Celebrate Good Work Around the World on Earth Day | Net Impact

Celebrate Good Work Around the World on Earth Day

Juana Payaba Cachique, a community leader in the Peruvian Amazon, helped win a landmark case.
Juana Payaba Cachique, a community leader in the Peruvian Amazon, helped win a landmark case.

Meet three remarkable people putting sustainability into practice around the world.

Earth Day turns 45 this year. What started as a national teach-in in the United States has became an internationally recognized moment to reflect on the state of the planet and to highlight environmental issues, from tackling oil spills and industrial pollution to protecting wild spaces. This Earth Day will no doubt see rallies, events, and new reports. Most likely each of these will share a common theme of doom and gloom – bad news sells, after all. But bad news doesn’t motivate action. Studies show that people feel disempowered and discouraged when faced with a constant barrage of environmental bad news around them. Especially when the issues seem intractable and long-term, like climate change.

What if we reclaimed Earth Day as a day of reflection and recognition for the good work that is happening across the planet to save species, to protect waterways, to ensure a decent living for those who rely on the land, to produce more and better food while keeping forests standing, and to care for communities as well as the environment? Perhaps then we’d get to know more about the work of people like these three change-makers.

1. Meet Juana Payaba Cachique

Juana Payaba Cachique is a leader within the community of Tres Islas in the Peruvian Amazon who, along with her sister and other community leaders, successfully defended the land rights of the Ese-Eja and Shipibo indigenous people in a landmark case that has become a beacon to other indigenous groups throughout Peru. As one of six indigenous groups in La Asociación Forestal Indigena de Madre de Dios (Afimad), a local forest and farm management organization, Tres Islas has been working with the Rainforest Alliance since 2009 to conserve 76,000 acres (31,000 hectares) of land surrounding Madre de Dios through sustainable forest business development. Training has helped the community manage their forests more sustainably, add value to their products, access new markets, and increase their incomes – all important economic incentives that encourage local communities to protect their rainforests.

2. Meet Adrien Koffi

There are around five million smallholder cocoa farmers in the world. Many are already struggling with economic hardship, the effects of climate change, hotter temperatures, unpredictable rainfall, and a shift in growing seasons: farmers like Adrien Koffi Kouadio in Paul Kru, Côte D’Ivoire. Adrien comes from a family of cocoa farmers. His enthusiasm for cocoa is only matched by his enthusiasm for football. Through training in efficient and sustainable farm management, Adrien and others in his village are learning how to increase the productivity and resiliency of the land, and to market certified products more effectively. Studies show that this kind of training leads to increased yields and incomes for cocoa farmers. That's good for farmers like Adrien and for the environment on which he depends.

3. Meet Leticia Monzon

Leticia Monzon, a coffee farmer in northern Guatemala, speaks about everything having changed as a result of Rainforest Alliance Certification. She is a member of a farming group made up of more than 50 farmers who have applied the Sustainable Agriculture Network standards to their coffee farms. The difference is stark, according to Leticia: “Today, everything has changed. We are improving on all levels.” The benefits of protecting the environment are personal, too. The group has tackled pollution from waste that was contaminating rivers and streams, with Leticia citing these improvements to the well-being of her children.

This Earth Day, let’s reflect on the work being done by Juana, Adrien, Leticia, and the millions more like them. They won’t be in the streets protesting climate change. They’ll be in the fields and forests tackling it in practical ways – putting sustainability into practice, showing others what sustainable farming and forestry practices can achieve.

About Anita

For more than 20 years, Anita Neville has been communicating complex environmental issues in compelling ways to consumers, businesses, politicians, and decision makers. She is the Rainforest Alliance representative and communications advisor in Australia and Oceania, where she works with forestry companies, food and beverage brands, and independent coffee roasters, to name a few, demonstrating the business value of sustainable practices.

Want more?

You can keep up with the Rainforest Alliance on The Frog Blog, or read more about their work with sustainable coffee farming on our blog.