Asians with a Pur­pose

These in­di­vid­u­als with their pen­chant for mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, are push­ing them­selves to do their bit for the en­vi­ron­ment

Asian Geographic - - CONTENTS - Text Ra­jeswari Viki­ra­man

In­dia Ja­dav Payeng Farmer

Also known as the “For­est Man of In­dia”, Jadev Payeng cre­ated the man-made Mo­lai for­est on Ma­juli Is­land in As­sam – the largest river is­land in the world. What makes this feat more ex­tra­or­di­nary is that he did it all by him­self af­ter a re­for­esta­tion pro­gramme to ad­dress ero­sion and flood­ing was aban­doned. Payeng sin­gle-hand­edly planted sev­eral types of trees for over 30 years, re­sult­ing in an area where wildlife thrives to­day. Payeng in­tends to expand his for­est and aims to start a sim­i­lar project in other parts of the state.

In­dia Afroz Shah Lawyer & en­vi­ron­men­tal or­gan­iser

Re­cip­i­ent of UN’s top en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­co­lade - Cham­pi­ons of the Earth, the Mum­bai based lawyer and ocean lover Afroz Shah ini­ti­ated the world’s largest ocean clean up at Mum­bai’s Versova beach. With ded­i­cated vol­un­teers tak­ing over the ef­forts, he has now be­gun clean­ing the city’s long­est river – the Mithi river and pre­dicts this mis­sion will take at least 5 years, be­fore the river re­turns to its orig­i­nal state.

Philip­pines Naderev “Yeb” Saño Cli­mate ac­tivist

Filipino cli­mate ac­tivist Yeb Saño has ded­i­cated his ca­reer to fight against cli­mate change and has been do­ing so for over 20 years. In the year 2013 when typhoon Haiyan struck Philip­pines, he made an emo­tional speech that res­onated with many on the need for ur­gent ac­tion on cli­mate change. Con­tin­u­ing his com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment, he cur­rently leads theen­vi­ron­men­tal group - Green­peace South­east Asia.


Arthur Hung Struc­tural en­gi­neer & en­tre­pre­neur

Con­vinced that there was much more that can be achieved with the heaps of waste that was be­ing gen­er­ated on a daily ba­sis, struc­tural en­gi­neer and ar­chi­tect, Arthur Huang came up with Mini­wiz – a cut­ting edge in­no­va­tive re­cy­cling com­pany head­quar­tered in Taipei. Based on the model of cir­cu­lar econ­omy, the com­pany, un­der the lead­er­ship of Huang is re­spon­si­ble for sev­eral in­no­va­tions that con­tinue to chal­lenge the ex­ist­ing lin­ear sup­ply chain.

China Ma Jun En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist

Chi­nese en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Ma Jun has been cred­ited with cre­at­ing greater trans­parency by cre­at­ing a pub­licly avail­able data­base that re­veals the en­vi­ron­men­tal su­per­vi­sion records of var­i­ous com­pa­nies while also re­veal­ing the big­gest vi­o­la­tors of the na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards. Be­sides big brands like Ap­ple, Hewlett-Packard and H&M us­ing the data­base to mon­i­tor their sup­pli­ers, the data­base is be­ing ac­cessed by jour­nal­ists, NGOs and re­searchers who are ad­vo­cat­ing for change.


Me­lati & Is­abel Wi­jsen En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist

With In­done­sia be­ing the big­gest plas­tic pol­luter af­ter China, two teenage sis­ters in Bali took it on them­selves to change the sta­tus quo. They found an NGO – Bye Bye Plas­tic Bags (BBPB), while they were 10 and 12 years old with the aim of get­ting the pop­u­la­tion in Bali to say no to plas­tic bags. Their ef­forts have paid off with Bali ban­ning sin­gle use plas­tics in 2018. The sis­ters con­tinue on their jour­ney with their NGO which has grown into an in­ter­na­tional move­ment for youth em­pow­er­ment, while still fo­cus­ing on plas­tics.

“Pol­lu­tion is a se­ri­ous one. Wa­ter pol­lu­tion, air pol­lu­tion, and then solid haz­ardous waste pol­lu­tion. And then be­yond that, we also have the re­sources is­sue. Not just wa­ter re­sources but other nat­u­ral re­sources, the min­ing re­sources be­ing con­sumed, and the de­struc­tion of our ecosys­tem.” – Ma Jun







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