With the year coming to an end, I have invited fellow weMORI team members into the space of reflection. Time travel it is! Inviting you to join us - kicking off with deeper exploration with Ian, followed by a few words shared by our volunteer dream team: Kenny, Jo, and Swetha. Let's goooooo!
What are the two biggest highlights of the year? Ian: Most certainly, the Ghana project is the biggest highlight. It’s fantastic that we’re part of an initiative that ultimately gives us the opportunity to plant trees in an area as vast as 200ha. Knowing how big of an impact this will have is truly rewarding and I hope all of you reading this are feeling this as well, because you are as much a part of it, as all the weMORI team members.
Name an event you may label as a failure and what you learned from it. After we launched the app, things haven’t gone as anticipated. By now we are not accepting donations thru that channel. It is a failure because we aspired to have this successful app and make an impact globally, but it didn’t happen. In hindsight, I see that yes, momentum is very important and it has the potential to carry you far, however, there are two other puzzle pieces that are as crucial and that is strategic thinking and a realistic approach to what we do. Neither of these were really present at the time. Another lesson here is that perseverance is extremely important. As much as we failed with the app and didn’t succeed in making an impact with it due to, what I’d call now naive assumptions, it did lead us to the Ghana project and a massive impact. So was it really a failure? Or was it a way for us to learn important lessons, while adjusting along the way, seeing what works and what doesn't, while carrying the passion and love for this planet? What is one of the successes that stands out the most? The ultimate success is that weMORI still exists. It touches upon the perseverance I mentioned earlier. There have been many chances to throw the towel and give up, one being when the app didn’t turn out to perform as we envisioned. Looking back at our history, I’m overflown with gratitude. Gratitude to all the donors who have been supporting us in getting where we are by sharing their resources. Gratitude to all the volunteers who’ve helped do research, write articles, and establish connections that allowed us to form partnerships and co-create projects. Grateful for our partners, who trusted us with their time, energy, patience, and equipment in the shared vision of a more beautiful world. Is there any specific data that you'd like to share? Yes! We have approximately 270,000 trees committed - that stands for the total number of trees planted already and those we know for certain that will be put into the ground. This number encompasses all of our projects, starting from the crowdfunding campaign, all the way to Ghana project and another recent development of 10,000 trees planted in Madagascar. What were you initially very excited about that didn't turn out as anticipated? Again, I’d need to say - the app. We were so hyped about it. And it was contagious because it was authentic. We invited the world into our trust and hype and many saw what we saw, many saw the potential and that brought us to a super successful crowdfunding campaign. We raised funds for the app and it was a dream coming true. We believed in making an impact with it and yet, despite putting all we had gotten into it, we couldn’t deliver on what we promised and envisioned. I struggled with that and I believe, other team members struggled as well. I’m sure we disappointed some people, and some others most likely lost faith in us, because we couldn’t deliver what we were so certain would be a great success. Just imagine - an app that allows you to protect and restore forests while making it inclusive, easy, and fun! What a dream... A dream that invited us into the space of some hard lessons, perseverance, and trust in what we do overall, ultimately showing us many other ways to make the impact weMORI exists to have.
What is a highlight or something that stands out when looking back at your experiences with weMORI in the past year?
Kenny: “What comes to mind is increased knowledge and awareness. Contributing to the newsletter has brought on a bit of curiosity because I want to know more about what I’m writing about. Reading articles for the newsletter sometimes results in me doing more in-depth research about the topic. I have to say it has pushed me to read and garner more knowledge about the environment.”
Jo: “I would say that a highlight this past year has been collaborating with young future change-makers who share the passion of creating a regenerative world filled with beautiful forests. It is amazing to interact with youth that care for our planet and who take action; I have learned so much from them.”
Swetha: “This year my commitment to weMORI has been quite different as I was primarily into creating a list of articles for monthly dispatch. Working on that helped me to become more aware of the recent developments and downfalls in multiple areas including biodiversity. I attended COP15 and it was eye-opening. It was an extremely motivating environment filled with passionate people from all over the world. I attended a few side events and my experience of working on the dispatch helped me to easily relate to the discussions. Earlier I was picturing weMORI as a small dot inside a huge circle called earth, trying to protect the earth. In the COP, I was able to sense the other dots, (i.e) other people, who are striving for the same cause. COP also made me appreciate the efforts of all the members of weMORI, who are turning into progress. I believe this is a hopeful start for the new year.”
AROUND THE WORLD 🌏
THE 30-YER JOURNEY OF THE EARTH WARRIOR
“When we plant a tree, we give something back to Mother Earth. We are convinced that the more trees we plant, the more people will be happy.” These are the words of Constantino Aucca Chitas. Aucca, which means ‘warrior’, was encouraged by his grandparents to live up to his name and fight for the land. He has spent the last 30 years as a warrior of mother Earth and was officially named a Champion of the Earth for Inspiration and Action by the United Nations. His interest in the area was born out of his fieldwork as a biology student in Cusco, Peru, which was at the time facing a lot of challenges from fires to illegal logging. Ever since Aucca has worked in the field of conservation and encouraging local communities to protect forests in South America. He founded the Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) in 2000 and has since planted over three million trees in Peru.
Some of the world’s most diverse forests and ecosystems are said to be in Latin America and the Caribbean. By continuing on this path, the benefits are estimated to be astronomical. By restoring degraded ecosystems, we are able to positively impact communities and keep global warming below 2°C and help societies and economies to adapt to climate change.
Aucca stays centered and guided by the principles of “Ayni and Minka” which are a part of his Incan heritage and refers to a “deep commitment to working together for the common good”.
It’s been over thirty years but Aucca doesn’t seem to have plans to slow down and is in fact looking to focus on other Andean countries. With minds and determination of this kind, we can only expect to be propelled into an era of positive environmental changes.
A VICTORY FOR BIODIVERSITY It’s amazing what can be achieved when we come together. However, coming together and getting to a consensus isn’t always an easy road, especially when heads of state are involved and the different interest groups are to be represented. But COP15 had a victory this year and Christmas was not the only thing to celebrate this December.
The United Nations Biodiversity Conference ended with a victory for all and one that will “protect the world’s lands and oceans and provide critical financing to save biodiversity in the developing world.” A key element of this agreement is the pledge to protect 30% of important biodiversity lands by 2030. Our ecosystems are depleting but this global agreement can still have a positive impact as we are still within that zone of influence.
Though many see this as a win, as it has a good balance and unlike past biodiversity documents, the indigenous rights formed part of the discussions. However, some say it’s a “mixed bag” as it focuses on biodiversity and the needed financing. Still, at the same time, it has failed to address the drivers behind biodiversity loss, so the effectiveness of the agreement could be diminished by not looking at these drives of negative change. Regardless of where you stand in the discussion, we can admit that this is a victory in the fight against biodiversity loss.
WHAT WE'RE READING
The emergence of a new type of carbon credit at the COP27 Read here
Why burning primary woody biomass is worse for the climate than fossil fuels Read here
Half of the tropical forestland cleared for agriculture isn’t put to use, research shows Read here
10 notable reads on conservation from 2022 Read here
There you have it, dear friends!
Hope you enjoyed this time travel through 2022.
It certainly was full of wonder and lessons.
Thank you for believing in us and for your unwavering trust and support. We wouldn't have been able to do what we do without you. And there's so much more to come!
Till next time!