Inspiring talks highlight the power of environmental activism across the generations at Envision Racing’s Race Against Climate Change event in London.
There may be more than seven decades between them in age, but appearing at Envision’s RACC London event last month world-renowned ethologist and conservationist Dr Jane Goodall DBE and actor, musician and UN Environment Goodwill Programme Ambassador, Aidan Gallagher showed that passion, positivity and a powerful connection with your audience are some of the key elements that unite environmental activists across the generations.
They were speaking as part of a line up of high-profile guests from the world of sport, science, entertainment, policy and business at the Science Museum as part of the latest in Envision’s series of Race Against Climate Change events, which was also broadcast to a live global audience in partnership with New Scientist.
Dr Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, spoke of her journey from scientist to activist and the importance of hope in the face of such huge global challenges.
“I truly believe that we’ve got a window of time to make change, but it’s closing,” Dr. Goodall said.
“If people lose hope, if you don’t believe what you’re doing is going to make a difference then why bother? I say no, you can do something in your community, get a group of people together and do what you’re passionate about.”
She also gave examples of how her work with young people via her Roots and Shoots education programme, running in more than 60 countries, has helped create a stronger connection between school children who might otherwise have no real interaction with nature, and the natural world around them.
This connection, she stated, is vital in motivating the younger generations to play an active role in the fight against climate change and the biodiversity crisis.
Aidan Gallagher, who at just 14 became the youngest UN Goodwill Ambassador ever designated within the UN System, agreed with the importance of reaching out to children and young people with a message of hope and empowerment. He told his personal story of how he first became concerned about the environment when he was just nine years old, growing up in LA.
“I wanted to go surfing one weekend when it rained, and my dad said we couldn’t go because of all the pollution from the land that washed into the ocean,” Gallagher said.
“It seemed like a really massive thing to me, and then came the curiosity side of things.”
This curiosity and his search to find answers to some of the environmental problems he noticed around him was something Aidan began to share with his significant online fanbase.
“I got into social media and started getting information,” he said.
“I began to get a following on social media and it was a natural pivot to share and repost information that we get from experts to show it to as many people as possible.”
Both Dr Goodall and Aidan reminded the audience of the growing urgency in taking action to tackle the climate crisis and demonstrated that everyone, no matter what their age or circumstance, can be a part of this collective action.