Jane Goodall spreads the word of con­ser­va­tion

The re­spected pri­ma­tol­o­gist is com­ing to Greece for three lec­tures to en­cour­age the pub­lic to be more aware of their im­pact on the planet

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY VICKY KATEHAKI

Peo­ple must “choose wisely” what kind of im­pact they have on the planet, Dr Jane Goodall tells Kathimerini in an in­ter­view about the work be­ing done by the Greek branch of her Roots & Shoots ini­tia­tive and ahead of her visit to three Greek cities on De­cem­ber 9-11 to spread the mes­sage of con­ser­va­tion.

The Bri­tish sci­en­tist, who is known for her work with chim­panzees in Africa and is also a United Na­tions Mes­sen­ger of Peace, said she is look­ing for­ward to “spread­ing a mes­sage of hope in Greece, rais­ing aware­ness about our work, and urg­ing peo­ple to help us in our ef­forts to make this a bet­ter world for all.”

She has also ex­pressed con­cern about an­i­mal abuse in Greece, as Dr Anna Kat­o­gyriti, the head of Roots & Shoots Greece, told Kathimerini.

Kat­o­gyriti said the last email Goodall sent her re­ferred to the mis­treat­ment of don­keys on the is­land of San­torini, an is­sue which the two sci­en­tists are plan­ning to ad­dress. This will be your sec­ond time speak­ing in Greece. What are you hop­ing to see and achieve with this visit com­pared to your last one?

Dur­ing my last visit, led by Anna Kat­o­gyriti, we de­cided to ini­ti­ate, with a cou­ple of won­der­ful vol­un­teers, the Jane Goodall In­sti­tute’s Roots & Shoots pro­gram for young peo­ple of all ages, from kinder­garten to univer­sity (which is now ac­tive in some 80 coun­tries). Ev­ery­one ex­cept Anna was new to me. This time I shall be meet­ing with peo­ple who be­came my friends, as well as new peo­ple. And I shall be able to visit some of the projects that have been launched, and hear first-hand about oth­ers.

In 2016, I was only in Athens. This year I shall be vis­it­ing Thes­sa­loniki and Irak­lio for the first time. On Crete we shall be cel­e­brat­ing a new and ex­cit­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum of Crete af­ter dis­cus­sions with [its di­rec­tor] Dr Moi­sis My­lonas. And I am very happy to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the beau­ti­ful city of Thes­sa­loniki. I look for­ward to spread­ing a mes­sage of hope in Greece, rais­ing aware­ness about our work, and urg­ing peo­ple to help us in our ef­forts to make this a bet­ter world for all. Dur­ing your last visit, you had said that your main mis­sion would be to try to grow Roots & Shoots in schools and uni­ver­si­ties. Has this goal been achieved? Could you give us some ex­am­ples re­gard­ing the work that has been done in some Greek schools up to now?

I know that mul­ti­ple Roots & Shoots projects have been ini­ti­ated through­out the coun­try, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to Athens, Thes­sa­loniki, Pa­tra, Crete and Karpathos, to name a few. In ad­di­tion, I know that the core team in Greece has grown and we now have trusted and pas­sion­ate vol­un­teers in Athens and Thes­sa­loniki who have helped in fa­cil­i­tat­ing sem­i­nars for ed­u­ca­tors and have par­tic­i­pated in var­i­ous events to pro­mote chim­panzee con­ser­va­tion and the R&S pro­gram.

I hear also that dur­ing 2018, JGI Greece suc­cess­fully launched schol­ar­ships for Roots & Shoots projects – mean­ing that five teams re­ceived mini-grants. Hope­fully, in the fu­ture, it will be pos­si­ble to pro­vide more fi­nan­cial help to stu­dents who have thought of valu­able projects for peo­ple, an­i­mals and the en­vi­ron­ment.

