Power to the collective voice

Interview with Natalie Isaacs, founder of 1 Million Women, the Australian-based movement of women and girls who are taking on climate change through practical action in their daily lives.

What action are you taking (personally and professionally) against climate change?

Not so long ago I was totally disengaged from the climate change crisis, about as far away from a green role-model as you can imagine. I used to think if there was a problem, then it was up to someone else, governments and big business, to fix it. What difference could an individual make anyway? Then I had an epiphany and I saw that climate change and the need for action was all about me, my family and friends, and that we had a shared responsibility to act. Especially those of us living privileged lives by world standards in countries like Australia. 1 Million Women is all about reaching out to women who are, like I was, disengaged or disempowered or both, and inspiring them to act in their own lives and to raise their powerful collective voice.

Where and how do you see women taking the lead in tackling climate change?

Once I got engaged in climate action, I saw that this was an area where women could make a difference. Women make most of the household purchasing decisions that affect household environmental footprint. Social research shows that on average, women care more than men about the planet and future generations. Yet women are under-represented at the top of government and business where the big decisions get made. 1 Million Women is about women leading by example, using our economic power and our citizen power, and compelling everyone else to act as well.

How do you motivate your peers in the face of such a daunting challenge?

Above all else, I go out and tell my story and urge others to get aware and get active like I've done. If a veteran of the incredibly wasteful, over-packaged cosmetics industry like me can change, everyone can change.

What role do you think protected areas can play in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and what do you hope the IUCN World Parks Congress achieves in this respect?

A cause that motivates me above all else is the fate of the Great Barrier Reef, the world's greatest marine park and one of the most important protected areas anywhere. Climate change is now the biggest threat of all to the Reef. If we can't protect a natural treasure listed as World Heritage for its Outstanding Universal Value, then what can we save? I hope that the World Parks Congress helps make sure the Australian Government acts decisively to save the Reef.