Episode 6

October 28, 2023


The Business of Biodiversity

Hosted by

International Wildlife Coexistence Network Josh Adler
The Business of Biodiversity
For the Wild Ones
The Business of Biodiversity

Oct 28 2023 | 00:44:35


Show Notes

Where can we find hope as we climb "the mountain" of restoring our biosphere and how can business play a positive role?


Featuring Denise Taylor PhD PIEMA, co-founder of Wylde Connections with a mission to help businesses become sustainable by paying attention to their corporate social and environmental governance and their sustainability strategies. Her 30+ years working in environmental education on an international level, has allwoed her to witness first-hand the effects and impacts of our anthropogenic activities. Dr. Taylor created Wylde with her daughter to empower businesses and leaders to do the right thing.


With music by Priya Darshini, Semion Krivenko-Adamov - Metamorphosis and Paradise Gardens

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Host: Where can we find hope in this time of transition and change for our society and planet? And how can we find ways to connect with each other through this process? And how do we make space for some new visitors in our gardens? All of that and more on this episode of for the Wild Ones. [00:00:24] Guest: You. [00:00:30] Host: I'm your host, Host Adler. For the wild ones is brought to you by the International Wildlife Coexistence Network. This episode's guest is Dr. Denise Taylor, founder of Wild Connections, a sustainability consultancy built on her years of expertise as a wildlife educator. Now Denise is helping young people and businesses climb that great big mountain of sustainability. [00:01:20] Guest: We hope for humanity. So that's pretty good too. [00:01:25] Host: Yeah, the hope is that's that's something that I'm I'm looking for support for, actually. So I'm glad to hear you feeling that. Yeah. What is it that is spurring your hope? We're climbing a lot of big mountains right now. This has a lot to do with humanity as a species, kind of adapting from this very narcissistic species, as it were, to something that is more integrated, more holistic, more tuned into everything around connected. Yeah, connect key. [00:01:58] Guest: We were talking about that today, and I'm very passionate about education. So the two go very much hand in glove and making those connections between people in nature and getting them reconnected when they've lost that connection or if they've not really had it in the first place, particularly young people. They've not had those opportunities to get young people out into a natural space and do some really great work with them, whether that's nature based or art based work. It's really profound and can be very rewarding. And certainly for them, it's very transformative. [00:02:35] Host: It's something that was very much a part of our conversation with Suzanne was this connection and offering people who haven't had that opportunity to really connect and feel like they're part of the natural world, that opportunity is an educational opportunity. It's kind of a basic human education. [00:02:52] Guest: Opportunity when we work with young people here. I live in a part of the Midlands in the UK. Called Warwickshire, and it's quite rural. We don't have the wilderness that you have in such a big expanse of land in the States, but we have forests and woodlands and wild spaces as much as we can here in the UK. But when you've got urban kids and you take them from the cities into a woodland space, a lot of them have never been there, even though it's on their doorstep, so they're just not exposed to it. It's really bizarre that they could easily get on a bus or even in some cases, walk out there, but they're just not brought up with that exposure. A lot of them, the inner city. [00:03:34] Guest: Kids, I do work with a foundation. They bring college age students who haven't been out of the city until that age, mostly, and then up to a nature preserve. It is always a powerful experience for them. [00:03:46] Host: Yeah, it's quite profound, isn't it? Yes, and scary for them as well. And that's even without introducing, as you have over there, any predators into the situation that they may need to be. [00:03:57] Guest: Fearful of or not doing our best with predators. But it's challenging, as you know. [00:04:02] Guest: Yeah, I know, but even here, people have a fear of bugs and spiders and anything that moves. [00:04:09] Host: Usual echo of the connectivity issue that we're discussing, though, too. People are not connected to bugs, they feel like it's a threat, or connected to predators, they feel that they're a threat. So these fears that come up around, lacking that relationship with the natural world, play out on this huge global stage. predatorial threats, food scarcity for resources, habitat sharing, that is on the front lines of if we're going to have a biosphere to share, if we're going to have resources for humanity. [00:04:46] Guest: Yeah. And also the attitudes which we've discussed before about our narrative around certain species as well. So we've both worked in wolf conservation and it's that narrative of