Introducing the Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland Programme Team...
Catch up on George Monbiot's Gaia Evening Talk 'Out of the Wreckage'
We Feed the World celebrates its 50th Photographic Shoot
Victory! African Commission Passes Resolution to Protect Sacred Natural Sites
Trustees & Advisors
Gaia’s trustees and advisors each bring with them a wealth of experience from all corners of the globe. They are dedicated to a range of fields of work and united in our common vision for nurturing a mutually enhancing relationship with our Earth and each other.
Trustee: Sulemana Abudulai
Abudulai, or Abud as he is fondly known, studied land economy and natural resource management at Cambridge University. He worked for the Stephen Lewis Foundation of Canada and was a member of the International Grants Team at Comic Relief for 12 years. He a member of the Board of Trustees of Transform UK, the African Biodiversity Network and the Earthlore Foundation. Much of the time he lives in Ghana, where he grew up, and dedicates himself to social and ecological justice initiatives including local organisation, RAINS, based in Tamale.
Trustee: Jules Cashford
Jules is a writer and lecturer on Mythology with a background in Philosophy and Literature. She was a Supervisor in Literature at Cambridge for some years, before training as a Jungian Analyst. Jules is the author of The Moon: Symbol of Transformation (2016), Gaia: Story of Origin to Universe Story (The Gaia Foundation, 2012), The Mysteries of Osiris (2010), co-author of The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image (Penguin, 1993), and translator of The Homeric Hymns (Penguin Classics , 2003). She has written a number of booklets on the Imagination, made two films on the Early Northern Renaissance Painter, Jan van Eyck with Kingfisher Art Productions, and also an App and CD for young children called Songs of the Animals. She is a member of the International Association of Analytical Psychology (IAAP) and a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.
Trustee: Edward Posey, OBE
In 1984, Ed co-founded the Gaia Foundation and provided his home in north London as the office. It still remains the base of most Gaia meetings and evening talks to this day. It has become a home away from home for many of Gaia’s visiting partners, community leaders, trustees, advisors and allies. It is a safe haven for their work for justice and viable alternatives and has been a vital part of nurturing our ‘affectionate alliances’. In 2007, Ed was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for ‘services to the Gaia Foundation’. Ed is also Trustee of the Wilderness Foundation UK, the Wilderness Leadership School South Africa and the Green Belt Movement International.
Trustee: Tracy, Marchioness of Worcester
Since 1989, Tracy has been a vocal activist and public speaker for a more local food economy. Her films include Is Small Still Beautiful in India (BBC World), The Politics of Happiness in Bhutan (BBC World) & Pig Business (Channel 4 More 4). Pig Business is in 21 languages with 7 country-specific versions showing campaigners across the world fighting against local factory pig farms. Recently she founded the campaign, Farms not Factories, making short films for social media to show the true cost of cheap pork and urge viewers to only buy meat with a high welfare label. The latest campaign #TurnYourNoseUp includes a series of short films with chefs including Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall and Mark Hix. Tracy continues to expose the horrific conditions of factory pig farms. In August 2016 she went undercover to expose illegal practices in the UK pig industry.
Trustee: Philippe Sibaud
Philippe is a writer and author of Gaia’s flagship reports calling the alert on the impact of the extractive industries on our planet: Opening Pandora’s Box (2012) and Short Circuit (2013). He is a Fairtrade business entrepreneur, currently running a microfinance institution in Malawi supporting small farmers and market traders, 80% of them women. Philippe is completing a Masters Degree in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred at Canterbury Christchurch University.
Trustee: Cecilia Crossley
Founder of the award winning social enterprise From Babies with Love, which supports babies around the world through the sale of organic baby clothes. Cecilia is a Chartered Accountant and experienced in international development having held senior positions at both The Gaia Foundation and VSO.
Advisor: Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria)
Nnimmo Bassey is director of the ecological think-tank, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), based in Nigeria, and a steering committee member of Oilwatch International. He was chair of Friends of the Earth International (2008-2012) and Executive Director of Nigeria’s Environmental Rights Action (1993-2013). He was a co-recipient of the 2010 Right Livelihood Award also known as the “Alternative Noble Prize.” In 2012 he received the Rafto Human Rights Award. In 2014 he received Nigeria’s national honour as Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) in recognition of his environmental activism. Bassey is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects and has authored books on the environment, architecture and poetry. His books include We Thought it Was Oil, But It was Blood –Poetry (Kraft Books, 2002), I will Not Dance to Your Beat – Poetry (Kraft Books, 2011), To Cook a Continent – Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa (Pambazuka Press, 2012) and Oil Politics – Echoes of Ecological War (Daraja Press, 2016).
