringing awareness, news and facts about environmental issues to the public. To quote Greta, “no one is too small to make a difference” and all of these activists inspire us with their passion and fearlessness.
The Front Line
We recently read Alex Dehgan’s book: “The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation”. This book describes his work to build a series of protected areas in remote and war-torn parts of Afghanistan. See our full review in our book club blog here but suffice to say, Alex’s work makes our day-to-day challenges look like a bit of a walk in the park..! We are constantly inspired by people we meet working on the front lines of conservation and how they give so much of themselves, sometimes even risking their own safety, to protect the nature we love.
This is probably going to sound like a bit of a soppy note to finish on but we really are inspired by all our donors. A random act of kindness from someone often far away in the world boosts our faith in humanity every single time. The generosity we are lucky enough to receive is just incredible and keeps us inspired to power on.
A huge thanks to everyone on this list and to all the others too numerous to mention here who stand up for the environment and inspire us every day. Thank you!
Who inspires you? Log in to share in the comments.