Driving change

11 September 2013 | Article

Juliane Zeidler’s hectic working life is fuelled by the positive impact a healthy environment can have on people.

She has worked in the fields of environment and development for more than 20 years and is well known both in Namibia and internationally for her expertise in biodiversity research, climate change adaptation work, especially at the community level, and natural resource management.


On the road with daughter Zafari

As co-founder of Integrated Environmental Consultants of Namibia (IECN) and Namibia-based Natuye – Institute for the Environment Trust, Juliane’s scope is wide. Her projects range from working with rural communities in southern Africa on sustainable natural resource management to implementing national policies and negotiating international environmental agreements.

In her ‘spare’ time Juliane serves as Chair of IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication, a voluntary role that involves coordinating the efforts of an international network of professionals driving change towards sustainability. A key focus is on capacity building — strengthening the ability of individuals, organizations and societies to make effective use of their resources to achieve their own goals.

Juliane firmly believes that progress in environmental and developmental work can only be achieved by overcoming capacity bottlenecks at the implementation level. That’s why, during the past decade, she has focused on promoting communication, change management and learning. She also believes that conservation and developmental challenges need to be addressed in ways that lead to lasting change on the ground.

With IECN Juliane helps prepare and implement a range of projects relating to climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management. Over the past years she has worked on assignments in many countries in Africa including Angola, Cape Verde, Comoros, Benin, Eritrea, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Rwanda, to name just a few.


Juliane works closely with young people on natural resource management. Photo by: Holder Kroener

 Her motivation to work in the environmental field came at an early age. 

“If you had asked me as a 10 year-old what I wanted to do when I am ‘big’ – I would have answered ‘conserve the Amazon’. As life had it in for me, I drove through Africa with my sister after high school in an old Land Cruiser and my motivation to work in development and environment grew further.” 

And Juliane’s motivation remains constant:

“I am inspired daily by the diversity of livelihoods around the world, especially in Africa, where I travel for work continuously – and the visible positive impacts a healthy environment has on people.”

A priority for Juliane is to develop young people’s ability to become seasoned conservationists. “It’s important to find the time and refreshed motivation to put young people first; not my deadlines!”

Some of Juliane’s projects combine her ‘day job’ with her CEC work as she describes here:

“Namibia benefited from a two-year long support programme on climate change adaptation – the Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP).
 
I was involved in helping four countries in developing their AAP proposals across Africa, but in Namibia my company was involved in the hands-on implementation of various capacity development ‘packages’. We co-tendered with two experts from the CEC network – and together we shaped an innovative capacity-building and communication outreach strategy for a very diverse set of target groups.
 
With local communities we developed ‘Adaptation Community Information and Planning Toolkits’, and with technical representatives from all line Ministries in Namibia we engaged in the ‘Climate Change Ambassador’ programme. For high-level decision makers and the business community succinct briefing materials and training events were conducted. This was really exciting and high impact work and was inspired by my association with the CEC." 

One of Juliane’s greatest challenges is managing her time so that she can act on all the opportunities she encounters to make a difference. This means working her travel schedule around being mum to a three year-old girl.


“It’s fitting that her name is Zafari — she accompanies me much of the time and is a great travel companion.”
 


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