the other ascribing that other to an animal, so that it can be maligned and therefore misunderstood and therefore treated in some of the vile ways that we treat species. And we've got the same here in the UK, where I've been talking about the badger a lot just lately, but it's very much maligned now and as a species. And the first thing that people say to me when I meet people who don't understand badgers is, oh, they're diseased, aren't they? Because we have this whole thing going on with bovine tuberculosis here in the UK. And it's not a badger disease, it's a cattle disease, and it's cattle to cattle transmission. But the government has been so virulent is the only word I can think of in pushing out this perception of the badger as being something that's a nuisance, a pest, Bermin diseased, whatever you want to say. Everybody's got the attitude towards it now and it's so wrong. [00:06:00] Host: We see the same inaccurate narrative in the States, where the same kind of narrative is coming out of policymakers about bison, about wolves and other creatures that are painted this way in terms of some kind of disease threat, mostly towards livestock. [00:06:23] Guest: Right, yeah. And it's the same issue here. It's livestock. Badgers here are a protected species, and that's the issue. It's not the animal itself, it's that it's protected and quite rigorously protected. So really is a crime to do any set interference and any interference with the badger whatsoever. So, basically, the National Farmers Union, which is a very powerful lobby here in the UK, wants to see them pretty much wiped out. We've had many years culling now, and they've been killed in their hundreds of thousands now and going against the Burn Convention, because we're now seeing local extinctions. And now they've started to put into place this epidemiological call, which is being advocated to wipe out 100% of the badgers in certain areas, which is just the badger isn't the problem. It's cattle biosecurity that's the problem. It's not the badgers. There's no scientific basis for this culling policy. It's slaughter, slaughter of healthy animals, tens of thousands every year. It's just horrible. [00:07:39] Host: The meta population suffers and eventually collapses because of lack of connectivity. It brings us back to this importance of connectivity and ecology too, right, where it's this culling of local populations that decreases the viability of passing on genetics that actually build a population, dana population throughout the region, or the meta population. We see this, too, in other populations. [00:08:08] Guest: And then also badgers are nature's engineers. So they're very beneficial to their ecosystems and habitats. Their seed dispersers, they disturb the soil, so other species have benefit of that disturbed soil, so they're very valuable in that ecosystem. They've got a key role to play. But none of that is discussed in any of the narrative here. None of that about how beneficial species like the badger is and the fox and there are our top predators, if you like. Now, badgers are omnivores, but they're our top two charismatic species these days because we don't have the wolf any longer. We got rid of the bearer a long time ago. Well, have some small populations of wild boar. They've been reintroduced back in. But apart from that, that's it for us. Our biodiversity is very, very lacking. We're in the bottom 10% globally in the UK and we shouldn't be. [00:09:06] Host: Well, when you're lacking that kind of apex predator layer, it's hard for the entire ecosystem to really flourish. [00:09:14] Guest: Yeah. And even function, let alone flourish, even to function, it's very depleted. We have a situation here where there are large landowners, so we've got the farming and agricultural side of things, and we've got lots of chemicals being put onto the land, which is destroying the insect species. So we literally have our silent spring here. I've just been out on a woodland walk now, and we should have clouds of insects everywhere now, and we don't you rarely see those clouds of insects anymore in a kind of an urban woodland space. So that's all disappeared. And our nocturnal species people never see anyway. Our hedgehogs are in decline, everything else is in decline, birds are in decline. It's only a few success stories, really, so it's quite depressing and we need to do something about that. I think what I'm feeling now and what I'm sensing is there is a growing movement to want to do something here. And I think getting young people involved in that, this next generation, so they can then start to pick up what we're trying to do now and take it forward. Getting young people involved and advocating and campaigning and lobbying policymakers, that's where we need to be. [00:10:34] Host: It feels like a lot of youth activity happening. It feels like there's a lot of engagement from younger generations around this, which is very encouraging. [00:10:44] Guest: Yeah, I find hope in that as well. We spoke about hope earlier and I'm very hopeful that you've got the juxtaposition of it because you've got the consumer still the consumerism in the younger generation. And there's