Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders

by Global Diversity Foundation
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Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Participants at Theater for Transformation w-shop
Participants at Theater for Transformation w-shop

By Nessie, Global Environments Network (GEN) Director

We are facing an ecological and climate crisis like never before. Biological annihilation of wildlife is currently leading us into a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history and globally, the past 4 years have been the hottest on record, and the 20 warmest have occurred in the past 22 years. According to Oxfam, in 2017, 26 people owned the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The list of environmental, political and social injustices, and crises, goes on but I shall stop here! Instead, I ask: what about the individuals and groups fighting to change this? What about those working to rewrite the story of our mutual, interdependent belonging in the web of life; those actively seeking solutions to ecological and social injustice? Well, some of them are part of GEN!

According to advocacy group Global Witness, those on the forefront of climate change impacts and campaigns are being killed in increasing numbers. Since 2002, the group has registered 57 killings of environmental activists in Peru alone, and these crimes often go unpunished. For the past few months, I have been asking myself how GEN can offer support mechanisms—including training, mentoring and capacity-building—to help those on the frontlines of environmental and social-change activism, and campaigning? Many face 'burn-out' and exhaustion from the highly pressurised systems they are operating in.

I feel it is one of GEN’s chief responsibilities to address this need and as a response we are developing and introducing two exciting features for our members: GEN Partnerships and GEN Project Packages. Through our ‘GEN Project Packages’, we will support our members—and those interested in GEN— to help steward their visions into a reality by offering opportunities to get project ideas off the ground, aided with an injection of seed funding, as well as support and mentoring from GEN Resource People and staff members. An example of this includes supporting and helping promote the Good Food March, in October 2019, with the Land Workers Alliance.

GEN Partnerships’ will build on the existing work of Global Diversity Foundation and GEN staff members in supporting and mentoring GEN members, tailored to their specific needs and aims. This will also include a focused approach on networking and linking relevant members together for collaborations, as well as advocacy support when needed. We have many other ideas in the pipeline for better serving and supporting our members, so watch this space! 

In other news, I am really excited to share that we have recently been awarded funds to cover three full scholarahips for GEN's Latin-American School for Food Systems Resilience (ALLSA), for those participants whom might not normally be able to attend, due to financial constraints. 

Participants discussing biodiversity inventories
Participants discussing biodiversity inventories
Emma Courtine (GEN Member) in discussion at GESA18
Emma Courtine (GEN Member) in discussion at GESA18
Participants in nature-connection workshop -GESA18
Participants in nature-connection workshop -GESA18
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Earlier this week, our Global Environments Network (GEN) core internal team got together (via Skype) to share updates of our work over the past few months, which included creating our communications and impact assessment strategies, producing impact interviews of GEN event participants, visioning and planning future GEN projects and toolkits, continuing to forge collaborations in the Network, and much more. We also brainstormed solutions for creating more efficient and effective ways of working as a remote, part-time, international team, which comes with its challenges! With Nessie based in the UK, Inanc in Cyprus and myself (Marina) in Malaysia—the three of us represent very different cultural, religious, ethnic and academic backgrounds and experiences. It is these very differences which add to the wealth and dynamism of our team, and is arguably one of our greatest strengths. We are drawn together by a common purpose: to work towards the success and expansion of the Network.

During our chat, Nessie raised the topic of working remotely: the challenges we face as we sit in our respective homes on a day-to-day basis without the conventional contact and access to face-to-face conversations that occur in a regular office. Don’t get me wrong, it does have its perks, such as determining my own hours and having self-determined flexibility. I get to spend time with my young child, before she heads off to school in the afternoon, who tickles me pink with conversations filled with humour, prompted by the innocence of childhood.

I mulled over what Nessie had said. Since the first Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) was held in 2011, I have been in awe of the diversity of participants gathered and the way they sacrifice three weeks of their summer holidays to better themselves, rooted in their passion for their countries and communities. From Munich to Bern, and most recently in Oxford—we have now held six summer academies—participants have brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to GESA, sharing their stories of success and challenges with their peers, and building on it with the immense knowledge brought to the table by our expert resource people.

