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