Fighting for our planet has never been more important. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement saw 195 countries unite to take a stance against climate change. Despite resistance from political elite climate change deniers such as Donald Trump, the earth has seen some astounding environmental achievements in 2016.
More countries around the world are ditching fossil fuels in a bid to reduce pollution and reduce carbon emissions: last year, Costa Rica impressively powered the country for 271 days on renewable energy, Sweden provided 51.1% of its energy with renewable sources, and the USA is ahead of schedule by nearly 12 years in its efforts to reduce coal usage. In more good news, giant pandas, tigers and manatees are all to be removed from the ‘endangered’ list as conservation efforts see their numbers growing, and the largest marine reserve in the world will now protect Antarctica’s penguins and whales.
As people increasingly realise the value in protecting our environment and the detrimental effect of modern human society on the natural resources we often take for granted, it is important to celebrate the achievements of those leading the way to a more sustainable future. With an ever-growing global social consciousness, young people are leading the way with fresh and innovative ideas — and some of our own Generation T Listers are creating of an eco-revolution on our very doorstep.
Laurel Chor: The Conservationist
Formerly the multimedia producer for news site Coconuts Hong Kong, Laurel Chor uses her skills as a photographer and journalist to communicate to audiences the pressing environmental issues of today, and her award-winning journalism has covered critical conservation topics from deforestation to climate change. Her love of animals and, consequently, conservation, has led her into many thrilling projects. Her conservation mission went global when she headed out to the Central African Republic to work with gorillas, and the following year saw her using her multimedia talents to go undercover as an ivory buyer in the Democratic Republic of Congo for an exposé documentary.
After meeting her idol, primatologist Jane Goodall, she was named ambassador of the Jane Goodall Institute Hong Kong. With a grant from National Geographic Young Explorer and the support of the National Geographic Society, Laurel has also launched Hong Kong Explorers Initiative. The project aims to compile a database of Hong Kong’s plants and animal life, highlighting the biodiversity of the city and encouraging the public to engage with their natural surroundings. Laurel’s achievements were recognised last year at the Women of Hope Awards 2016 – we can’t wait to see what her next big adventure will be.
Michael Leung: The Urban Farmer
Having a garden in Hong Kong is almost unheard of, but Michael Leung has found a way to transform our concrete jungle into a leafy paradise and has turned a passion for food into an urban farming project, HK Farms. Exploiting the abundance of empty rooftops in the city, Michael’s entrepreneurial spirit has led to a variety of green gardens and mini ‘farms’ cropping up everywhere from Yau Ma Tei to Ngau Tau Kok, helped along with fertiliser produced from food waste provided by local businesses.
Not content at just helping Hong Kong get its five-a-day with over 30 different herbs, vegetables and fruits growing over our heads, Michael’s second project HK Honey focuses on raising awareness about the benefits of bee protection and sustainable honey production. Michael’s eco-conscious ambitions are leading the way for a fresher-faced Hong Kong, and building community spirit in the process.
Sacha Van Damme: The Eco Designer
The reality of urban living is often at odds with nature, but Sacha Van Damme is trying to bridge that gap. The founder of Perma Club has made it his mission to use permaculture principles to inform sustainable design and promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. The company’s motto — care for people, care for the Earth and share the surplus — gives a good indication of the kind of inclusive and socially conscious enterprise she is running.
In an attempt to resolve the environmental issues plaguing Hong Kong and the world, Perma Club runs workshops from its site in Clearwater Bay to educate and inform participants on issues such as organic farming, fermentation, water management and air pollution. Not just content to spread the word and raise awareness, the Perma Club site itself demonstrates some of the simple and innovative creative ecological solutions we can use to tackle these global issues. If you’re looking for the roots of change, then this is the place to go.
Sean Lee Davies: The Advocate
TV presenter and model Sean Lee Davies might not strike you as a fierce advocate for the environment to the casual onlooker. But his passion for conservation, environment and health led to him setting up the non-profit Project C:Change in 2011, an organisation that raises awareness about the detrimental ecological issues facing our society through art, media and photography.
Motivated by the lack of environmental awareness in Hong Kong, Sean uses his public platform to campaign for government policy change on issues such as the ivory trade, pollution and recycling. He’s previously spent time in Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands filming a documentary about threatened animals, and his most recent project, Love is Wild, is a photography exhibition for a charity auction. These funds are donated to the charities and organisations who can protect and enact change on our environment. More than an eco-warrior, Sean is a social influencer using his powers for good.