The Regenerative Travel Impact Awards 2021 — Regenerative Activist of the Year

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The Regenerative Travel Impact Awards celebrate people and projects that embody the spirit of regeneration—improving people’s lives, our communities, and the world around us. We are searching the globe for inspiring changemakers working to solve our biggest challenges and inspiring positive action, both inside and outside of travel.

View the finalists for the Regenerative Activist of the Year category featuring a passionate campaigner recognized for their contributions to bring about social and environmental change.

Photo credit: milkywire

1. Shaha Hashim, Field Project Manager at Blue Marine Foundation’s (BLUE’s) Maldives project, based at Six Senses Laamu, Lamu Atoll

Shaha is the field project Manager for Blue Marine Foundation’s (BLUE’s) Maldives project, based in Laamu Atoll, where she works to protect marine ecosystems, increasing biodiversity, and providing the Maldives with greater resilience to the effects of climate change. Shaha is a voice for many who do not have the capacity or platform to speak, working towards fair and well-managed resources based upon scientific evidence.

Shaha piloted a seagrass conservation project at Six Senses Laamu, playing an instrumental role in developing the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign, which successfully raised awareness within the Maldivian community and the tourism industry on these ecosystems’ importance. The campaign generated commitment from 25% of the Maldivian resorts, protecting more than 900,000 square meters of seagrass.

In 2020, Shaha launched #FishForTomorrow in response to the illegal and excessive fishing of vulnerable species, which began during Covid-19. Just two months after the campaign ended, the Maldivian Government introduced a new law preventing the catch, sale, and export of all species of parrotfish.

Shaha played a significant role in scientifically verifying a grouper spawning site in Laamu, her team determining maturity sizes for two grouper species in the Maldives that are now adopted under the revised Maldives Grouper Management Plan of 2020.

Besides driving change on a national level, Shaha also plays a significant role within Laamu’s local community. Laamaseelu Farudhun is a citizen science program developed by Shaha for young Maldivians in Laamu. Through this, BLUE have trained 21 volunteers (so far) in 7 out of 11 islands in Laamu atoll, to conduct citizen science surveys of seagrasses. She also played an integral role in developing and launching the Laamaseelu Masveriya program, a sustainable reef fishing code of conduct which safeguards the livelihoods of local fishers and protects reef fish populations.

Shaha is now working on establishing marine managed areas in the atoll. Shaha has run educational sessions for local councils, institutions, fishermen and students on climate change, marine reserves and fisheries management. Thanks to her work, Laamu Atoll Council has committed to protecting five ecologically significant areas in the Atoll.

Photo credit: Shoutout LA

2. Vincie Ho, Founder of RISE Travel Institute

Founded in June of 2020, RISE Travel Institute is a female- and immigrant-founded non-profit organization anchored on its mission to inspire responsible, impactful, sustainable and ethical travel through education. 

RISE Travel Institute, led by Vincie Ho, a humane educator and social justice advocate, envisions a world where travel is a force for positive transformation for both travelers and travel destinations. Through a systems-thinking approach and an anti-oppression lens, all its educational programs aim to equip travelers with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to understand the underlying oppressive systems that give rise to these interconnected issues, and experience travel in a way that respects and creates enduring positive impact on the community, economy, animals, and environment of the places they visit.

RISE Travel Institute’s Pilot Program is a 10-week online certificate program designed and taught by the RISE Travel Institute team in collaboration with academics and professionals in tourism, social justice, animal protection, and environmental sustainability. The content explores different aspects of sustainable travel through structured, rigorous, research-based education and provides college students, tourism professionals and travelers from around the world with the knowledge and tools they need to do the most good and the least harm to the local communities, animals, and environments of their future travel destination. Students who successfully complete the program and a capstone project will receive our Certificate in Sustainability and Anti-Oppression in Travel and may apply to join one of the institute’s domestic or international Experiential Journeys to put theory into practice.

RISE Travel Institute’s destination-focused courses will take a deep dive into the history and culture of destinations, and past and present social and environmental issues that travelers need to be aware of prior to traveling to those places.

By way of its programming, RISE Travel Institute is actively making the world a better place through its educational programs targeting both environmental and societal problems. It provides participants with opportunities and tools to explore and tackle difficult topics of conversation, including the intersection of social justice, community development, animal protection, and environmental sustainability with regards to travel.

Photo credit: @MikaelaLoch

3. Mikaela Loach, Environmental Activist, trainee Doctor and founder/ presenter of The Yikes Podcast

Mikaela Loach is an intersectional climate justice activist, co-founder and co-host of The Yikes podcast, medical student, and all-around inspiration. Influencing in the best way possible, Mikaela uses her platform to promote climate justice, sustainable living, and equips followers with the knowledge they need to turn talk into action. Postponing her final year of university, where she is studying to be a doctor, Mikaela is running the Paid to Pollute campaign in which they are taking the UK government to court in order to stop the billions in funding paid to the oil and gas industry (largely from taxpayer money). This campaign has received major exposure, likely helped by Mikaela’s youth voice, and has seen her be named the UK’s answer to Greta Thunberg.

In her own words, Mikaela describes her career journey: “I moved to Edinburgh, UK to start studying medicine and soon became aware that issues I cared about—anti-racism, feminism, climate change, wealth inequality and refugee rights—all intersected when it came to climate justice. It was at this moment that I realised that I needed to step up my activism and do more than just lifestyle change. I got involved with the Scottish climate movement, working with Extinction Rebellion, and took part in direct action camping on the streets of London during the October Rebellion. Since being part of community grassroots activism, my eco-anxiety has lessened. I have hope that when we work together in community to agitate the oppressive systems that exist, radical change can happen. There’s a quote by Arhundati Roy that says, ‘A new world is on her way, on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.’ For me, it is when I work together, in community, to resist oppressive systems that I can hear her breathe.”

And on what cause is most important to her: “Whilst migrant and refugee rights, climate justice, ethical fashion, and anti-racism may seem like separate issues, they all overlap so much. Climate justice understands that all social justice issues are influenced and intersect with the climate crisis. Climate justice centres the struggles of the most marginalised at the centre of the climate movement. To me, this is of vital importance.”

Photo Credit: LLM

4. Cliona O’Flaherty and Viviana Taubera from Kokomo Private Island Fiji’s Marine Biology Team

Cliona O’Flaherty (she/her/hers) and Viviana Taubera (she/her/hers) work together on Kokomo Private Island’s trailblazing ocean health initiatives, raising awareness for the issues being faced in marine environments, and dedicating time to educating a more ocean-conscious youth. Sea bin integration, coral restoration, Kokomo manta conservation, a clam nursery, mangrove reforestation, and implementation of a no-take fishing zone are just some of the initiatives Cliona and Viviana have passionately spearheaded at Kokomo Private Island.

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