things online now that encourages them to consume a lot more and a lot more disposable items. There's things like this new TMU platform that's just spread across the internet and you can buy goods for a very cheap price and it's just awful consumerism, it's really bad. And some of the TikTok stuff that goes on that just encourages that. But then on the other side of it, you've got young people who are really passionate about this stuff and campaigning to just stop oil, for example, we have here, and extinction rebellion. So there's a lot of young people getting caught up in those movements and going into conservation jobs wherever they can find them as well, wanting to have that connection with nature, we just need a lot more of it. Certainly here in the UK, they're starting to bring nature based studies back into the curriculum now, and that was missing for a long time. That's a positive step. [00:11:54] Host: That's fantastic. I haven't heard any kind of introduction of such things and curriculums over here. The young people, though, they get there, they get to the front lines of this thing and then they see that they encounter the mountain and as you've described it, they see that it actually is this mountain, that it's not this one day it's just going to all change. Maybe one day we'll wake up, maybe it will have change, but it will be from lifetimes of devotion by many, many people, but also coordinating our efforts. It's one of the hardest things I see is being able to move from very ambitious targets, such as the one Step forward at Cop 15 and the Global Biodiversity Framework, looking for some targets. All areas are under participatory integrated biodiversity, inclusive spatial planning and or effective management processes. By 2030, at least 30% of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland, water and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration. By 2030, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories into wider landscapes, seascapes in the ocean, we're seeing some of that. And then we have target four, which is minimize human wildlife conflict for coexistence, which is really such a big piece. People are really familiar with restoring ecosystems, maybe reintroducing species, but then people have to be able to live with those. [00:13:26] Guest: Species, they have to be able to live with species. And if they've never had that connection and you're still seeing species as other, it's difficult because even here in the UK, we don't have the space that you have. And people are very precious about their gardens, for example, that's their space. And you have anything that encroaches on their gardens, whether it's a mole causing mole hills or a badger coming in and digging up their lawn. There's just such a negative perception of all of that. And their first resort is, well, how can we get rid of it? As in lethal control. So it's trapping or killing in some way. And that's still a very prevalent attitude, that things are pests and vermin and nuisance and there's no real thought about coexistence. And again, we are seeing some movement towards wildlife friendly gardens, and that's what I'm doing within my business. [00:14:25] Host: We have a lovely marmot in our garden. When they show up, maybe we'll say, oh, they came to visit. They came to visit us. They came to say hi, or we might enjoy trying to think of a name for, oh, look, there's “Babs” in the garden again. And that's very different than what the perception is about badgers in people's gardens. [00:14:48] Guest: In the UK, we do have people who welcome them, but equally, we have people who just want to get rid of any creatures. I had a situation on our village Facebook group this week and somebody had put on, we've got moles in the garden. What should you know? Nice lawn, mole hills everywhere. And there were quite a few comments that said, well, trap them. And I don't know whether you know much about mole trapping. It's pretty vile. [00:15:13] Host: They're incredibly intelligent. [00:15:15] Guest: And again, they're nature's engineers. They're beneficial to the soil, so they're moving and aeriating the soil and they're doing lots of things underground and just happen to pop up and you have a mole hill. It's not the end of the world if you got a molehill in your garden, or several. I have them, and there are ways that you can discourage them. So sonic devices, I find, work really well to discourage them, but you can rake it over and they'll go away eventually and find somewhere else. They have to travel some distances to get what they need. It's a tiny little creature. It's not doing that much harm. You would expect that we could at least coexist with the mole. It's not doing an incredible amount. Badges can cause a lot of damage. They can dig the whole lawn over and uproot, plants and everything else, looking for grubs and worms. But again, why can't we coexist with them in those garden spaces? Everybody wants these pristine gardens, and I think we've got to get away from some of that attitude as well. And look at how we can coexist when we're in those urban spaces, and especially those urban spaces on the edges of fields