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Time to act

We caught up with Helena Lindemark to find out about her latest projects – and why she’s shifted ‘from words to action’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Helena Lindemark outside the SDG banners a the UN HQ in New York

Main image: Helena at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) banners outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York

This article first appeared in our International Women’s Day issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 08 March 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Ahead of International Women’s Day, we spoke to female founder and sustainability entrepreneur Helena Lindemark, the founder of the 2022 Initiative Foundation who, in our June 2022 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, told ‘the real story behind Stockholm+50’.

The 2022 Initiative Foundation has worked closely with Greta Thunberg and the Fridays For Future (FFF) network; thanks to a lot of hard work and dedication – in particular from Helena’s side – the foundation managed to raise the funds to help around 20 youths from Fridays for Future’s Most Affected People and Areas (MAPA) – from Africa, Latin America and Asia – to attend the Stockholm+50 UN conference.

At the conference several of the youths gave speeches; Rahmina Paullete spoke at Spotify and Morris Ngaruya performed two of his songs. He has now also recorded an album.

During Stockholm+50, My Green Pod co-founder Jarvis Smith released the fundraising cover version of Swedish House Mafia’s Save The World, featuring Rita Morar.

MAPA youths and Greta Thunberg appear in the video, which is helping to save the world in a very tangible way.

Artist royalties are donated to Fridays For Future’s MAPA; the more you play the song, the more money will be raised.

The 2022 Initiative Foundation has been accredited by UNEP since 2021; in January 2023 it was selected to be granted consultative status with ECOSOC, allowing further engagement and advocacy work to accelerate action for sustainable development and support involvement of youth – in particular from MAPA.

The foundation also continues to raise funds to help MAPA’s voices to be heard – in international meetings, through music and by shining a light on specific projects, such as the Let Lake Victoria Breathe Again campaign, spearheaded by Rahmina Paulette.

Concrete action

‘After Stockholm+50 I felt it was time to move from words to action’, Helena tells us. ‘Training personnel and helping companies to integrate sustainability into their core business is one approach, but I felt that even more concrete action is needed.’

Instead of going to COP27, Helena decided to focus on setting up ‘a concrete project’ in the Amazon.

Following a project formulation mission to Bolivia in November, a major pilot project has been developed and is now close to being fully funded.

‘The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world’, Helena shares, ‘but severe deforestation means time to save the Amazon is running out.’

Scientists have warned the Amazon is close to a tipping point after which the humid, biodiverse rainforest will not be able to recover, and will instead degrade into a dry savannah.

This would cause a domino effect that could catalyse other tipping points, accelerating climate change and biodiversity loss.

‘The tipping point of the Amazon rainforest is estimated at 20-25% deforestation’, Helena tells us. ‘The current deforestation rate is 17%, with an additional 17% degraded. Bolivia has the second-highest deforestation rate in the Amazon region, after Brazil, with 300,000 hectares of primary forest lost in 2021.’

Amazon for Life

Helena co-founded the Amazon for Life project in a bid to change the current trend, starting with a series of pilot projects.

One focuses on fruits and berries of the Amazon and is developed in close collaboration with researchers, Indigenous communities and Bolivian and internationally renowned entrepreneurs and impact investors.

Other projects target the conservation of over 200,000 hectares of forest within forestry concessions threatened by illegal logging and fires, and the restoration and reforestation of degraded private farmland.

An additional Amazon for Life pilot, in collaboration with Indigenous communities, targets the conservation and reforestation of forests and the commercialisation of sustainably produced products in up to 13m hectares, all owned by Indigenous communities.

Helena is also involved in impact investment and has collaborated with the authors of the recently published Principles of Intrapreneurial Capital to help integrate sustainability into ‘methods for transformational innovations’ within organisations.

‘Training, awareness-raising and a new digital tool – an ESG Index focusing on facilitating and accelerating sustainability within small- and medium-sized enterprises – are other ways I’m trying to change the situation’, Helena says.

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