All of these ac­com­plish­ments have been made pos­si­ble through the tire­less and ded­i­cated work of our Greek vol­un­teers and one paid em­ployee, as well as through sup­port from won­der­ful part­ner­ships that started in 2016 with non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion SciCo (Science and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion) and the Bri­tish Coun­cil – both of which have sup­ported the of­fice in Greece since its be­gin­ning – as well as from re­cent new part­ner­ships with other re­spected or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­sti­tu­tions, such as the Na­tional Geo­graphic team in Greece, the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum of Crete and the Univer­sity of Crete. You al­ways in­spire us with your won­der­ful lec­tures, and we’re look­ing for­ward to your next one. The ti­tle is “Rea­sons for Hope.” Could you give us some in­sight into the things that can make our so­ci­ety more hope­ful, not only in Greece but glob­ally?

We are go­ing through dark times al­most ev­ery­where these days, with the po­lit­i­cal swing to the far-right caus­ing ma­jor prob­lems both for the en­vi­ron­ment and for peo­ple. Greece has not only had to cope with eco­nomic re­ces­sion mak­ing life ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for many peo­ple, but it has also had to cope with a flow of im­mi­grants flee­ing war and cli­mate change. Many sci­en­tists are main­tain­ing that, be­cause of cli­mate change, poverty, the un­sus­tain­able lifestyles that so many of us have, and the grow­ing hu­man pop­u­la­tion, we are al­ready on a down­ward tra­jec­tory with no hope of re­cov­ery. But I be­lieve that we have a win­dow of time – per­haps only a small one – when, if we get to­gether, we can at least start to heal some of the harm we have in­flicted on Mother Earth. I have rea­sons for hope.

Firstly the en­ergy and com­mit­ment of young peo­ple when they know the prob­lems, when we lis­ten to their voices, when we em­power them to take ac­tion. Roots & Shoots is all about rolling up sleeves and tak­ing ac­tion, and ev­ery­where I go there are young peo­ple ea­ger to tell Dr Jane what they have been do­ing to make the world a bet­ter place.

Se­condly, the one way in which we dif­fer most of all from other an­i­mals is the ex­plo­sive devel­op­ment of the hu­man brain (how bizarre that the most in­tel­lec­tual crea­ture to ever walk planet Earth should be de­stroy­ing its only home – there seems to be a dis­con­nect be­tween our clever brains and our hearts, love and com­pas­sion). But science is be­gin­ning to come up with new tech­nolo­gies that will help us live in bet­ter har­mony with na­ture, and we are be­gin­ning to find ways that we, as in­di­vid­u­als, can leave lighter en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­steps.

Thirdly, na­ture is amaz­ingly re­silient. I have seen so many places that have been ut­terly de­spoiled by hu­man ac­tiv­ity but which, given time, have once again be­come beau­ti­ful as na­ture re­asserted it­self. And there are many an­i­mal species that have been res­cued from the very brink of ex­tinc­tion and given an­other chance.

Fourthly, there is the in­domitable hu­man spirit. Peo­ple who tackle the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble and refuse to give up. Icons like Nel­son Man­dela, who was re­leased from prison af­ter 17 years of hard phys­i­cal la­bor in a lime­stone quarry and, with his amaz­ing abil­ity to for­give, was able, with F.W. de Klerk, to lead South Africa out of the evil regime of apartheid. There are peo­ple who rise above dev­as­tat­ing phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties and in­spire those around them. And those who man­age to re­build their lives af­ter a whole va­ri­ety of eco­nomic and so­cial prob­lems.

Every one of us has that in­domitable spirit, though in some it seems trapped within. We must re­lease it in these dark times. We must re­al­ize that every one of us makes some im­pact on the planet, every day. Let us choose what kind of im­pact we make, let us choose wisely.

De­spite the fact that we are liv­ing in ‘dark times,’ Dr Jane Goodall is op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture thanks to in­formed young peo­ple, sci­en­tific ad­vance­ments, the re­silience of na­ture and ‘the in­domitable hu­man spirit.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.