and meadows and woodland where species will come in. We're encroaching on their territory a lot of the time with these new developments, and you're basically building houses on their foraging grounds. So where are they going to go? They're going to go in your garden. New development goes up. Hello, badgers. [00:16:44] Host: Why can't we just make space for them, knowledge that it's part of their habitat and just make spaces, badger beds or badger kitchens. [00:16:52] Guest: This is that whole attitude. They're an invisible species, largely because they're nocturnal. And this is the problem we've had with the wolf. It's a nocturnal animal. I remember talking to Vladimir Bologov in Russia. We went to Russia to do some wolf work many years ago now, but we were traveling through the villages with him and he took us through one particular village and he said, I'm doing some work here. Non lethal control, pretty much like Suzanne was doing, and continues to do so using balloons and noise and all sorts of different techniques. And he was talking to the villagers and engaging with the villagers, and they weren't even aware that the wolves were coming through because they were coming through at night, nobody had seen them. And he said, you know, you've got wolves coming through at night, and they were like, no, we haven't seen them. And so they were just unaware because they're just not around, are they? Unless you're on night shift or whatever, you just wouldn't see these animals. And in this particular instance, in this village, as in many villages in rural Russia at that time, they had dogs, so they have a guard dog, but they generally tend to be outdoor dogs and they generally tend to be chained into their kennels. And Vladimir was concerned that there would be attacks on the dogs because the wolves would be coming through and the dogs had nowhere basically to go if they were chained. So he was warning the villagers that there are wolves present and you need to take your dogs indoors at night or put them in the barn or something. [00:18:24] Host: Really big run lines, I'm imagining really big running lines for the dog so they can run entire perimeters along these, not run away. [00:18:34] Guest: Right, yeah. But it's patient, isn't it? [00:18:37] Host: An awareness, but also looking for solutions rather than just elimination, annihilation exactly. Resorting to big shift in people's attitudes they're used to. First option is, well, we got to get rid of this, and it shouldn't. [00:18:53] Guest: Be the first option. I think education is the key, but we just don't have enough of it. We just need to get people out in nature in whatever way we can. And even nature on your doorstep, even the nature that you're sharing your house with the little bugs and the things that share your house and your garden. I've got a wasp nest out in the garden, I've got ant hills, I've got all sorts visiting foxes, visiting bird species, and it's wonderful to see all of that. Why would you want to destroy it? [00:19:27] Host: But you're also working with the business community. [00:19:30] Guest: Yes. So in my business, wild connections, basically what we do is we help companies to develop and implement their sustainability strategies and that cuts across the whole piece of what's being termed environment, social and governance. So it's that ESG conversation. So it's bigger than net zero. Everybody seems to be focused and fixated on net zero, but we take companies beyond all of that and get them to truly embed sustainability in their business. So on the environmental side, I make sure that biodiversity and any planetary concerns are very highly on their agenda when we start to educate them about the environmental aspect of ESG. And so what we're doing is we're putting projects in place over this next few months. I've created the framework for a course which will be a hybrid course that will be part online delivery and part in person delivery. And it's called embrace your inner wild. We're going to do a play on our wild because we're called Wild Connections. So we're going to do a play on that, of course. But I've got eight modules in that that are highly relevant to business. So the second module in after we've done the introduction is all about ecosystem services, because no business on this planet can exist without ecosystem services. Everything we do comes from the resources that the planet gives us. Businesses need to be cognizant of this and aware of where their materials and everything that they do comes from. And so we'll do quite a big piece on ecosystem services. But I was just talking to a client this morning who's of the same mindset that I am in helping young people, but also that connection with the natural world. And we're going to look at how we can get companies on their premises to create things like wildlife gardens and plant for biodiversity. Because when you think of factories and you think of business premises, we've got a lot in this country on business parks where there's a lot of land that is either just it's lawned or it's very sterile. They plant with architectural type plants and they're beneficial to no species at all. They look