It is hard to miss such a fabulous organisation as My Green World. In an effort to engage more people with wildlife and environmental issues, Natalie Kyriacou created My Green World in 2013. The foundation of the company is to develop innovative and educational platforms that enhance the efforts of global wildlife and environmental conservation and engage and inspire people from all over the world in unique charitable initiatives and educational programs.
Natalie’s brainchild is partnered with 18 global charities, who focus on issues including, but not limited to; wildlife conservation, environmental conservation, animal welfare, community development, climate change, resource scarcity and poverty alleviation. She hopes to inspire the next generation of change makers by creating a vast network of people and organisations that are committing to engaging in wildlife and environmental issues long term.
Natalie Kyriacou and Green World TV’s Founder Anneka Svenska made contact when they realised that their ideologies were the same and that they were also supporting many of the same charities. Both Anneka and Natalie have partnered up to support each organisation’s work in a bid to help put an end to wildlife and environmental destruction.
Natalie Kyriacou is the Founding Director of My Green World and the Creator of World of the Wild mobile game app. She sits on the Board of Directors for Dogstar Foundation and was selected as one of Australia’s 2015 ‘Social Pioneers’ by the Foundation for Young Australians and is a finalist for the Victorian Young Achiever Award. She is an avid traveler, animal lover, writer, and feminist.
- Natalie – tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you start working with wildlife?
In 2008 I travelled from my hometown in Melbourne, Australia, to spend some time connecting with nature throughout Asia. My first stop was Sri Lanka, where I worked with abused elephants in a rural community near Kegalle. It was in Sri Lanka that I first lay witness to the huge animal overpopulation problem that the country was experiencing.
I was astounded particularly by the street dog overpopulation problem: at every street crossing, every corner, and outside every shopfront was a roaming street dog. Most often, they were riddled with mange, a parasitic skin disease, and starved beyond belief. Thousands upon thousands of dogs and cats were in urgent need of medical attention, scattered across the worn streets of Sri Lanka, and nobody seemed to be helping them. Hidden within a tiny canteen in an obscure village in Sri Lanka, I came across a modest pamphlet which simply said “Dogstar Foundation- Contact us if you have a dog in need.” I began enquiring after this mystery charity, and eventually was able to meet Samantha and Mark Green, the Founders of Dogstar Foundation. Soon afterward, I became heavily involved in Dogstar Foundation, which has expanded into a leading Sri Lankan charity that is transforming the lives of animals in Sri Lanka and providing education to communities throughout the region.
From Sri Lanka, I journeyed to Malaysian Borneo, where I spent time working with orphaned and abused orangutans who were rapidly losing their habitat to palm oil plantations. These plantations had eaten away at a continent once ample in species, engulfing the countryside and swallowing the rich diversity of the famous jungle. I returned to Melbourne feeling determined to educate my community, and the greater international community, on the injustices that I had witnessed. That was when the idea of My Green World was born. Since then, I have travelled widely, partnering with various charities around the world in order to create a collective platform where people can work together to fight for the future of our planet.
- What inspired you to set up My Green World?
I founded My Green World in 2013, while undertaking a Master’s degree in International Relations and Development at the University of Melbourne. As I mentioned, I had been heavily engaged in wildlife, environmental and animal welfare initiatives for the past few years, and decided to launch my own initiative to advance the profile of charities worldwide and to revolutionise the way that the international community connected with global wildlife, environmental, animal welfare and developmental issues.
My first project at My Green World was to create a mobile game app called World of the Wild; a gam that I hoped would re-engage communities with wildlife and environmental issues through fun gameplay. I noticed that while there were so many mobile games in the app store, there were very few that were inspiring change, education and activism. I thought, maybe I can help save wildlife through a game!
In World of the Wild, every day people can participate in virtual wildlife conservation scenarios. The game represents 18 global charities and gamifies the concept of saving animals. Each action that users take in this app represents a real life scenario that is carried out by My Green World’s partner charities in real life. In this game, users can build their own wildlife sanctuary, and rescue, feed and provide medical care for a variety of animals, compete in educational pop quizzes, and meet some of the world’s most endangered species.
- You have some very special charities and non-profit groups on your website – what were you drawn to when asking these charities to support My Green World?
I feel so lucky to be able to support such a diverse range of charities, all of whom are making a remarkable difference in the world. I was drawn to charities who supported the conservation and protection of wildlife, and were opposed to any form of exploitation and unnecessary captivity. These charities are all vastly different from one another; operating across different continents, and facing different challenges, however, they all share the same vision and values, and are dedicated to preserving and promoting wildlife and environmental conservation and empowering and educating communities on the importance of our natural world.
- What are your aspirations for My Green World in the future?
The opportunities for My Green World are really limitless. I want to create a global ecosystem where people can connect with wildlife and environmental issues and initiatives, where they can learn, feel inspired and be encouraged to make change. I want to be a leading resource for individuals and charities around the world to feel empowered to take action in unique ways. I want to provide our next generation with the tools to be able to ensure the survival of our planet and all of its species. But most of all, I want to be able to prevent our world’s wildlife and their habitats from suffering at the hands of humanity.
- Some charities find it hard to work together, why do you think they should overcome this for the sake of our planet?
Absolutely. I think that collaboration among charities is crucial to achieving any sort of success. We are faced with huge barriers, and sometimes it seems that the odds are not tipped in our favor. Wildlife extinction, habitat erosion, food insecurity, poverty, climate change and animal abuses are all gargantuan issues that sometimes seem too big to take on. Such challenges require a collective response, where we recognize and embrace our collective vision for a better future.
As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
- The world is predicted to lose most of its wildlife over the next 100 years, how can people help to stop this?
We are now entering a new epoch in the history of planet earth. The rapidity of species extinction and the consequences of global warming are impacting the earth at an unparalleled scale and rate. The great evolutionary events and wipeouts in the earth’s historical record which have taken place over millions of years are now rivalled by the current chapter; the reign of humanity, which has succeeded in extinguishing wildlife on earth in mere centuries.
Humanity has produced almost instantaneous planetary-scale disruption, leaving us in the middle of one of the greatest mass extinctions in the history of life on earth, which scientists have labelled the ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’.
One of the most momentous drivers of such an apocalyptic event is animal agriculture.
The global demand for animal-based products, whether it be for food, medicine or trinkets is having a startling impact on planet earth. The production of animal products is propelling climate change and ocean acidification; spawning natural disasters, wiping out forests, and creating a global wildlife trafficking epidemic that is not only funding terrorism, but eviscerating whole species. We are witnessing a great domino effect of disasters, which can largely be attributed to our global food production system, which needs to be radically and fundamentally altered.
Agriculture currently accounts for 75% of global deforestation, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 %. Furthermore, livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
It is very clear that the most significant thing any individual can do to protect our planet is to stop buying, supporting and consuming animal-based products.
To find out more about Natalie and My Green World, please follow the links below:
Download World of the Wild game app here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/world-of-the-wild/id1021830126?mt=8
Visit My Green World here: http://www.mygreenworld.org/
Follow MGW on facebook at /mygreenworldau or Twitter/Instagram at @mygreenworldau