We will succeed through COLLABORATIVE empowerment!

We will succeed through COLLABORATIVE empowerment!

I’m Akshay Vishwanath, a Kenyan environmentalist whose interest in conservation started at a young age having grown up in proximity to Kenya’s rich wildlife and beautiful landscapes. As I continued to deliberately engage with nature in my teenage years, I developed an ardent interest in understanding the power of human agency – how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary feats by focusing on a specific issue, organizing themselves, challenging the status quo, and daring to be bold. This curiosity led me to what many would call my calling; the pursuit of empowerment as a means to achieve environmental and social justice. The Top 100 Award really validated the impact of my work so far and reminded me that there is still much to be done to embed these values in the various cultures within Kenya and beyond.

To date, my work has revolved around three main focus areas. Firstly, engaging directly in implementing conservation projects across Eastern and Southern Africa. Over the years, I have been involved in landscape-level efforts on integrated water resource management, forest landscape restoration, drylands/rangelands management, protected area management, and community-based anti-poaching initiatives. The second focus area is on developing practical organizational strategies that seek to empower and strengthen local African conservation organizations ensuring they deliver impact at a larger scale. Advocacy is the third and most important part of what I do; building the capacity of small local organizations to embrace and call for better management and protection of public green spaces and national parks and forests from their leaders. Bridging this tremendous gap between policy makers and the public is at the center of where I devote my greatest efforts.

One of my greatest goals is to institutionalize public involvement in advocacy efforts that revolve around conservation. I aim to achieve this through the establishment of a local membership-based funded organization that undertakes public interest litigation on environmental matters on behalf of Kenyans. At the same time, I am keen to expand the portfolio of local conservation organizations that I partner with to improve their effectiveness and impact. . Hopefully, this first step will unlock the opportunities to engage and empower the general public within Kenya so that the rest of the continent can learn from our sustainable success.

My message to other conservationists is to be bold, think outside the box, and persevere. You cannot change the world using traditional methods nor by doubting yourself or giving up. To succeed, you have to push through the barriers and learn through failure, rather than be defeated by it. If you have a dream, go for it!

LinkedIn Profile:

www.linkedin.com/in/akshay-vishwanath-kenya

Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W0EJxBNwec (min 1.10-1.54)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccZrdxfDHY4&t=554s (min 9.12-9.31)

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154907251957948&id=511132947

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