good, but they're not really useful or beneficial. But what we need here is our indigenous native plants that are attracting the pollinators and attracting the smaller creatures and allowing space for the bowls and the shrews and the hedgehogs and everything else to traverse. These huge business parks very often seem to put all these perimeter fences up. And how can wildlife travel through corridors when they're just meeting fence after fence after barrier after barrier and then they hit a road and then they hit a rail line and we're just really encroaching on all their space and territory. So what can we do to get businesses to be aware of this? And first of all, not kill anything that they don't need to kill on their premises, so don't have this destructive approach to it. And then the next thing, how can we make those spaces better? Not just for wildlife. We're working with a client who makes outdoor furniture from recycled plastic. Hugely sustainable, hugely beneficial. He's making bird tables and hedgehog boxes and all of that. So can you imagine a beautiful garden at work where you go and sit out and eat your lunch and you throw your food waste into a compost bin. You've got the pollinators coming, you're attracting the birds. How lovely is that for your mental health and well being? The businesses then have a very, very tangible reporting line that they can then put into their sustainability reports. We've got the task force for nature related financial disclosure being launched in a couple of weeks in New York City. The Task Force is basically talking about that triple bottom line at the moment. We have economic systems which are very focused on GDP, gross domestic product and on profit and nothing else. So it doesn't account for the ecosystem services that you're using or any of the social benefit that you've got to society. So it's all about profit. What the Task Force for Climate Related Financial Disclosure does, and the TNFD, which is the Task Force for Nature Related Financial Disclosure, is start to bring the environment and the social aspects into financial reporting. And businesses will be required, it will be legislation to report on their impact negative and positive. So if they're doing more things as part of their action plan and their roadmap in their strategy, they can then start to report on that in a positive way. We're encouraging businesses to have that positive, regenerative, transformative mindset. So we have a staircase, it's a sustainability staircase and it's got several steps to it, starting from non compliance. So if you're a business and you're not compliant and doing bad things, basically breaking laws, potentially it goes up to then just being compliant and then beyond compliance. And then the final two steps are having an integrated sustainability strategy. And then the final step, we have it in a green zone, is being a purpose led business. So you're a benefit to society and the environment. So your sustainability is embedded in everything you're doing. And it's with a purpose, with the planet in mind, with society in mind, that's in the donut economics, the Kate Raworth model of the donut being the social foundation and the ecological ceiling and the donut in the middle is the safe space for humanity and we teach our clients all of that bigger picture stuff. So it's a part of everything we do and we've created a load of courses around it because what we're hearing here in the UK, and it's probably the same elsewhere in other countries, is the net zero narrative. And of course, net zero is just about being less bad. It's not about being restorative and regenerative and having purpose. It's just about, well, how can I be less bad? I'm just going to reduce my emissions. And a lot of companies are doing that kicking and screaming. But if you change the narrative and say, well, there's economic advantage for your business here, there's competitive advantage to doing some of these great things, look at your product design? How can you do it more effectively with better materials? How can you design out waste? How can you use the circular economy? How can you innovate for competitive advantage? How can you use models like Servitization, where this is advanced services on top of your manufacturing that you're getting revenues for, but you're having more positive impact through doing that because you're using different business models that have more positive impact. So there's all of that that we kind of go through with clients and giving them access to that rich resource of learning, if you like, because a lot of them don't know this stuff. We've got a course at the moment for one of our government led organizations, innovate UK Edge, and we're training their managers on sustainability so they can have meaningful conversations with their clients, the businesses that they're helping. And they're not aware of this bigger picture. They don't know about things like planetary boundaries and nested models and donor economics and all of these different things that you can actually do for competitive advantage. This isn't about it's business or the planet, it's how can we have business in a positive way