Green leaders: Four inspirational Kiwis.............
Element’s pick of the bright young people forging a new order.
Generation Zero, Auckland
To Aucklander Phoebe Balle, the Waitakere bush formed a huge part of her identity growing up. An eco-warrior since the tender age of five, when she rescued a river in
the Ranges from pollution by littered-nappy (a feat involving ankle-dangling over a waterfall), she attended the Make A Difference (MAD) marine youth leadership in her seventh form year, which “aroused my latent enviro-daemon within”. Stumbling across
Generation Zero after an overseas sojourn, Balle knew she had really come home. “Generation Zero is a cornerstone of the Youth Climate Movement of Aotearoa. We are
a bustling wh nau of collaborative, solutions-focused youth from across the country who see the opportunity climate change presents to redesign New Zealand’s political
priorities and cultural fabric”. We are at the crossroads, says Balle, and we have a chance to build an exciting future. “I have a vision of seeing future generations of kiwi kids bragging to each other
about how their ancestors were pioneers of the decentralised cross-partisan, multiethnic national climate movement that successfully reminded the people about what
really underpins everything we hold dear in the world”. When not flinging her arms wide and spinning Julie-Andrews style in the Meola
mudflats, Balle studies ecology, sociology and te reo at Auckland University.
Oceania regional coordinator, 350.org
Aaron Packard first learned about anthropogenic climate change while dabbling in ecology and development studies at Victoria University. The confusing figures and graphs surrounding climate change motivated him to make it user-friendly, allowing people to engage “in a way that was fun and understandable”. After completing his Masters he joined up to 350.org in 2008. “It seemed like a perfect fit. [350.org] were taking an obscure number related to climate change (350 being the safe concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere), and aiming to make it one of the most well-known numbers in every corner of the world”. Packard now works as the Oceania Regional Coordinator for 350.org and is especially passionate about working in the Pacific Islands and leveraging Pacific voices in the international arena. “The generation of young people living in many of the Pacific Islands now are facing a future where they’ll lose their homes in the coming decades. That’s something I can’t just stand by and watch”. According to Packard, climate change has been removed from the scientific world and placed in a political context. He sees New Zealand’s response to climate change as “unintelligent, deeply uninspiring and ineffective at reducing emissions.” Despite the frustrations and inertia, he remains upbeat; “Amazing people are mobilising to action. Not just to stop the expansion of fossil fuels … but to paint the vision for a cleaner and healthier world, that’s renewably powered - and keeps the Pacific Islands above water. That’s what I’m working toward.”
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