Advisor: Lara Lutzenberger (Brazil)
Lara is a well-respected biologist and environmentalist in southern Brazil, who continues to promote the ideals of her father, José Lutzenberger, who passed away in 2002. Through Fundação Gaia, training and educational experiences are provided in regenerative agriculture at their rural headquarters, Rincão Gaia, once a 30-hectare basalt quarry and now an abundant example of organic agriculture and animal breeding. Through Fundação Gaia, Lara also provides environmental consulting to help municipalities and states implement sustainable development.
Advisor: Mariana Gomez (Colombia)
Mariana is an anthropologist who has devoted her life to working alongside indigenous communities and peasant farmers to strengthen their cultural practices and ecological knowledge. Gaia first met Mariana in 2013, helping to facilitate a solidarity exchange between her childhood community of Doima and other communities facing mining threats. This encounter played a major part in the founding of the Yes to Life, No to Mining solidarity network. Mariana plays an active role in the network as Regional Coordinator for Latin America, connecting mining affected communities in solidarity so they can exchange tactics for defending their territories. Working with Gaia’s Colombian sister organisation, Gaia Amazonas, Mariana is also championing the Path of the Anacondas an ambitious initiative that seeks to establish a vast eco-cultural ‘mosiac’ from the Andes to the Amazon to the Atlantic.
Advisor: Nigel Crawhall (South Africa)
Nigel has recently taken up post with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris. Prior to this he has been Director of Secretariat for the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) based in Cape Town, South Africa, for seventeen years. He was a consultant to UNESCO’s Culture Section, Division for Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue in this time. He is formerly the Cultural Programme Manager of the South African San Institute and the Director of the South African National Language Project. Nigel is cooperating with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation on developing participatory mapping related training materials. Nigel’s work on Protected Areas has included land claims, participatory mapping, developing advocacy projects on the certification of traditional tracking and various aspects of documenting and supporting intergenerational transmission of intangible heritage, cultural resources and biodiversity knowledge. This has involved working with indigenous peoples and local communities in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Niger, Kenya, Gabon and Tanzania. Nigel is also active in interfaith work related to democratic governance and climate justice issues.
Advisor: Martin von Hildebrand (Colombia)
Gaia met the anthropologist Martín von Hildebrand in 1989 when he was negotiating as Colombia’s government representative, for the landmark International Convention on the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ILO Convention 169). In 1990 Gaia established support from the European Commission for putting the conservation of the Colombian Amazon firmly in the hands of its indigenous peoples. Martín resigned from government and set-up a local organisation, Gaia Amazonas, and together with Gaia, indigenous communities and other partners, the long term programme COAMA (Consolidation of the Amazon) was established. Today, over 25 million hectares of the Colombia’s Amazon forest is being preserved by the indigenous communities, who have taken on the rights and responsibilities of local governance. In 2015, Martin successfully persuaded the president of Colombia to lead in establishing an ‘eco-cultural corridor’ protecting up to 230 million hectares of rainforest stretching from the Andes to the Atlantic coast.
Advisor: Theo Sowa (UK & Ghana)
Theo Sowa is Chief Executive Officer at the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and an independent advisor and consultant specialising in international social development and women and children’s rights. Born in Ghana, she has lived and worked in many countries in Africa, and holds advisory roles to African and international women’s rights activists and leaders. Theo was awarded a CBE in June 2010 and in 2012 delivered the TED talk We Need the Voices of African Rural Women. In 2015 Gaia released the report Celebrating African Rural Women – Custodians of Seed, Food and Traditional Knowledge for Climate Change Resilience alongside the African Biodiversity Network and the African Women’s Development Fund. Theo wrote the foreword to the report and spoke at the launch. She says in the report that “at the heart of this relationship between Africa’s women farmers and seed is a legacy of traditional knowledge that we cannot afford to lose.”