that serves us all, serves humanity, but serves the environment and other species as well. [00:27:25] Host: When you introduce them to these options, to these staircases, to these new opportunities, in terms of how they can manage their business from a much wider perspective that's better for all life, what do you see them choosing? What do you see your clients reaching for? How are they responding to these? [00:27:46] Guest: It depends on the business and the industry they're in. So we have a client, for example, in the construction industry and they're a third generation business and chairman of the business now, is very passionate about all of this stuff. And he's made it his business in the last few years to educate himself. And so I had some wonderful conversations with him, very deep conversations. But the value set that has been passed down to him, from his grandparents to his parents to him, are all around those social values. So people are important to him and to the business. And so the culture of the business is very socially driven and wanting to help people to achieve their potential, but also having that positive impact. And when they started doing the strategy with us, there was one particular woman who championed the sustainability strategy work. She really got on board with it, she was an estimator and straight away they started having conversations about how she could take responsibility for this. And she's now the group sustainability manager and doing some wonderful stuff. So the biodiversity and the environmental side of it is all part of this mix now because they've empowered the social side of it, they've empowered the culture and people within that culture to take action. And it's wonderful to see they're having some really positive effects. One of their recent projects is a new manufacturing division and they manufacture doors for cold stores. They basically install cold stores for refrigeration which has social benefit as well. When you think about food production and where we're heading with that. But right from the outset of setting up the manufacturing arm they were looking at the lifecycle of the product. Where are we getting our raw materials from? How can we do it better? What's the end of life of the product? How can we design it so there's less waste or it can come back into the system? How can we truly have a circular economy for that particular product and bringing their big customers along with them? Because these are big retailers like Tesco's and Asda and Waitrose and all of those. So how can they influence them to help design out that waste in the choices that their developers make when they're building these coal stores? So they really are embedding sustainability into their business across all their business operations and then you have others who are in a different space who might be looking at how they can benefit the environment. So we work with two or three facilities management companies, usually water intensive in particular but typically the cleaning industry uses a lot of chemicals and the businesses that we're working with don't use any toxic chemicals. They do use chemicals but they're not harsh on the environment. Water is a chemical so you can't say they're chemical free. So we've had to help them change the narrative on that a little bit. But they use water systems that really drastically reduce the water consumption in cleaning and lots of different techniques and strategies that they're using to reduce their impact, their environmental impacts and also look at the social impacts as well. So they have things like they won't have 0 hour contracts, they don't support the gig economy. They pay people a fair wage, a living wage, we have a living wage foundation here and above that wherever they can and really look after their staff and help them empower them and give them benefits and tools that will help them in their daily lives in their communities. Because the facilities management industry is a low paid industry and you don't very often see those benefits coming through but these companies in particular want to do the right thing so it can be done and it gives them advantage because now in tenders and contracts what you're seeing is well, what's your sustainability strategy? What are your sustainability credentials? And it's now becoming a differentiator in contract winning. So again, there's a business case to be had. [00:31:57] Host: It's fascinating to hear how you're seeing the solutions provide both the social impact and the environmental impact that once companies start encountering these options considering the sustainability pieces of their management, their operations they look for solutions and they're there actually that improve the business. That's encouraging, that's hopeful to hear in. [00:32:24] Guest: Terms of yeah and if I can get more. And more businesses thinking about biodiversity, which is where I'm heading with A lot Of The stuff we're doing over this next year that Would Be really great. Because still, what happens is business leaders and managers, they'll go into work, go into the business, and it's still Very Much Divorced from What They Might