If you follow Open Team on Instagram, you’ll know that we have been posting some portraits of some of the amazing people we met at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, last December. This has been a fun way for us to show you all the wonderful people behind the work of some of the world’s leading sustainability movements and organizations. Their contributions to the race to solve climate change have been detrimental, and we were honored to see all the smiling faces of the changemakers behind the work.
We began our COP24 Portrait Series with Susana Yalikanacea, an inspiring organic farmer from the Fidji Island of Viva. Discreet, humble and always smiling, this go-getter managed to switch this first Fidji island to fully organic! Believe it or not, but what’s sure is that it took a lot of convincing with the island’s elders at first. She also had to prove her organic farm model with her husband’s land, and she empowered women in the process, while having a role in the government (which helped!).
The fight is never over. Recently the government wanted to build a treatment plant on the island, but the council managed to refuse as the island would have otherwise lost its organic status.
Check out her work with The Ministry of Agriculture Fiji here.
Next is Zakir Shahin, an inspiring organic farmer from Bangladesh, whom we met at COP24 last December. What’s so special about Zakir, hidden behind his humor and humility? During the past 20 years, he managed to switch to organic his whole community of 700 households in West Bangladesh. And the cherry on top is that he made it with zero funding coming from abroad. “This way we are completely free and independent from investors”, he says with a big smile of accomplishment.
He is very eager to share his knowledge and learnings around him, so he’s a great person to team up with for our Scale School project. And the learnings never stop, as you can see on his face. For example right now while trying to deal with the local municipality’s new urban projects which are impacting the access to water for his community. We cross our fingers that he can overcome yet this new mountain!
Learn more about his work at Farmer’s Voice, here.
Juna Shrestha, a social entrepreneur from Nepal based in Switzerland, whom we met in Poland at COP24. She is the founder of ClimateRe, building a new insurance scheme for small-holder farmers to enhance their climate resilience.
Her concept is based on the habit of sharing within communities locally. For example, by creating a “common pot” where each farmer can bring in what valuables they have- thereby building up the community’s insurance.
See more of her work with ClimateRe here.
Meet Jabukja Aikne, a precursor organic farmer in the Marshall Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
We met at COP24 around a talk on how Pacific agricultural systems can thrive in an emissions-constrained world.
This passionate farmer was mandated by the government to launch organic farming, and so he did! He loves to tell the story of his farm, which is just one year and a half old. “I have fruit like guava that you would think would never grow here, because the soil is so sandy. The solution is compost. With lots of compost you can do well. I have lots of flowers too…” He has become a role model about how resilient agricultural systems prove to be productive and efficient while reducing GHG emissions. And the potential is huge: the agriculture sector makes up over half of Pacific Island employment. Agricultural products make up a higher share of Pacific Island trade than in any other region of the world.
Learn more about Jabukja here.
We hope that sharing the stories of these changemakers and the work of their organizations inspires you to do your part in solving climate change. Change can only begin when individuals work together towards a communal change. Howard Zinn once said, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
We look forward to continue to spread the word about these inspirational changemakers as we add to our collection. Follow us on instagram to see the latest COP24 Portraits as we continue the posting the photo series, or stay tuned for Part 2 on the Open Team News Portal.