If environmentalism was about protection, sustainability is about survival, and regeneration is about thriving. This is a process of societal transformation and fundamentally, it is our value systems and mindsets that we need to recalibrate to carve a new trajectory away from exploitation and extraction as the core approaches to business and economic growth.
Nothing embodies this concept better than what our HER Planet Earth team experienced as guests of Frédéric and Chris Tardieu, founders of the Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring the natural resources of Palawan for the benefit of the local population. Indeed, this May, we spent the most magical and eye-opening week with them on their Pangatalan island in the Philippines.
Over the past 12 years, the foundation has completely restored the 4.5-hectare island and made it self-sustainable by planting more than 80,000 trees and turning it into an MPA, or Marine Protected Area. The project has also included a robust mangrove restoration programme, and the creation of SRPs, or Sulu Reef Prosthesis (an artificial, concrete reef systems, which is recognized by UNESCO) to restore corals. SRPs were designed and patented by the Sulubaaï Foundation in 2016 and are used as platforms on which coral fragments are transplanted. From 2017 till today, Sulubaaï has installed over 300 SRP on different coral rubble patches within its marine protected area, and transplanted more than 2,500 coral fragments, belonging to more that 15 genera and 30 hard coral species. The foundation has also set up an organic farm, implemented a waste segregation system and built solar panels - all of which have contributed to making the island carbon negative.
During our visit, our HER Planet Earth team installed three artificial reefs and 30 "fragments of hope" (i.e. corals fragments). The reef is now part of the Sulubaai's Foundation’s Marine Protected Area of 50 hectares. This is a meaningful contribution, as it builds on the work of the foundation to protect the area, which is part of the Coral Triangle (hosting 30% of the world's coral reefs) and is a hot spot of marine biodiversity.
The HER Planet Earth team also met with women from the local communities around Shark Fin Bay of the Sandoval Barangay - consisting of leaders, fisherfolk, teachers, farmers, home makers, students, and mothers - so as to help raise awareness about the importance of protecting our environment. The objective of this open forum was to have constructive discussions and exchanges on how best to protect nature in this region. We also shared our hopes and dreams for our lives, our children’s lives, and our planet’s future.
As a result of our trip, we also learnt that:
Sulubaai highlights the importance of learning to sustain ourselves equitably within the resources and means of the planet upon which we rely on for survival instead of extracting and using resources at a faster rate than Earth can replenish them. The end goal is not “to sustain what we already have”; it should be to evolve our species to move beyond the status quo of destruction and exploitation, to find new ways of meeting everyone’s needs within the means of the planet. It's about respecting, cherishing and living within the natural ecosystem. Once we have established the ability to do that, when we have changed our value system, business practices, cultural conventions, and collective mindsets, then we can give back more than we take — and finally live sustainably on our beautiful planet.
To support and find out more about the Sulubaai Foundation, please visit their website here.
All-Female DivE Team to work on Coral Reef Restoration with the Sulubaaï FOUNDATION of the Philippines
For Immediate Release
In May 2022, an all-female diving team from Singapore, Australia and Europe will spend a week on Pangatalan island in Palawan, Philippines to work on restoring its coral reef in partnership with the Sulubaaï Foundation. Created in 2012, the Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation is a Philippine-based non-profit organisation dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring the natural resources of Palawan through environmentally sustainable practices and active ecosystems restoration. The foundation's work is mainly focused on the island of Pangatalan and its surroundings in the Shark Bay region.
The group under the banner of HER Planet Earth, a Singapore-based NGO that promotes female empowerment and environmental conservation will participate in multiple coral grafting dives, which will involve fixing unstable coral fragments on concrete support structures called SRPs (or Sulu-Reef Prostheses) directly or indirectly on strong reef structures using nails and wire.
"The Sulubaaï Foundation is excited to host the team of divers from HER Planet Earth this year. The collaboration provides a unique opportunity for an adventurous group of women from around the world to connect directly with the rich but threatened marine life of Palawan while supporting a model of community-led conservation that delivers tangible and sustainable results", said Frederic Tardieu, Founder of the Sulubaaï Foundation. He added, “We wholeheartedly believe in the power of women to create change, impact a community, a nation and the world - for the better. And we look forward to working closely with our partners, HER Planet Earth on this important conservation initiative.”
In 2016, a 41-hectare Marine Protected Area surrounding the island was established and placed under the responsibility of the foundation - and defined as a “No Take Zone” to improve the resilience of ecosystems such as coral reefs, other marine life and fish stock surrounding the island. Then in 2019, neighbouring villages realised the positive impact on fish biomass and wanted to go a step further, and this is how the idea of the SEA Academy was born.