Advisor: Silvia Gomez (Colombia)
Silvia Gomez is the Head of Greenpeace Colombia, based just outside Bogota. An anthropologist by training, Silvia has a long history with Gaia, working first for our partner Gaia Amazonas, and then as an eco-cultural map facilitator with many of our partners, including Earthlore. During her time as an anthropologist, Silvia lived for almost 10 years with indigenous Amazonian communities. She says they taught her the value of the forest as a source of life and it was this time that inspired her to commit her working life to stop the destruction of Nature, exercised by economic and political powers. As a member of Efecto Mariposa, in recent years Silvia has been leading the Certificate in Holistic Science and Economics for Transition in Colombia, in association with Schumacher College UK. This course inspires a wide range of people to embrace transition and transformation towards a more sustainable future. At home, Silvia, her partner and their two daughters have been developing a farming project of their own; complete with Sheepdog! Silvia is a much loved member of Gaia’s extended family.
Advisor: Joanna Macy (US)
Ecophilosopher Joanna Macy is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A respected voice in the movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with five decades of activism. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, she has created a groundbreaking theoretical framework for personal and social change, as well as a powerful workshop methodology for its application. Her wide-ranging work addresses psychological and spiritual issues of the nuclear age, the cultivation of ecological awareness, and the fruitful resonance between Buddhist thought and contemporary science. Many people around the world have participated in Joanna’s workshops and trainings. Her group methods, known as the Work That Reconnects, have been adopted and adapted to help people transform despair and apathy, in the face of overwhelming social and ecological crises, into constructive, collaborative action. Gaia first met Joanna in 1989 and has been inspired by her since, incorporating her teaching and methodologies into our Earth Jurisprudence trainings.
Advisor: Gurdial Singh Nijar (Malaysia)
Gurdial Singh Nijar is an advocate and solicitor and presently a legal consultant at the law firm Sreenevasan, UNDP-GEF Project of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and UNDP-GEF Project of the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre. He holds an LLB (Hons) degree from King’s College London and a Masters Law degree from the University of Malaya. He was a Law Professor at University of Malaya’s Law Faculty for 16 years. Presently the Vice President of HAKAM, the Malaysian Human Rights Society, he is also the Founder-Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Law, Senior Research Fellow at the South Centre, Geneva; Legal Expert for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome; and former member of the Compliance Committee, UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Gurdial led Malaysia and developing countries in international negotiations that led to the adoption of three international treaties, namely The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) arising from their Utilisation (2010); The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Damage Resulting from Living Modified Organisms (2010); and The Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2015). Gurdial has authored several books including Patenting Life Forms: Law & Practice; Civil Trial Advocacy; and Drafting for Lawyers. Gaia worked closely with Gurdial in the 1990’s to stop patents on life and defend community rights, and later on Earth Jurisprudence.
Advisor: Melaku Worede (Ethiopia)
Melaku Worede was born in Ethiopia in 1936. After obtaining a PhD in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska, he returned to Ethiopia and became involved in the planning of the Plant Genetic Resources Centre in Addis Ababa, of which he became Director in 1979. Ethiopia is one of the world’s eight ‘Vavilov Centres’ noted for their great genetic diversity. It is this bio-diversity – now under great threat from drought and modern farming methods – that Worede has sought to preserve. Further, the Plant Genetic Resources Centre (PGRC) set out to establish ‘Strategic Seed Reserves’ of traditional varieties that could be released to farmers for planting in times of drought when no other seeds were likely to thrive. In only a few years, Worede and his staff collected and safely stored a considerable amount of Ethiopia’s genetic wealth. In the process, he established not only Africa’s finest facility of its kind, but also one of the world’s premier genetic conservation systems. Worede built this institution exclusively with Ethiopian staff, training a whole new generation of plant breeders and geneticists in his home country. In 1993 Melaku joined the Seeds of Survival Programme of Ethiopia, which he founded with the support of a consortium of Canadian NGOs led by the Unitarian Service Committee (USC Canada). Melaku Worede was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1989 and in 2015 Gaia made a film about his life’s work: Seeds of Justice – In the Hands of Farmers. He has been a critical advisor to our work with communities on seed, food sovereignty and climate change resilience.
Advisor: Vandana Shiva (India)
Gaia met Vandana Shiva in the mid eighties when she was fiercely defending indigenous seed varieties and farmers against the Green Revolution’s commercial seed and chemical fertilizers, which had firmly gripped Asia. Gaia worked with Vandana to bring this message to Africa, warning about the Indian experience of the destructive impact of genetically modified crops and chemical inputs. Monsanto, the largest and most aggressive private seed and agro-chemical company in the world, was at this time using South Africa as its entry point to the continent. Vandana is one of the most respected activists against GM, featuring in numerous documentaries on the subject – including Gaia’s 2012 film Seeds of Freedom and the most recent US documentary Seed: The Untold Story. She has written numerous publications exposing the impact of GM on farmers in India and beyond, and her organization Navdanya supports small scale farmers across India.