GEN is a collective leadership network that promotes social and environmental justice. An important aspect of our events is that knowledge sharing does not end when participants leave, and to achieve this, we strive to facilitate connections, exchange and collaborations among GEN event participants and resource people, who are all a part of our growing network. Keeping these connections flowing and encouraging future collaborations, outside of GEN events, is something we are continually working on and exploring ways to develop. To date, those involved in past events have organised three Regional Academies: in Latin America (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), North America (Glimpse Lake, British Columbia) and the Mediterranean (Morocco), and collaborated in three Community Exchanges in North America (Capay Valley, California; Montreal, Canada; Sonora, Mexico) and one in Europe (Barcelona, Spain).

We are now excitedly looking forward to the upcoming regional academy in Peru: Latin American School for Food Systems Resilience. Carrying the theme “Transformative socio-environmental learning: fostering food systems innovation grounded in pluricultural dialogue”, the event will be held this September, driven by seven very impressive GEN Alumni from Latin America. Working to improve local livelihoods, resolve conflicts and restore environments, is a challenging task, and often, it is also very lonely. We are inspired by the efforts of our members, and because of this, we aspire to continue to provide the platform of GEN so that more emerging environmental changemakers are able to engage meaningfully with experts from other fields, to test and co-develop ideas to resolve socioenvironmental problems across scales, and to develop their vision and leadership in a network of peers.

Thank you for supporting global emerging environmental changemakers. If you would like to find out more about GEN’s impact, click here.

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[Photo by Inanc/Global Diversity Foundation-GDF]
[Photo by Inanc/Global Diversity Foundation-GDF]

At the second Global Environments Network (GEN) event this year, we headed to the beautiful landscapes of the Moroccan High Atlas. Named “Community-based management in the Mediterranean: Innovations in socio-environmental research and action”, this was the Network’s third Regional Academy—the first two were held in Latin America—and the first of its kind in the Mediterranean.

Fourteen participants from different Mediterranean countries gathered for this 10-day Academy (2–11 November 2018): the Mediterranean Environments Regional Academy (MERA). Through a range of holistic and cross-disciplinary learning approaches, including inspiring plenaries and roundtable dialogues, practical workshops, field trips, participant presentations, skills training and one-on-one mentoring sessions, participants were immersed in intense and in-depth learning. With a focus on cultural landscapes and seascapes, regional and international experts, known as resource people, were brought in to play the role of educators, facilitators and mentors for the participants. MERA was centered around four primary themes: local product commercialisation, rural livelihoods and the private sector; communal governance and management systems in the context of local and national government; policy, advocacy and the role of communities in promoting biodiversity-friendly cultural practices; and gender approaches to agroecology and food systems.

“The level of interaction at MERA was inspiring”, Nessie, GEN Director, said. “Participants were very forthcoming with sharing their personal stories and knowledge, and the challenges they face in their efforts to maintain the beautiful Mediterranean cultural landscapes and seascapes they live and work in”, she added. “For example, the peer-to-peer sharing during the community workshop on commercialisation—designed to analyse the existing situation of different plant and animal products within local areas—really allowed us to gain an understanding of the issues and opportunities surrounding potential commercial products. Together, we created a shortlist of a range of products to explore further”, Nessie explained.

Learn more about MERA in the photo story "First Mediterranean regional academy focuses on community-based resource management". Below are a couple of photos as a sneak preview.

Group discussion

As part of the policy, lobbying, advocacy and communication workshop, participants worked through two case studies of communal systems in small groups to strengthen their advocacy skills. Through this exercise, we provided the group with a framework that will support them to conceptualise and carry out advocacy campaigns at different levels to obtain political influence and build solid argumentation through communication and evaluation. [Photo by Pommelien/GDF]

Demonstration of plants

Thanks to a guided tour and demonstration at our host site, Espace Tamount, we discussed local plant products opportunities and their different uses and health benefits. Moroccan wild thyme for example is traditionally used to treat stomach pains, aching muscles and colds. [Photo by Inanc/GDF]

For more on MERA and our other GEN events, please visit the Global Environments Network website.

