Vandana Shiva from India, Martin Khor and Gurdial Singh Nijar from Malaysia, have been Gaia Associates for many years. Social and ecological visionaries, they have played an important role in mentoring many of the newer partner organizations that Gaia has nurtured through its global network.
Back in the early-1990s, Martin Khor from Third World Network organised the Life Sciences conference in Penang, Malaysia, which brought together many of the early Gaia Associates and Advisers, including José Lutzenberger, Vandana Shiva and Tewolde Berhan Egziabher, as well as Jacqueline McGlade, Brian Goodwin and Teddy Goldsmith, and brought the subject of genetic engineering to the attention of the world.
Vandana Shiva had recently established the Research Foundation, an independent network of researchers specialising in the areas of sustainable agriculture, intellectual property rights, environment and biodiversity. She also founded Navdanya to promote farmer led solutions including community seed banks for genetic resource conservation, which helped maintain farmers rights to collect and store their own seed.
Vandana Shiva, Martin Khor, Dr Idris and Gurdial Singh Nijar helped the Gaia team navigate the unfamiliar territory of global trade. Dr Idris is a wise Elder who has always been there for the movement. Gurdial Singh Nijar worked with Third World Network as the advocate for the indigenous peoples of Malaysia. Gaia worked closely with Gurdial, Martín von Hildebrand and Tewolde Egaiabher, on indigenous and communal rights. More recently Gurdial has established a training in Biodiversity related Law at Kuala Lumpur University which includes teaching Earth Law.