Advisor: Jacqueline McGlade (UK & Kenya)
Jacquie McGlade was appointed Chief Scientist at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in early 2014. She also holds the post of Professor in Environmental Informatics in the Department of Mathematics at University College London, from which she took leave to take up the position of Executive Director of the European Environment Agency between 2003 and 2013. Prior to this, she was Director of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Sciences of the UK Natural Environment Research Council, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Warwick, Director of Theoretical Ecology at the Forschungszentrum Jülich and Senior Scientist at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in the Federal Government of Canada. Her research is focused on governance and environmental informatics with particular reference to ecosystems, marine resources and climate change. She has over 200 peer-reviewed papers, articles, books and legal submissions and has produced and presented a number of TV and radio series and programmes plus three feature films. She has been awarded international prizes and honours from Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Romania, Sweden, UK and the USA. Jacquie has held a number of key advisory roles and chairs at national level, including Trustee of the Natural History Museum and Board Member of the Environment Agency, at European level, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and at international levels including for the United Nations and the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research. Gaia has worked with Jacquie for many years and had many adventures together.
Advisor: Satish Kumar (UK)
A former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, Satish is perhaps best known as the editor of Resurgence magazine, now The Ecologist & Resurgence. In his 20s he was inspired by British peace activist Bertrand Russell, and embarked on an 8,000-mile peace pilgrimage together with E.P. Menon. Carrying no money and depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers, they walked from India to America, via Moscow, London and Paris, to deliver a humble packet of ‘peace tea’ to the then leaders of the world’s four nuclear powers. In 1973 Satish settled in the United Kingdom taking up the post of editor of Resurgence magazine. He is a regular teacher at Schumacher College in South Devon where he is still a Visiting Fellow. His autobiography, No Destination, was first published by Green Books in 1978 and he is also the author of You Are, Therefore I Am: A Declaration of Dependence and The Buddha and the Terrorist. In 2005, Satish was Sue Lawley’s guest on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. In 2008, as part of BBC2’s Natural World series, he presented a 50-minute documentary from Dartmoor, Earth Pilgrim, which was watched by over 3.6 million people. Satish is on the Advisory Board of Our Future Planet.
Advisor: Juan Mayr (Colombia)
Juan Mayr Maldonado, former Colombian Minister for the Environment, has dedicated his life to the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity as the mainstay for cultural diversity, sustainable livelihoods and good governance. A professional photographer, he immersed himself in environmental issues and protecting the ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, on Colombia’s northern coast, in the 1970s. His experience in both government and non-government sectors includes key roles such as Minister for the Environment (1998-2002) and IUCN Vice-President (1993-96). He has presided over major conferences and negotiations on environment and sustainable development, including sessions of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the Biosafety Protocol negotiations. As a member of the National Conciliation Commission and advisor to the UNDP (Colombia), he has consistently promoted ecological and social justice as core elements for a sustainable path towards peace and reconciliation. He recently served as Colombian Ambassador to Germany (2011-16), and is currently part of the government team negotiating for a peaceful settlement with the ELN (Ejercito de Liberación Nacional).
Stephan oversees the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College. He was born in Venezuela in 1953, and came to England at the age of six. Since childhood he has held a deep fascination with the natural world, and his scientific cast of mind lead him to do a degree in Zoology at the University of Durham and then a doctorate on the behavioural ecology of the muntjac deer at Oxford University. After completing his first degree he returned to Venezuela where he was a field assistant for the Smithsonian Institute, studying mammalian diversity in the rainforest and in the lowland plains. After Oxford Stephan was appointed Visiting Professor in Wildlife Management at the National University in Costa Rica, where he lived for two years before becoming a founder member of Schumacher College in 1990. The College’s first teacher was James Lovelock who coined Gaia Theory. They remain close friends. Stephan is author of Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia. Green Books, and editor of Grow Small, Think Beautiful. Floris Books. He is also the writer and presenter of the documentary film Animate Earth. Gaia has collaborated with Stephan for many years and drawn on his writings for our Earth Jurisprudence trainings.
