Sometimes it is alright to be Outrageously Unreasonable
Author: Adam Miller
“The reasonable [person] adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable.” – George Benard Shaw, 1903
Today is an important and exciting day. 34 young conservationists from 25 different nations have come together to launch Youth for Wildlife Conservation (Y4WC), an idea that has grown and been birthed into an organization, an idea that challenges the status quo, and an idea that is driven by the fact that sometimes, it is okay, it is best, to be unreasonable.
Times are tough around the globe. World poverty and hunger are higher than ever before, the illegal wildlife trade is booming at billions of dollars a year, rain forests are disappearing at unprecedented rates, and over the next 30 years some predict there will be no more fish in our oceans.
At times like this it is important to ask the difficult question, to attack the largest of issues, and to at times, make unreasonable decisions.
Y4WC represents just that. We are run by youth, for youth, and here to promote youth. This organization acts as a global network to invest and support the next generation of leaders, the future of our planet.
We have come together, to in many ways, say enough is enough. In the conservation field itself youth are too often left out. We are too often pushed to the side, not included in international conferences, not included in the conservation decision making process, and our projects are left unfunded and unevaluated.
Y4WC looks to reverse this negative trend. It has been proven, time and time again, that when minorities are left out, decision are not made that yield maximum benefit. Yet, this year, was the first year the Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) read a resolution and acknowledged that youth deserve to have a great voice in the process. Given the condition of our planet, progress can no longer happen at this snail pace.
The obvious question that we are asked is “how can youth invest in youth?” or “how can youth train the next generation of leaders when you yourselves are not yet leaders?” And this is what makes Y4WC an unusual organization. We have surrounded ourselves with advisers and have already created strategic partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Global Youth Biodiversity Network among others. But ultimately, we will stay true to our mission. Seeking advice and support when needed, but remaining true to the idea that sometimes, for the young generation, the biggest asset we have, is ourselves.
Looking back at my own story, many folks shook their head when I first launched and founded my organization Planet Indonesia. Even more so when our first hires were a teacher, a cultural anthropologists, a fiction writer, and an agronomists. How could a conservation organization move forward? Where were the GIS techs, the wildlife biologists, the foresters?
It was an unreasonable idea, but it was what made Planet Indonesia succeed. Planet Indonesia is an interdisciplinary group that provides services (start-up capital, literacy training, financial management skills, and reproductive health services) in exchange for conservation activities (protecting forests, decreasing illegal poaching, sustainable agriculture). We work with the world’s poorest communities nested in the world’s most critical ecosystems. In order to come up with such a multi-faceted model, we had to push the status quo and bring together a group of individuals that weren’t your typical conservationists. Just 2 years later we have grown to over 30 staff and are protecting over 30,000 hectares of land and working in over 2700 households. It is this experience that I will bring to my role at Y4WC.
I am honored and humbled to be chosen by the delegates of Youth 4 Wildlife Conservation to serve as the first president of our organization. I am excited to see where we can take this new project, as for youth, we have never believed in boundaries, have never believed that average is okay. We are young individuals that are challenging the status quo.
As we grow Y4WC and expand our impact, make our first investments, and become more involved in the international conservation scene I truly believe we will be a driving force that catalyzes change. If one needs proof, there is no need to look further than what the 34 delegates of Y4WC have already done.
From forest patrols protecting rhinos in South Africa, to combating wildlife trade in Vietnam, to protecting thousands of hectares of rainforest in Peru, to rescuing orangutans in Borneo, the proof for us is already in the pudding.
And with that, I will sign-off with the official launching of Youth 4 Wildlife Conservation. We have a long road ahead of us, a road that will be difficult, that at times will seem unsurpassable, that at times will seem unreasonable, and for that reason, Youth 4 Wildlife Conservation was born.