Pienaar du Plessis | WWF South Africa

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Pienaar du Plessis

2019 intern

Pienaar du Plessis believes the way we produce and consume food perfectly illustrates how our world interacts with nature to its detriment. He believes that food, as something all humans have in common, has the power to bring people together for a common goal – to create a lasting future for nature.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation Ecology and Master of Science degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Stellenbosch University, he has been placed as an Agricultural Consultant intern with Living Lands.

We asked him to share more:

What motivated your career choice?
I grew up gardening with my mother. Watching things grow and harvesting the literal fruits of my labour was magic. I knew that I wanted to continue on this path in whatever career I chose. As an avid reader, I spent a lot of time reading books about Ecology and environmentalism. Experiencing the wonder of the natural world is what motivated me to pursue this career.
 
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
I want to learn more about the political framework surrounding environmental issues in South Africa so that I can identify where I can make the biggest difference.
 
What excites you the most about the internship?
I’m excited about developing my facilitation skills. The ability to bring people together from different backgrounds is an invaluable skill for an environmentalist.
 
What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
Climate change and degrading ecosystems are two sides of the same coin. Both are impacted by a society that prioritises gaining the most from the extraction of the Earth’s resources. These are major problems because they jeopardise the conditions that ensure a liveable planet for us all, humans and other species alike.
 
What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
I want to help foster a new value system, one that will help us bridge the perceived divide between people and nature. Our current paradigm obscures this relationship and many of the consequences we face today are a result of our inability to see this connection. Broadening our vision and understanding of the interconnectedness of life requires a shift in the way we think and behave.
 
If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
For world leaders to have the courage to use their political will to do what is needed to ensure a lasting, liveable planet.
 
Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire everyone who is working for a better environment. There are so many heroes that have contributed to advancing an environmental cause and there are too many to name. I have recently been inspired by Greta Thunberg’s perseverance that has served as a catalyst for a global movement.
 
What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
We are probably the last generation that still has a chance to prevent the total collapse of our natural world. Climate change and habitat loss are threatening our existence. If our generation does not manage to turn it around, then we won’t have a future. We need to speak with one voice and to build an international climate movement that will catalyse the radical change we need.

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