Why the Giants Club is needed more now than ever

Emma Ledger
Monday 09 August 2021 11:26
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With G7, the Illegal Wildlife Trade Summit, COP26, G20 and the Convention on Biological Diversity in China, 2021 is set to be a critical year for nature.

While Covid-19 continues to ravage economies and dominate headlines, world leaders have made bold and sweeping pledges to address the climate and biodiversity crises that can no longer be ignored.

Heads of State, including President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, have powerfully made the case that no one nation can solve the climate crisis on its own; rather, we must harness the power of collectivism.

President Bongo said “given the scale of the risks to people and the planet, we simply cannot stand by and watch wildlife continue to disappear without strengthening our collective response, including international laws for combating and preventing wildlife crime.”

As a founding member of the Giants Club, an initiative by the international conservation organisation Space for Giants, President Bongo long ago proved his enduring commitment to conserving Africa’s most important natural ecosystems.

The Giants Club, an initiative of conservation organisation Space for Giants, is an exclusive high level group which gathers those with the political power, financial resources, global influence and scientific expertise to work towards the same aim; to save wildlife and protect the planet.

As well as powerful political muscle, the Giants Club’s diverse membership of experts, philanthropists and corporate leaders committed to ecological sustainability enables it to provide a loud voice on the global stage to advance the protection of wildlife and the natural landscapes they depend on.

Coming together across sectors and geographies, members of the Giants Club create opportunities to not only talk about critical issues, but to advance sustainable solutions and provide funding to ensure that plans are implemented successfully.

Earlier this year the Giants Club welcomed Dubai Ports World (DP World), the leading provider of worldwide smart end-to-end supply chain and logistics, enabling the flow of trade across the globe.

The use of this technology is critical to physically disrupting the multi-billion pound illegal wildlife trade industry, which flourishes by exploiting loopholes in the monitoring of globally shipped goods. Working together with DP World, the Giants Club’s implementing charity Space for Giants is fighting to make sure that all ports are secure, and to strengthen judicial systems to ensure that anyone who is found to be involved in the illegal trade of wildlife is appropriately punished.

Another recently-joined member is Alya Michelson, an artist, philanthropist, and journalist. With her husband, Dr. Gary K. Michelson, she co-chairs Michelson Philanthropies - the Los Angeles-based network of private foundations.

As a leading advocate for animal welfare and protection, Alya was involved in helping to pass California’s Wildlife Protection Act of 2019, which prohibits commercial or recreational trapping on both public and private lands; and AB44, which makes it unlawful to manufacture, sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, give, donate or otherwise distribute a fur product in the state.

Alya says “our current relationship with nature is unsustainable, and investment in nature—including ending deforestation and controlling the wildlife trade—is essential. With my husband, we know the key is effective advocacy and lobbying efforts to make the case for the world’s wealthiest nations to invest in the protection of natural ecosystems and the diversity of the life they hold.”

“I am honored to join the distinguished heads of state, and other dedicated leaders from industry, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy, in the Giants Club to press for the changes needed to protect these precious habitats.”

Fellow member Julie-Anne Uggla has been committed to working with charities since 1992. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Canada, her global work spans the UK, Ukraine, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Zambia. Julie-Anne has worked as a large-scale fundraiser, a major donor, executive producer and advisor and as a charity founder. In 2003 she founded Zamcog, a charity assisting and educating disadvantaged and vulnerable children in Zambia. Her impact initiatives, operated under her family’s Fôr Foundation, include social enterprise, impact investing and corporate giving. She has been instrumental in helping to expand Space for Giants’ wildlife justice programme into the KAZA region.

Magnus Rausing founded MAHR Projects, an early-stage investment vehicle, in 2018 to back purpose driven founders at the intersection of consumer and technology. Active as a direct investor and limited partner in more than 30 startups and five funds, Magnus has experience throughout the venture universe. He is currently working on a new fund, UNTITLED, that hopes to further support founders and their culturally relevant businesses.

Entrepreneurial lawyer James Knight founded Keystone Law from his dining table in 2002 before listing it 15 years later on the London Stock Exchange. He remains actively involved with Keystone as the firm’s CEO, however James is passionate about wildlife and preservation of the natural world. He supports a range of charitable initiatives and is currently establishing Keystone Species, a foundation dedicated to raising money to support animals at risk. James is currently serving as executive producer of a full-length film based on the international best-selling book, The Elephant Whisperer.

Laurel Mader grew up in South Africa, where she developed a deep appreciation and love for nature. She has seen and experienced the consequences of biodiversity loss across the continent first hand over the past four decades. Laurel has spent the past five years as a strategic marketing consultant to WWF South Africa. Prior to that her career in marketing and advertising spanned over twenty years where her experience involved oversight of big local and global brands - as a disciplined strategic thinker, agency managing director, and marketing manager. She now dedicates her keen marketing and strategic experience to environmental projects, and is passionate about making a difference in this space.

Together these newest members of the Giants Club are raising the collective call for global policies that meet the moment and embracing the power of focused action on the ground to drive results.

For more information about the Giants Club visit Spaceforgiants.org/giants-club

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