What is an Environmental Champion?

 This article defines environmental champion. What does it take to become one? An example is provided.

Several years back, I was tasked to deliver a talk in front of colleagues and students about environmental champions. Despite being in the environment field for so long, it was my first time to encounter such word. Understanding is best achieved if uncommon words like this is first defined.

I browsed the web to find out if someone wrote about this term. However, I didn’t exactly arrive at a straightforward definition that I could cite. And I realized the use of this word is not common. I consider situations like this as an opportunity to enrich the web with my own definitions, founded on my understanding of how the word was used.

What is an Environmental Champion?

The only definition I got of an environmental champion is a snippet of a link to the dissertation of Molly MacGregor, a PhD candidate in Brown University, who placed the definition in her vocabulary terms. When I clicked the link, a notice says the page is non-existent. Nevertheless, I could read the first few lines of definition under that link.

Here’s the definition:

An environmental champion is an energetic person who has environmental experience and knowledge who is willing and able to lead a group in an environmentally responsible direction.

I sought to confirm such definition with other references. The truth is, I was looking for a more elaborate discussion of the term. I arrived at another one, again coming from a university. Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, describes an environmental champion, in the university’s context, as an advocate for good environmental practices. He is passionate, interested and willing to learn about the environmental issues that impact at local, national, and global levels. The Champions are part of a network of volunteers who have a keen interest in doing their bit to reduce the environmental impact of the University.

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So, what is common at least in these two definitions? The bottomline is that environmental champions are those people who care for the environment as evidenced by their actions. These are people who are worthy of emulation because of their remarkable environment-friendly achievements.

Simply put, an environmental champion, therefore, is a person who advocates and practices good environmental practices.

Example of an Environmental Champion

Eugenio Paden is an example of an environmental champion. Why is he considered one? The following is his story:

Eugenio Paden is a fisherman in Banacon Island in the province of Bohol in the Philippines. He observed that when mangrove propagules fall into the mud, they start to grow. This gave him the idea that mangroves can be directly planted or seeded.

Driven by his desperate need for a continuous source of firewood and wooden poles for his nipa hut and fish corral, he embarked on a mangrove (Rhizophora stylosa) reforestation project on his own. This appeared to be a crazy venture for the simple yet determined fisherman at the outset.

Ten years later, he made a break. He started harvesting the fruits of his labor. The 20-hectare man-made mangrove plantation yielded him cash from selling firewood and wooden poles for housing. The economic incentive prompted his fellow islanders to follow his footsteps. Thus, the 448 hectare man-made mangrove plantation in Banacon Island that became a tourist spot was born. It is also a sustainable source of crabs, shrimps, shellfish and fish that supply the community’s food needs aside from serving as a buffer against storms.

To learn more about what an environmental champions do, check out Queen’s University’s website and be a champion of the environment.

Reference:

MacGregor, M. n.d. Vocabulary terms. Retrieved March 12, 2014 from http://envstudies.brown.edu/oldsite/Thesis/2004/Molly_Macgregor/Extra%20Pages/Vocabulary_Terms.htm

©  2014 June 21 P. A. Regoniel

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