Thank you for your support!

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GESA 2018 participants Wangui, Irina and Rickie
GESA 2018 participants Wangui, Irina and Rickie

Thanks in part to your generous support*, this summer the Global Environments Network (GEN) hosted its sixth Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) at the University of Oxford and beautiful locales in the surrounding countryside. We delivered this year's GESA in collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute (ECI) and Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS).

GESA 2018 took place between 25 July and 12 August, bringing together twenty inspiring environmental changemakers from eighteen different countries, each with diverse and fascinating backgrounds. Through their time at GESA, we set out to provide them with new tools, skills, knowledge and a supportive network as they tackle some of the most challenging socioenvironmental issues of our age.

With a program comprised of three parts, participants were taken on a journey. We moved from deep personal inquiry and immersive nature connection, to learning how to build a communications campaign and hold courageous conversations, on into development of new projects and initiatives.

Here, through a collection of photos, we share elements of participants' journeys and stories.

1. The Opening Retreat

Image 1: The first part of this retreat was based on the transformative teachings of Joanna Macy’s The Work that Reconnects, a powerful set of tools for acknowledging one’s pain and sadness for the state of the earth, whilst simultaneously taking responsibility for one’s personal and collective agency for positive and socio-political and environmental change.

Image 2: The second part of the retreat involved Theatre of Transformation, a pioneering methodology of human development, education and training. Combining art with politics, participants learnt to weave poetry and theatre into their stories to bring vividly to life the challenges of global peace and security, and to activate diverse audiences around the world to become co-creators of positive change.

 2. Oxford University Academy

Image 3: Whilst the Opening Retreat focused more on inner work and personal development, this 9-day intensive academy focused instead on critical evaluation. Participants delved deeply into key issues underpinning our current planetary crisis. Joined by resource people from multiple fields, this portion involved inspiriting plenaries, group discussions, practical workshops and trainings, field trips, and one-on-one mentoring sessions. Here, participants take part in the session ‘Spiritual Activism’.

Image 4: One practical workshop focused on video making. Following a foundational theoretical component on the technical and ethical basis of filmmaking, participants spent an enjoyable day putting their new skills into practice. They experimented with the equipment to conduct video interviews, and produced creative short videos in small groups, which were later screened at a movie night.

Image 5: Each morning began with a ‘creative prelude’ led by one of our brilliant participants. Here, Emma, trained in circus arts, gives the group a lesson in acrobatics.

Image 6: Replacing conventional coffee breaks were the much-loved and legendary ethnobotany breaks, which have been a feature of GESA since our first academy in 2011. Every day, each participant shared a slice of their culture and home country by bringing samples of food and/or beverage for everyone to taste. The tasting was preceded by a short introduction or story to provide context and history to the food being shared. Here, Elif invited us to sample some sweet delicacies she has helped a Cappadochian Turkish organization to brand and market.

3. Practical (closing) Retreat

Image 7: The final phase was designed to create a space for participants to put their learning into practice. With that in mind, external communications experts joined us for a one-day session on ‘How to build a communications campaign’, around issues participants are passionate about. Finally, two full days were dedicated to project presentations. Each participant, either individually or as a group, was given the opportunity to share their future project ideas and collaborations.

With our 6th GESA successfully completed, we are excited that another twenty alumni, plus new inspiring and dynamic resource people, will now join the Global Environments Network (GEN). They add to its diversity and power, as well as its capacity to catalyse transformative social and environmental change in the world. Thank you for your part in sustaining this network!

*NOTE: Many kind donors contributed via this project in July 2018 to our new GEN initiative to enable Amazonian Indigenous communities to address malaria. All your July donations were successfully directed to that specific initiative. Your generosity triggered significant matching donations of essential supplies and medications in Venezuela: thank you! We will shortly post an update at the project’s own dedicated GlobalGiving page.

