Fearless Re.Generation leaders look to the Earth, empathy and community for climate solutions

I have come to the conclusion that Planetary Health is like the unpredictable relative no one wants to invite to a family gathering. You know what I’m talking about, that family member whose presence makes others feel uncomfortable because inevitably there will be drama. Instead, everyone pretends everything is normal, hoping the problem will magically go away. But it only gets worse. Year after year.

And I get it. Planetary Health is a monumentally complex and distressing topic and, on top of that, we are in a race against time. The reality is that the planet is facing a double environmental crisis – the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. We are on track to reach 1.5°C global warming as early as 2034. In parallel, we have seen a 69% decline in the world’s wildlife populations in the past 40 years.

Beyond the headlines, it is not all doom and gloom. There is hope to ensure a sustainable future for people and nature, but it will require a rapid and transformative shift across sectors to drastically reduce emissions and fundamentally change the way we produce, the way we consume, and the way we finance.

This is where Re.Generation comes in (See Videos Below). This latest initiative from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s (PA2F) brought together six brilliant women and four outstanding men from around the world for its first Re.Generation Future Leadership Program, which rounded off two weeks of training on July 13.

Not to be confused with youth leadership for entry level skills, this group of Millennials is recognised already in helping to fight climate change and biodiversity loss in four areas – Startsups and Business, Storytelling, Communities and Finance. They are representatives of a generation who are convinced that another way of using Earth’s resources is possible, convinced that we must protect and regenerate nature.

These Re.Generation cohorts are carrying the weight of your future on their shoulders. They are not afraid to look Planetary Health in the eyes or call out others who fail to do so, offering solutions with a powerful sense of urgency. I know because I had the good fortune of spending the last two weeks watching them in action and listening to their concerns.

I encourage you to watch the videos below to put a face to their names and stories. These individuals are a reflection of how the Prince Albert Foundation is stepping up its drive to accelerate change by engaging Millennials and creatives in innovative ways to help spread the message. And I assure you, this Re.Generation group may have arrived in Monaco as leaders. But they leave as experts.

Startups (WATCH VIDEO)
The world has set very ambitious targets for 2030 to protect 30% of land and sea, and to restore what has been degraded. But 2030 is tomorrow, some 78 months away. What is the role of startups and the business sector in this vision?

Anne-Sophie Roux is a French ocean entrepreneur whose startup Tenaka is focusing on reversing marine degradation by restoring marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves, and, importantly, doing this at scale.

Colombian Federico Perez is the Founder and CEO of Selvitas, a company focusing on nature-based solutions and social equity in Latin America, particularly to tackle deforestation.

Sabrine Chennaoui is the co-founder and CEO of the Tunisian green start up, MONSAPO, which looks to revolutionise chemical products we use every day, and she is an advocate for empowerment of women in the workplace.

Finance (WATCH VIDEO)
The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation launched this year its Re:Ocean Fund, a private equity fund dedicated to SDG 14 that will support startups focusing on marine pollution, blue food, ecosystem protection and restoration, and equipping ocean stakeholders with robust and transparent data. What role can these kinds of funds play to help scale up innovative solutions?

Ghassan Atallah is Lebanese with a background in mechanical engineering, who moved into the finance and investing space and is doing his MBA at Harvard Business School.

Storytellers (WATCH VIDEO)
How to get the message out, both to policy makers and to the general public, to help instigate the transformative sectoral and societal change that we need to tackle the environmental crisis we are living?

Gunjan Menon is a prize-winning wildlife filmmaker from India, and a Natural Geographic Storytelling Explorer, particularly focused on human-wildlife coexistence.

Valy Phommachak is the founder of Econox Laos, a social enterprise for environmental protection strongly involving local communities. She also founded Econews Laos, the first and only environmental news platform in the country, and is an advocate for youth empowerment.

Imogen Napper – aka the “Plastics Detective” – is a British marine scientist and National Geographic Explorer who is researching plastic pollution and its sources. Her work influences policy change and was used as a basis for new legislation banning certain products.  

Communities (WATCH VIDEO)
To put solutions into place, transparency, inclusivity, and co-construction are crucial, making sure that no one is left behind. Local communities and indigenous peoples are often at the forefront of impacts of climate change and nature degradation.

Victoria Herrmann is a storyteller and geographer from the US works very close with communities on adaptation pathways to climate change, ensuring the empowerment of local communities in safeguarding their cultural heritage.

Pedro Fernandez is an agricultural engineer, who has been working with land managers and farmers in his native Argentina to help them transition to a more sustainable way of ranching.

Jahawi Bertolli is an award-winning Kenyan filmmaker, TV presenter and National Geographic Explorer who focuses on underwater and involves local communities in Africa to delivering the storytelling message.  

A 2021 Pew Research Center report showed that 69% of American adults surveyed say large businesses and corporations are “doing too little to address climate change” while two-thirds say “ordinary Americans are doing too little to help reduce the effects of climate change.”

The research also stated that 71% of Millennials (born 1981–1996) believed that climate should be top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations compared to 67% for Gen Z (1997–2012), 63% for Gen X (1965–1980) and 57% for Baby Boomers (1946–1964).

Article first published July 16, 2023. Feature image: Re.Generation Program/Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.