Meet the people with the tough task of whittling down 776 applicants across Europe to just three winners.
Wow. We were blown away by the number of eco-pioneers and environmental entrepreneurs who applied for our FERTILISE THE FUTURE fund. It made us realise just how many organisations need support, but also how many awesome ideas are out there. Ideas like compostable lingerie, plastic-eating mushrooms, seagrass meadows and urban food groves.
But how to choose? We recruited external experts in sustainability and nature-based solutions (NBS) to help our internal panel of judges. NBS are actions that work with and enhance nature to lessen the impact of climate change on people. But crucially they also offer additional benefits like increased biodiversity, carbon capture and socio-economic benefits. We encouraged applications in four categories – water, forests, sustainable agriculture and sustainable development.
When we sat down to deliberate and debate, ruminate and reflect, we looked at each application through four criteria:
> Is the idea a nature-based solution?
> How quickly can it get going?
> What’s the potential impact, and can it be measured?
> Can we work well together and support them beyond the funding?
It was no easy task, but our judges finally whittled it down to 21 finalists. All of whom impressed us with their passion, dedication and scientific rigour. More than a few times we wished our funding pot was bigger so we could support more causes. The 21 finalists were then put to a people’s choice. We wanted to see what the public thought of these projects before we made our final decision.
DRUMROLL PLEASE…THE WINNERS
The Floodplain Meadows Partnership in the UK are restoring 50 hectares of floodplain meadow in the Thames Valley. This extraordinary ancient habitat can help manage flood risks, improve water quality, store carbon, sustain agriculture and increase biodiversity. Pretty impressive.
In Germany, Gut & Bösel are transforming three hectares of pine monoculture in Alt Madlitz into a multi-species agroforestry system. This exciting project aims to test and develop land models that could be replicated elsewhere. Sustainable fruit and nut crops, along with high-quality and native timber, can improve soil as well as create a valuable habitat for insects and wild animals.
Let’s hear it for Natuurpunt in Belgium. They’re restoring five urban wetlands to act as climate buffers and ‘green air conditioning’ around big cities. With the help of the University of Antwerp they’ll monitor the micro-climates and raise awareness of the important role urban wetlands can play in tackling climate change.
We salute you. And all the other 773 applicants. Together we can roll up our sleeves and keep fighting for nature.
“But when it came to the crunch, our external judges encouraged us to think about how we could make the biggest difference with our funding. Where does nature need us most?”
With that in mind, meet our panel of judges...
Tom has been working for Ecover for 15 years, where he heads up long-term innovation strategy and sustainability across the different categories of Ecover products.
Inspired by biomimicry and system thinking, he has been laying out an ambitious roadmap for the company to inspire transformative change towards a restorative business model. Tom is also on the board of Kringwinkel, a Belgian organisation that gives a second life to what otherwise would be waste.
Sarah is the Head of European Communications at Ecover, responsible for all public relations and communications strategies for the brand across Europe. Sarah has over 20 years’ experience in communications and prior to Ecover has worked in both in-house and PR agency roles.
She is responsible for the delivery and communications of the Fertilise the Future Fund.
Laura is Ecover’s lead Greenskeeper (aka head of sustainability) so it’s her job to ensure that Ecover puts sustainability at the heart of everything it does. She has a passion for systems change and believes in the power of brands and business to find creative solutions to our environmental crisis.
In her role, she’s on a mission to create sustainable products and programmes that will catalyse change in the industry. Laura is a Trustee at Forum for the Future, a leading international sustainability non-profit.
Tom is a co-founder of Nothing Works – a mobilising unit that accelerates system changing movements through radical collaboration, co-creation, experiential learning and mass participation.
With a masters in Biochemistry from Oxford, Tom started at P&G in R&D, moving into leadership roles at WPP and Oliver Wyman Group supporting clients like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Nokia, Nike and Unilever.
Since 2009, his work shifted towards social and environmental innovation, co-founding Good for Nothing – a creative generosity network and The Wild Network- a movement to reconnect kids with nature. He specialises in helping diverse groups to collaborate and innovate around systemic challenges.
Dan is a creative strategist, catalyst, activist, co-designer and guide with deep experience of harnessing creativity and collaboration for positive social, ecological and climate action. He works across multiple sectors from the grassroots, arts, activism, conservation, NGO to global brands.
He’s a co-founder of Nothing Works/Good for Nothing, Co-Pilot of Wild Labs/The Wild Network and hosts The SpaceShip Earth podcast. He regularly writes, talks and serves as a learning guide exploring brand activism, participation culture, deepening our relationship with the natural world and creative experimentation in unravelling times.
Natalie Fée is an award-winning environmentalist, author of How to Save the World for Free, speaker and founder of City to Sea, a UK-based organisation running campaigns to stop plastic pollution at source.
In 2019 Natalie won the Sunday Times Volvo Visionaries Award for her campaign work with City to Sea, and in 2018 she was listed as one of the UK’s ‘50 New Radicals’ by The Observer / Nesta. In the same year the University of the West of England awarded her the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in recognition of her services to the environment. She won the Sheila McKechnie Award for Environmental Justice in 2017 for City to Sea’s #SwitchtheStick campaign and is proud to have been named Bristol 24/7’s Woman of the Year for 2018.
Natalie also sits on the Bristol Advisory Committee for Climate Change.
Dr. Sander Jacobs – Economical ecologist. Sander is senior researcher for the Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), research team Nature & Society; and a science-policy officer for the Belgian Biodiversity Platform. His work focuses on providing evidence on multiple values of nature to policy and practice, from local cases to international contexts.
He was a lead author for the IPBES Europe & Central Asia assessment, and is coordinating lead author for the IPBES values assessment. Main academic work revolves around plural valuation of nature for sustainability decision making.
Nathalie Seddon is Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford and Director of the Nature-based Solutions Initiative, an interdisciplinary programme of research, policy advice, and education aimed at increasing understanding of the effectiveness of nature-based solutions to global challenges. After training as an evolutionary ecologist at Cambridge University, she developed broad research interests in understanding the origins and maintenance of biodiversity and its relationship with global change. She is a Senior Associate of the International Institute for Environment and Development and a Senior Fellow of the Oxford Martin School. Nathalie advises governments, UN agencies and businesses on nature-based solutions and is a Friend of CoP26, She’s among 28 global experts currently advising the UK government on CoP26.
Sandra Naumann is a Senior Fellow with Ecologic Institute. Her work focuses on the evaluation and enhancement of land use and biodiversity conservation policies and their links to climate change. She works on different research projects in the area of nature-based solutions (NBS), assessing the policy and institutional context, the linkages between nature based solutions, biodiversity and ecosystem services as well as citizen’s perceptions of urban nature. As a member of the expert groups on ‘nature-based solutions and renaturing’ cities and the ‘Valorisation of NBS research projects’ she supported the European Commission, DG for Research and Innovation in the development of a European policy and research agenda for nature based solutions.
The Floodplain Meadow Partnership are restoring floodplain meadows and setting out to prove it’s a kick-ass tool in the fight against climate change.