Do in Their personal lives. So they might be great hikers and go rambling and do nature based stuff in their personal lives, but the minute they walk through the office door or the factory door, it's all siloed and compartmentalized. And they don't see the connection very often between their business life and the impacts they're having and biodiversity and what they might do in their personal lives. Joining those dots. So I want to do a lot more outdoor work with business leaders so we're developing them as leaders, but in the outdoor spaces where they can make those connections again. [00:33:22] Host: In Quebec we have this cultural notion of plenaire lifestyle which is an approach to career, recreation, creativity, education as an integrated kind of lifestyle with the outdoors, with nature, but also it's part of the artistic culture of European region in terms of plenaire painters who might enjoy their work outside. It's also part of Japan and the kind of pilgrimage culture if we instill. [00:33:58] Guest: That from a young age and bring nature back into schools and as you're going into business and integrating it into business, I think we can see a lot more positive impact if we can have those things happening on a much much bigger scale. [00:34:17] Host: In terms of “the mountain” though, what's it going to take to get us up that mountain of transition, of paradigm shift in time for us to have a flourishing biosphere? [00:34:33] Guest: I see business as one of the key opportunities, definitely see business as having a very very strong role to play because there is that disconnect at the moment. We can get businesses collaborating, thinking about this stuff. They're much better at being able to influence policy, especially the larger businesses. So if you can change that mindset, to think about these things more deeply and to think about the bigger picture of sustainability, I think we can achieve a lot through business. But to do that you need to present the business case. It's got to be a business case because even with the construction company who's very on board with this and I would say they're in that purpose led zone of the staircase, they still have a business to run and mouths to feed and that's a social benefit as well, of course, and community benefit. But they have to be sustainable financially as a business so you have to take that into account. But I do think they are the key to this and then the other key to it is our education system and we've got to be getting them connected with nature. But we've been talking about this for a long time and that's why I say there's still a huge mountain to climb, because it still feels like there is a huge mountain to climb. And I get little pockets of hope when I have talks with my clients and conversations like I had this morning with a client who managed they're a waste management company and they manage a lot of waste and they're trying to make it so that as little waste as possible goes to land. So they're doing this with purpose as well, but they're hugely passionate about developing young people, so education is quite a key. And I work with a project in Uganda called the Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network. And the Uganda arm of it is Chrysalis, Uganda. And they've got a program called the Butterfly Program and they educate and train social entrepreneurs and so they teach them all about business in a different way. They use strategic board game as a way in, so getting them to think critically and reflexively and to challenge the status quo on things and to learn ethics and responsibility and accountability and to understand how businesses operate so that they can be self sufficient in their communities and help their communities to flourish. And that's a hugely, hugely successful program. It started in 2009, I've been supporting it for a long time, well over a decade, and the first cohort of butterflies, they're now in their mid twenty s and running some amazing businesses that are doing environmental and social good and benefiting a lot of people without damaging the planet. There's nice farming projects going on. One of my mentees, he's running an agritech business, so he's helping subsistence farmers get their produce to market so that they've got an income and a livelihood without being ripped off and all those wonderful things. And two years ago they built a school. So they're bringing kids in from very poor rural areas and training them up so some of those will go on to become butterflies, but they've also got an athletics program, so any sponsorship and donors who contribute to this need to help sponsor the running track. And so they've got a para Olympian now who's training the kids and they're achieving some fantastic times, almost Olympic record times for their age group. They're a few seconds off some of the records and these are the athletes of tomorrow and it gives hope to those as well. But they're learning about climate change, they're learning about city, they're learning about regenerative farming and lots of different initiatives that they're getting underway. So education is a massive part of it and if we can do it in