The SEA Academy focuses on ecosystem preservation, education & training, economic development and scientific research. The core of the project is the creation of three participative marine protected areas managed by the local communities. It will directly benefit the population of the villages of Shark Fin Bay (Palawan, Philippines) and students from Philippine Universities. Over the next three years, the SEA Academy will help decrease illegal fishing practices, and improve the state of the coral reefs while increasing fish population. Its educational program about the marine ecosystems will focus on sustainable management of marine resources. while increasing fish population. Its educational program about the marine ecosystems will focus on sustainable management of marine resources.
HER Planet Earth Founder, Christine Amour-Levar, who is also an Ambassador for the SEA Academy Project shared, "the main objective of the project is to restore the marine biodiversity. The main stake is food security since local populations critically depend on marine resources for their protein income. If we want to build a healthier ecosystem, it is necessary to create conditions for involvement of local actors, to educate younger generations and to enable adults to understand that protection of the sea and its good management is also source of wealth and economy. This is the kind of future we need to move towards."
Island revegetation and water run off
Because of the deforestation of the island before 2011, the island’s soil had been severely damaged and eroded during past rainy seasons. The phenomena was compromising the integrity of the remaining vegetation and impacting the coral reef due to siltation (a process by which water becomes dirty as a result of fine mineral particles infiltrating it). Since 2013, more than 39,000 native flowers, plants and trees have been replanted. Infrastructures have also been built (retention tanks and water-flow moderators) in order to help restore the soil and considerably reduce water run-off from the land. Thanks to the foundation's work, since 2016, the vegetation of the island has returned to a sustainable and healthy level.
The marine protected area includes 2.5 hectares of mangroves ecosystems. Unfortunately, 20% had been destroyed prior to 2011 due to the cutting down of mangrove trees to make charcoal. Mangroves constitute a key ecosystem and are extremely functional. Thus, in order to facilitate their regrowth, the foundation planted 5,000 propagules in a nursery and transplanted around 1,000 plants in May 2016. Today the Sulubaaï team is continuously gardening and taking care of the plants that are thankfully thriving.
A Marine Protected Area
The 41-hectare Marine Protected Area surrounding the island includes a fringing reef (a coral reef that lies close to the shore) and one isolated reef (pinnacle). In total, 12 ecosystems are present in the area and constitute a highly diversified environment. The Marine Protected Area is defined as a “No Take Zone” and aims to improve the resilience of ecosystems such as coral reefs, other marine life and fish stock surrounding the island.
In the past, the area suffered from a massive bleaching event (2010) and was commonly exploited for fishing using dynamite and cyanide. Today, the foundation constantly measures the efficiency of their restoration methods in the Marine Protected Area, by monitoring and surveying the environment and ecosystems using a photo transect method. Photo transects involve taking evenly measured photos of the reef bottom. This not only gives the foundation a permanent record of the reef condition, but it also allows them to do a more detailed analysis after each dive.
Find out more:
About HER Planet Earth:
HER Planet Earth is a global advocacy movement that promotes a deeper connection between women empowerment and the integrity of the environment. The non-profit organisation, which is headquartered in Singapore, aims to inspire more people to become policymakers and agents of change in order to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet. HER Planet Earth organises pioneering and self-funded expeditions around the world to increase awareness of environmental degradation and raise funds for programmes that empower and educate underprivileged women affected by climate change - ultimately helping them build climate resilience.
About The Sulubaaï Foundation:
In 1992, French business developer Fred Tardieu and his wife packed up their belongings and departed from their home, careers and ease of familiarity to pursue what they thought would be a well-earned retirement. Little did they know at the time, their unassuming plunge into adventure would lead them to become trailblazing marine conservationists in the Philippines. Driven by their love for the ocean and eagerness for bettering the world, in 2011 they purchased Pangatalan Island in Palawan and founded the Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation, where they work alongside conservation partners and local community members to restore the island’s unique ecosystems which had been damaged from unsustainable practices in the past. Alongside their partners, in 2017, they established a 45-hectare marine protected area (MPA) surrounding the island – with another MPA double its size currently in the works. Since 2015, the Sulubaaï Foundation team counts full dedicated marine biologists experts who manage the restoration of marine ecosystems in the marine protected area of Pangatalan. The staff counts also 20 members from nearby villages who contribute to the warm hospitality on the island. https://sulubaai-foundation.com
To see pictures of the HER Planet Earth team’s journey, ‘LIKE’ their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram:
Singapore, 16 September 2019 – The Africa Society of Singapore and HER Planet Earth have joined forces to raise awareness and funds for projects supporting wildlife conservation and female empowerment in North Kenya.
