By Monica Evans
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its march, and countries cycle in and out of lockdowns across the globe, communication channels like social media are more important than ever to connect, inspire and educate each other about how we might do things differently in the face of critical health and environmental crises. However, these channels can also be mines of misinformation and distraction. How can we best use them to spread consistent and uplifting content about the possibilities for positive change at household, community, landscape and regional levels?
That’s where the 2021 GLF Social Media Ambassadors come in – a cohort of young volunteers from across the globe, selected annually, who use their own channels on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn, as well as personal blogs if they have them, to spark meaningful conversations on the landscape approach to addressing environmental, social and health challenges. They create and share content in their own languages, and in their own ways.
This year’s 34 Ambassadors, who hail from 24 different countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, have just been selected from amongst over 400 applications: you can locate most of them on this map. They hail from a range of different backgrounds – amongst them are restoration practitioners, students, researchers, environmental activists and enthusiasts, youth organization leaders, and Indigenous groups.
The ambassadorship kicked off with a Digital Bootcamp, where the Ambassadors learned how to increase their engagement on social media, create captivating visuals, and identify interesting content to share on their platforms.
Ambassador Carmen Monges (27), a forestry engineer and environmental education coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund in Paraguay, shared in her application the sense of urgency she brings to the post. “I want my generation to be aware of the fact that if we don’t act now and we don’t commit to concrete actions, we will risk the livelihoods of future generations,” she said. Educator and marine conservation advocate Skye Markris Brown (23), from the United States, added an optimistic slant: “Climate change is the greatest threat the world faces today, but it is also an incredible chance to unite to fight for a more sustainable future,” she said.
Tan feliz de poder apoyar todo este año siendo GLF Social Media Ambassador y compartir la riqueza y múltiples beneficios que tienen los ecosistemas peruanos! 🇵🇪❤️🌱💪🏼. Estoy emocionada, y ya quiero comenzar! 🙂
— María Angélica (Manquis) Villasante Villafuerte (@manquisv) February 9, 2021
I was today selected as the @GlobalLF social media Ambassador 2021. I’m delighted with the privilege to join an international community of young people to support the global movement towards sustainable landscape. #gratefulheart @CIFOR @ICRAF @RegreenAfrica @CWatsonICRAF pic.twitter.com/FrxxeapsWm
— Sunday Geofrey (@SundayGeofrey5) February 1, 2021
Nohora Quiguantar (27), a member of the indigenous community of Los Pastos in Nariño, Colombia, highlighted the importance of the program for lifting Indigenous representation in global conservation conversations: “For me, this is a great opportunity to ensure that the voices from my community which are not usually listened to can finally be heard,” she said.
Other Ambassadors are focused on raising the profile of particular environmental issues: while over in Ghana, agronomist Joshua Fudzagbo (30), hopes to “create awareness through knowledge sharing on land degradation, food security issues and declining rural livelihoods in Africa.”
Peruvian nature photographer Marlon del Aguila Guerrero (32) spoke passionately about the opportunities his particular profession provides to inspire and educate via social channels: “I try to make change through my work, and I understand that the only way that conservation projects can function well is when they ensure that people see nature as an integrated, interdependent whole: a landscape, an ecosystem, that supports life in all of its different forms.”
The Ambassadors’ in-country networks and local expertise will help facilitate two-way knowledge transfer and spread awareness about the GLF’s work. In the Philippines, Nella Lomotan (31) draws on an extensive network through the organizations she co-founded, nonprofit Philippine Parks & Biodiversity and sustainable tourism outfit Eco Explorations. Meanwhile, in Cameroon, restoration champion Sunday Geofrey Mbafoambe (35) is well-connected with both rural communities and African youth leadership networks.
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The other Ambassadors are: Victoria Wangui (Kenya); Amina Benhachani (Algeria); Kabila Jonathan Obbo (Uganda); Wilfred Kiptoo Chemoiwo (Kenya); Phoebe Wangui Mwangi (Kenya); Majid Tokurah (Nigeria); Musa Ibrahim (Nigeria); Oluwatosin Ogunsola (Nigeria); Dorcas Omole (Nigeria); Alioune Badara Gueye (Senegal); Peter Mhagama (Tanzania); Cat Cortes (Singapore); Yarika Melo (Indonesia); Rahmat Asy’Ari (Indonesia); Waqar Ahmed (Pakistan); Anukram Adhikary (Nepal); Sankar Thampuran MV (India); Dominic D. Smith (Netherlands); Carol J. Gantes G. (Panama); Ana María Sagastume Amaya (El Salvador); María Angélica Villasante Villafuerte (Peru); Martin González Flores (Mexico); Alejandro Reyes (Colombia); Vanessa Nichols (Canada); Agnia Ustymenko; and Idoxine Ahoumenou.
Want to join the landscape revolution from the comfort of your phone or computer? Follow this year’s ambassadors on their social channels, and/or do your own informal ambassadorship by sharing our content and using the hashtag #thinklandscape.