Former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, Neville Isdell and Peace Parks Foundation CEO Werner Myburgh discuss why Peace Parks is so unique when it comes to conservation. They also explore the crucial role that can be played by business leaders with big, bold and visionary ideas.
Since his days at Coco-Cola, Neville has been preoccupied with the environment and preserving nature. When he once suggested that Coca-Cola could be water-neutral by 2020, his idea rather baffled everyone. Yet, in 2015 Coca-Cola’s production did, in fact, become water-neutral. This is one of Neville’s proudest legacies and one that he believes can stand as motivator to big businesses all over the globe. Neville proposes that it is only by taking the time to find out exactly where a business has a negative footprint, that it can be then challenged, worked through so that business practices can be adjusted towards a carbo- or other neutral outcome.
He stresses the importance of looking at conservation holistically, regarding large landscapes as complete ecosystems rather than being bound by country or territorial lines that have been arbitrarily placed on a map at some point in history. This is especially true in Africa, of course. What makes Peace Parks Foundation different from so many other conservation charities, is that it works across boundaries. The Peace Parks’ dream is to reconnect Africa’s wild spaces to create a future for humankind in harmony with nature. It is by conquering boundaries, Peace Parks believes, that it will be possible to re-establish, renew and preserve large functional ecosystems – protect and regenerate natural resources and heritage vital to enabling and sustaining life on this awe-inspiring continent.
Peace Parks Foundation and partners work together to look at the whole picture in striving towards the development and protection of transfrontier conservation areas. Working with communities, getting their engagement, is essential, for real and lasting conservation to occur. When communities can see the benefit of repopulating their land with wildlife it creates a special bond between the people who live and work on the land.
And of the future of conservation? Neville believes that more needs to be done to ensure people believe in the value a peace park brings to their country, society, home and person. He maintains that there is a need for conservation programmes to be integrated into a national plan, to ensure the continued conservation of protected areas. His plea to the business community is to invest in development that understands the broader issues of conservation, and in the interconnectedness of us all.