Via a sparkling 200-person private ball at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Singapore on 14 September 2019 - which featured the work of celebrated Photographer David Yarrow - and an all-female expedition to North Kenya, due to kick off this October, the partnership has raised over S$130,000 to date, for Conservation International, a charity that works to protect nature for the benefit of humanity.
On 1 October 2019, the self-funded HER Planet Earth team of 16 women from around the world will embark on a pioneering expedition to trek 100km across Northern Kenya's Karisia Hills. The trail has never been attempted before, and will take the team and its safari camel train on a new passage across the mountains.
Guided by expert tracker Kerry Glen and accompanied by Samburu or Laikipia Maasai guides, the women will be hikking along tough but varied terrain, including sandy river beds, ancient elephant tracks, old growth forest, plains and hilly peaks. The expedition will range at altitudes from 3,500ft to 6,000ft (or 1,000 to 2,000 metres) and in daily temperatures that could fluctuate between 10 to 30 degrees Centigrade. The women will be up early, before sunrise, walking 5-6 hours every day to reach the next camp and can expect to see big game on the walking safari.
The totality of the funds raised by this campaign will go to support a range of projects run by Conservation International in North Kenya, focused on gender equality. These may include the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary - the first community owned and mainly female operated elephant sanctuary in Kenya - the expansion of eco-tourism facilities and the establishment and support of a mobile anti-poaching team for the region.
Michael O’Brien-Onyeka, Senior Vice President of Conservation International’s Africa Field Division said, “Conservation International is excited by this remarkable expedition put together by our partner ‘HER Planet Earth’ . It provides a unique opportunity for an adventurous group of women from across the world to connect directly with the rich but threatened mosaic of wildlife, landscape and people in remote Northern Kenya, while supporting a model of community-led conservation that delivers tangible and sustainable benefits including peace and security, enhanced incomes and women empowerment and resilience.” He added: “ We are truly honoured that the communities and women that we work with across Northern Kenya will benefit significantly from the awareness and funds that this exceptional expedition will provide.”
Now in its third year of operation, Singapore-based NGO HER Planet Earth, aims to empower women as a way to mitigate climate change. By working with their charity partners to promote gender equality and build more eco-friendly livelihoods around the world, the organisation hopes to help women become more climate change resilient, while making environmental conservation a priority. Over the last few years, HER Planet Earth's expeditions have taken all-female teams sailing to remote islands in the Philippines, climbing in Antarctica, exploring the largest caves in the world in Vietnam, and trekking across glaciers and volcanos in Iceland - all in an effort to raise awareness and funds for these key initiatives.
“It is vital that we empower more women to play a central role in decision-making at all levels of society. Only then will environmental sustainability become a true reality,” said HER Planet Earth Founder & CEO, Christine Amour-Levar, who wants to see ‘gender’ at the heart of climate action.
Find out more:
About the Africa Society: The Africa Society was founded in 1963 and has for mission to bring members together to celebrate African culture and friendships and African causes.
About HER Planet Earth: HER Planet Earth is a global advocacy movement that promotes a deeper connection between women empowerment and the integrity of the environment. The non-profit organisation, which is headquartered in Singapore, aims to inspire more people to become policymakers and agents of change in order to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet. HER Planet Earth organises pioneering and self-funded expeditions around the world to increase awareness of environmental degradation and raise funds for programmes that empower and educate underprivileged women affected by climate change - ultimately helping them build climate change resilience.
About Conservation International: For over 30 years Conservation International has worked to protect Nature with cutting-edge science, innovative policy and global reach. Conservation International seeks to break the cycle of the destruction of Africa’s natural capital by contributing to a new development paradigm where growth embraces, not erodes, nature, and where nature is valued, protected and managed for the benefit of human wellbeing. Visit www.conservation.org for more information or contact the Asia Pacific office to find out how you can help Conservation International’s work in the region.
Team Profiles: The team of this HER Planet Earth Kenya 2019 Expedition is formed by 16 intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about protecting the environment and empowering underprivileged women. To read the team bios please click here.