Advisor: Colin Campbell (South Africa)
Colin is a practitioner of traditional African medicine, based in Cape Town, South Africa and the UK. He receives clients from all over the world, and facilitates international group processes relating to natural law, transformation, healing & personal power, sacred sites, and cross-cultural cosmology. His work bridges major world cities with ancestral homelands and forgotten wilderness, taking him from the Amazon Basin to Los Angeles, the sacred sites of Venda to the urban grit of Johannesburg, and remote Ethiopia to the City of London. Colin co-founded and co-runs a training school in Botswana for traditional doctors and sangomas with his brother Niall Campbell. They grew up in rural southeastern Botswana, the sons of a renowned anthropologist and a creative healing mother. In his childhood travels with his father he slept under stars and learned from traditional San people. At the age of eleven he was called to being trained and initiated as a traditional doctor and sangoma. He thus acquired a deep knowledge of Tswana culture and its traditional medicinal and spiritual practices. Gaia has worked closely with Colin and his brother Niall in developing a range of experiential trainings in African cosmology, including the Botswana Process.
Advisor: Maggie Baxter, OBE (UK)
Maggie is an independent consultant for the voluntary sector and Trustee for the Green Belt Movement International. Former Executive Director of WOMANKIND Worldwide she has since set up Rosa, the first UK-wide fund for projects with women and girls. Prior to this Maggie was Deputy Chief Executive and Grants Director at Comic Relief where she was responsible for the allocation of all Red Nose Day income. She was seconded whilst at Comic Relief to set up the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. She has also been a London adviser to the Baring Foundation, and a grants officer in the Grants Unit of Camden Council. Maggie was awarded an OBE in 2010 for her services to the voluntary sector and women’s philanthropy.
Advisor: Ailton Krenak (Brazil)
Ailton Krenak was born in the Doce River valley in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. A member of the Krenaki tribe, at 17-years old he learned how to read and write, became a graphic producer and journalist, and dedicated himself to the indigenous movement in Brazil. In 1987, he captured media and public attention by painting his face black while delivering a speech in the National Congress, as a gesture of mourning for the backwards steps being taken on indigenous rights. A charismatic leader, he brought together the 180 different indigenous tribes of Brazil and worked tirelessly for Indigenous Rights to become part of the country’s official constitution.
In the late 80’s Ailton Krenak and Chico Mendez united and in doing so helped overcome historical tensions between the indigenous peoples and the rubber tappers. Together they created a stronger Forest People’s Movement to stand up to the destructive forces threatening them. In 1988 Gaia launched the Forest People’s Support Group and the Forest People’s Fund, to enable them to organise their resistance and educate society about their diverse cultures and role in maintaining life in the forest. Today, the young indigenous leaders involved are leading their communities and still working closely with Ailton to advocate for indigenous rights and the protection of their ancestral lands across Latin America. Ailton remains a great inspiration to Gaia. He taught us about indigenous cosmology in the early days of our work, and was one of the first with whom we built an lifelong ‘affectionate alliance’.
Advisor: Andrew Muir (South Africa)
Dr Andrew Muir is CEO of the Wilderness Foundation Africa. Andrew was mentored by conservation icon Dr Ian Player for 13 years, and took over his legacy in the management of the various organisations that he had founded, including the world famous Wilderness Leadership School and Wilderness Foundation. Whilst being the CEO of the Wilderness Foundation Africa, Andrew is also CEO of the recently established Wilderness Foundation Global and is on the boards of various conservation and business organisations in South Africa as well as globally. Andrew has received many awards over the years, including; Environmentalist of the Year – 2007 and Social Entreprenuer for Africa 2012.
Advisor: Brian Swimme (US)
Brian is a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Oregon in 1978 for work in gravitational dynamics. He brings the context of story to our understanding of the 13.7 billion year trajectory of cosmogenesis. Such a story, he feels, will assist in the emergence of a flourishing Earth community. Brian is the author of The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos and The Universe is a Green Dragon. He is co-author of The Universe Story, which is the result of a 10 year collaboration with the cultural historian and former Gaia advisor, the late Thomas Berry. Brian Swimme is the creator of three educational video series: Canticle to the Cosmos (1990), Earth’s Imagination (1998), and The Powers of the Universe (2006) as well as the recent film Journey of the Universe. Brian lectures widely and has presented at conferences sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The World Bank, UNESCO, The United Nations Millennium Peace Summit, and the American Museum of Natural History.