Uganda, we can do it everywhere. [00:38:36] Host: Can you do it in Idaho? [00:38:38] Guest: Because that's you've got some great kids in Idaho though, haven't you? [00:38:42] Host: We do have some fantastic kids in Idaho and some really good people in Idaho. Yeah, Idaho is full of wonderful people. It is. [00:38:52] Guest: And I know we all see the negative with your policymakers, who we really need to have that change of the government and the policy and that I don't want to get into politics too much into this. [00:39:05] Host: But the thing we see in the narrative, the political narrative, is that decision makers are choosing anecdote over science, this kind of scare tactic, narrative version of an animal or a species that doesn't line up with the species in reality that is on the ground in people's lives. [00:39:26] Guest: And now we're back to the badger. [00:39:29] Host: Connection. [00:39:30] Guest: Same thing. [00:39:31] Host: It's the same thing, yes, but helping decision makers shift towards scientific led outcomes is a big part of the shift where there are political conflicts right now. [00:39:48] Guest: And what drives all of that narrative with them is the short termism and this old economic theory that's outdated now because the original economic theories that GDP is based on, it wasn't designed to be how it's turned out. It wasn't designed to serve humanity and to serve the planet. If you've read Donut Economics, that explains all of that. And we need to get back to having our economic models serving us better, because they're not serving us at all now. Far from it. And build the short termism and the narrative, and there's a lot that's invested in that, quite literally and metaphorically, until we get away from that. And this is where I kind of see business playing a role. When you start to create the leaders that we need, the responsible and ethical business leaders, then they can start to influence policy. I'm only a small business, but I'm going to keep banging this drum, I think. [00:40:53] Host: Well, it's bringing a lot of hope to me and probably to the people listening to this. It's bringing a lot of hope. You banging that drum in so many different ways and making so many different connections throughout business, community education, youth communities, decision makers. Thank you. Well, I can provide you some hope now, perhaps, as well, because, for instance, Mexico, one of the most biodiverse nations on Earth, just approved something like 13 or 20 new national parks preservations. We're seeing gains, too. In Ecuador, the people just voted to kick out the oil company favor of the nature preserve. [00:41:36] Guest: Yeah, and that is encouraging, isn't it? That does give us room for hope, I think, and more of that would be just amazing, because nature will repair and restore if it's given the opportunity. You can see that can happen and it can do it very quickly. I've got a marshland down just down the road from us. It's a nature reserve and it was mined and quarried and within a decade, it's now such a wonderful biodiverse hotspot. The quarry areas have turned into wonderful pools and lakes and we have migrating species of birds that stop off here and it's amazing. And the badgers there are very safe and protected and there's all sorts of wildlife going on and it's a lovely space, but it's only a small footprint it's nothing like the amount of wilderness we ought to be having for nature to really flourish. Yeah, there are some positives. [00:42:34] Host: I think it's amazing to witness it restore like that. [00:42:38] Guest: Yeah. [00:42:38] Host: That nature does respond when given a chance and giving a foothold. [00:42:42] Guest: It does. And so what you've just said about Mexico is just really encouraging. Yeah. That'd be interesting to watch, that one, I think. And what happens? [00:42:51] Host: We'll keep watching. [00:42:53] Guest: Yeah, we'll keep watching. And of course, we've got the International Wildlife Coexistence Network, which is doing amazing stuff, as right. [00:43:01] Host: That's right. [00:43:02] Guest: We need to mention that. [00:43:04] Host: It's true. We're doing quite a lot. We're always trying to do more, but we're doing our part. [00:43:09] Guest: Yeah. And what I like about some of the latest stuff that we're looking at through the Iwcn is that we're focusing on some of those species that don't get the attention, like the insect world. [00:43:20] Host: Well, the insects are connected to the predators are connected to what's on our yeah, the whole the whole thing. We got to understand as much of it as we possibly can so that we can learn to coexist. [00:43:35] Guest: Coexist in a community that's connected. [00:43:39] Host: We're finding our way. It feels like we're finding our way. [00:43:43] Guest: Yeah. [00:44:02] Host: Thanks for finding your way to this conversation. I'm your host, Host Adler. This is for the wild ones. Brought to you by the International Wildlife Coexistence Network. Please subscribe and share this series if you like what you're hearing. Until next time, keep the hope alive, stay connected, and stay wild.

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