Community Conservation and Gender Imbalance: This model of community conservation has changed local attitudes toward wildlife and the team’s journey will take them deep into the very landscapes and communities where CI’s work is done. All funds raised will be used to benefit these local people; to give them a voice and provide a platform for their development of sustainable enterprises and family livelihoods. The ripple effect will extend to education, health, family income and even security, peace and stability. Gender imbalance is a major factor obstructing sustainable development in Africa and poverty is a key factor undermining a girl’s right to education; a cycle that reinforces a large gender gap. Many factors combine to truncate a girl’s education and a young women’s career, limiting the full realisation of her productive capacities. On the other hand, educating a girl means that as a woman, she is then empowered and more likely to participate in development efforts and in political and economic decision-making.
Over 50% of the practitioners in the existing production sectors where CI’s Africa programme works are women. They are often marginalised and lack the skills and education to be true agents of change or to be able to influence policy in their favour. Research by the World Bank, UNICEF shows that better educated women have fewer children (the difference between 0 years of schooling and 12 years is almost 4 to 5 children per woman). Further research shows that every additional year of schooling for a girl increases her future earnings by 10 to 20% and that each additional year of schooling for children increases the average annual National GDP by 0.37%. The advantages of girl’s empowerment, therefore, do not stop at the boundaries of a single child, but extend through families, communities, and entire nations.
Wildlife Trafficking: The dramatic rise of wildlife trafficking, which has become an annual US$10bn illicit enterprise, now represents one of the world’s four most profitable criminal activities. Wildlife trade follows similar routes and is linked to the same terrorist organizations and organised criminal syndicates that are behind the illegal trade trafficked human beings (as well as drugs and weapons).
Community conservation seeks to tackle insecurity holistically by focusing on strengthening community ties and encouraging non-violent conflict resolution. Conservancy rangers gain employment and bring increased security which allows others to benefit from the development of other skills, alternative livelihoods and a connection to new markets.
To donate to the mission please visit the team’s fundraising page here.
To see pictures of the team’s journey, ‘LIKE’ their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram:
Friday 8 March 2019 (International Women’s Day)
Today, on International Women’s Day, Christine Amour-Levar, Founder of Her Planet Earth and Lucy Bennett-Baggs, Founder of Just Challenge, announced that together they would lead an expedition to Iceland, bringing inspirational women together from around the world to drive change and empower women globally.
Just Challenge & Her Planet Earth invite women from any background, industry and country to join ‘Challenge Iceland 2019’, trekking over 75km through spectacular Icelandic terrain to raise crucial funds for UN Women’s programmes that empower and support underprivileged women affected by climate change.
Lucy Bennett-Baggs, Founder of Just Challenge, says “We are really excited to have partnered with Her Planet Earth on Challenge Iceland 2019. This is the first ‘women only’ challenge we have launched and we are incredibly proud to be leading an experience that truly promotes gender equality in today’s increasingly pressurised world. This is a once in a life time opportunity that not only develops the women that take part, but also raises funds for those much less fortunate than ourselves”.
Christine Amour-Levar, Founder of Her Planet Earth, states “While climate change is a global phenomenon, its impact is not spread across a level playing field. Its effects are felt locally, and poor people suffer the most. Among the world’s 1.3 billion people living in poverty, the majority are women. I am thrilled to partner with Just Challenge on this incredible adventure to one of the most scenic places on earth. Together we will rally a group of dedicated women to raise valuable funds for underprivileged women, ultimately helping them transform their livelihoods so that they can become more resilient to climate change.”
The team of this HER Planet Earth Iceland 2019 Expedition is formed by 12 intrepid women of diverse nationalities and backgrounds. While they are all incredibly well accomplished in their careers, they are equally passionate about protecting the environment and empowering underprivileged women. To read the team bios please click here.
Join their mission and advance the cause of gender equality. Apply for one of the limited places today: www.just-challenge.com/iceland2019
For interview requests with Lucy Bennett-Baggs or Christine Amour-Levar – please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Just Challenge - Just Challenge delivers life changing adventures, for all abilities, with impact and meaning. They provide companies with the opportunities to engage employees, clients and/or leaders through physical challenges. They believe those that contribute to society and nurture their people will be the ones to prosper. Just Challenge designs and delivers bespoke experiences focusing on four pillars; employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, client relationships and leadership development.
Her Planet Earth - HER Planet Earth is a global women’s advocacy movement that promotes a deeper connection between women empowerment and the integrity of the environment. The non-profit organisation, which is headquartered in Singapore, aims to inspire more women to become policymakers and agents of change to achieve social and economic equity and a healthy and thriving planet.
To donate to the mission please visit the team’s fundraising page here.