Last week, Rainforest Partnership’s CEO, Niyanta Spelman, was invited to discuss the organization’s approach to rainforest protection with Chloé Messdaghi of the Hacker Book Club.

This interview was in celebration of World Environment Day, a UN-recognized day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.

While nationally and internationally recognized days of celebration and education rightly draw attention to climate issues, Rainforest Partnership sees every day as World Environment Day. The devastating impacts of climate change and deforestation are observed in the work we do daily. 

As Niyanta points out in the interview, in order for climate action to have a long lasting impact, it must begin from the ground-up. There is no one more intimately involved in forest protection than the local and indigenous communities who live there, and we can’t achieve sustainable change without the involvement of these communities  first being empowered to income streams that are not tied to deforestation.

As Niyanta shared, in Rainforest Partnership’s experience, when given the opportunity, these communities always choose the forests. We are dedicated to supporting our partners with the training, tools and resources needed to make that option economically feasible.

“How do we work with [rainforest communities] to allow for different economic choices? Because it’s an economic problem and an economic problem requires an economic solution, but it involves all of us who don’t live in the rainforest... If a small percentage of us… who really care, who want to know, start asking the questions ‘Where is that coffee coming from? Where are you getting it?’ you know that the corporations are going to make a different decision.”

As she suggests, the world needs the global community to work towards a future we believe in. The world needs our voices. When enough people speak up and ask questions, change begins.

Be inquisitive about where the products you buy come from, how they might contribute to deforestation, and don’t be afraid to say something. When enough of us demand transparency, our voices can hold companies accountable.

Our Rainforest Partnership team would like to share some easy steps to take today that will help the forests:

  1. Learn about where your products come from and making sure it isn’t from recently cleared forests 
  2. Opt for palm oil free products
  3. Reduce your meat intake
  4. Reduce food waste and plastic use
  5. Learn the recycling and composting plan in your neighborhood
  6. Donate to or volunteer your time with groups working to protecting the rainforest and fight climate change

See Niyanta’s full interview here.

Read also: Conservation matters! See How Rainforest Partnership Is Supporting Biodiversity in the Tropical Andes Hotspot