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Sunshine at work in the garden
Sunshine at work in the garden

With just under a month to go before the start of the 6th Global Environments Summer Academy, we are feeling the excitement build as plans fall into place. We have invited resource people from diverse backgrounds who will be bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to GESA this summer. Alastair shares with us his work around sacred activism, whilst Rama will guide us through the Theatre of Transformation. We will explore themes of gender, race and the environment, courageous conversations in the workplace and much more. We have designed a programme that retains successful elements from previous academies, while introducing new innovative ones; including dialogues between eminent elders who have spent their lives balancing spiritual wellbeing with activism and advocacy for a better world, and exploring the sometimes controversial concept of rewilding, not only as a process of bringing ecosystems back to life, but also bringing humans and their societies back to life through a renewed connection with nature. 

In this update, we would like to introduce our GESA 2018 participants. Through a diligent 2-stage application process that began at the start of the year and included a series of online interviews, we identified 22 finalists from over two hundred applications to invite to Oxford. It is an encouraging and exciting time. Encouraging, as we learn about the dedicated individuals working around the world who are focused on nurturing positive human-environment connections. Exciting, as we look forward to the gathering of these individuals, anticipating the depth and scope of discussions and connection that will arise through the sharing of ideas by participants who each bring a unique set of knowledge and experience. 

It was a challenge to choose one person’s storybu here we introduce Sunshine, a student of Ethnobotany, Health & Wellness in New Orleans. Sunshine launched her education and research project—the Global Community Knowledge Project—in 2010, as a way to expand her knowledge to better serve the greater community. Through her project, she worked on small farms and with small, traditional and Indigenous communities to learn about sustainable and organic food production, post-harvest handling methods, natural food preservation, traditional culinary techniques and recipes, as well as using foods and plants as natural medicines. 

In 2017, Sunshine began to merge her experience in the IT industry, culinary arts and sustainable agriculture into one venture in the form of a mobile app. AmnAya is a contemporary mobile solution that preserves traditional plant knowledge through recording sustainable growing techniques, recipes and folk usages as well as pairing each with existing western scientific studies on each plant, while working against biopiracy. Sunshine is currently developing her project findings through AmnAya and recently articulated eight points the app aims to address, including increasing accessibility of institutional knowledge to the general community, promoting community sovereignty and defeating biopiracy. Her plans are admirable, to say the least, and we look forward to welcoming her, and all the other GESA participants, on the 25th of July. And in case you are wondering, Sunshine is her real name!

We thank you for your support. Donations to this campaign supports the creation of these platforms: Global Environments Network’s summer academies, regional academies and community exchanges. Please consider making another donation to support GESA 2018, where participants like Sunshine, Rickie, Godelive and Maria will meet in an interactive setting that promotes shared learning, connection and multidisciplinary reflection.

 

A bit about Rickie, Godelive and Maria:

Rickie explores the ways in which the environmental justice and Black Lives Matter movements are part of the same struggle: a struggle against environmental racism, police brutality and above all, the violence of economic oppression.

With five years in the conservation sector, Godelive aims to create a positive change in her community by integrating biodiversity conservation, community health and livelihoods, agriculture, entrepreneurship and sustainable development.

With a background in Political Science and Economics, and Global Change Ecology, Maria, from Colombia, focuses on the pressing challenges of urban sustainability. In the photo below, Maria speaks at the Urban Nature book launch.

GESA finalist, Godelive (L, standing), from Rwanda
GESA finalist, Godelive (L, standing), from Rwanda
GESA finalist, Maria, from Colombia
GESA finalist, Maria, from Colombia
GESA finalist, Rickie, from the United States
GESA finalist, Rickie, from the United States

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Global Diversity Foundation

Location: Bristol, VT - USA
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Project Leader:
Nessie Reid
Canterbury, Kent United Kingdom
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