We Are All Responsible: How A Young Filmmaker Seeks To Encourage Environmental Protection
By Abbie Barnes
It is easy to feel completely overwhelmed when it comes to conservation and “saving the planet.” There are a myriad of issues, from marine debris to palm oil production, the illegal pet trade, logging, and desertification. It can be tempting to brush the unseen aside and forget about it; to allow someone else, more experienced and with a greater understanding, to tackle it. But this practice is wrong. Every single person on this planet has a role to play when it comes to protecting the natural world. We are all responsible.
There are countless ways that we can each make a difference. Personally, I began using film in 2012 to highlight environmental messages after my short film about the devastating effects of palm oil production won a place in a national competition. This opened up the opportunity for me to speak to Members of the European Parliament about the importance of labelling the ingredient.
My work has since gained national and international recognition. Previous commendations include: a Field Studies Council scholarship, second place in the Action For Nature 2013 International Young Eco-Hero Awards, and special recognition by Sir David Attenborough after my film “Save Our Oceans” won the EcoTales Film Festival 2013. I have produced promotional films for companies across the country, local shows and events, the Jurassic Coast UNESCO team, and other organizations, whilst having facilitated the establishment of key international campaigns, such as World Orangutan Day. My articles have been published in major filmmaking/conservation books, I was a delegate at the Wildscreen Film Festival 2014, and I was also elected as an Associate member of the Linnean Society of London.
One of my biggest projects to date was summiting Mount Kilimanjaro whilst producing “Climb for Climate Action” – a full-length feature documentary that discussed the effects of global climate change on mountain glaciers, endemic wildlife species, local people, and the tourism industry. The film was recently screened at the Paris Climate Meetings in 2015 (COP21).
Throughout every aspect of my work, be it film, radio, photography or public speaking, I seek to educate – offering up-to-date facts and figures – whilst providing positive practical solutions for the issue in focus. I aim to inspire my audience to engage with the natural environment around them, in the hope that it will enhance their appreciation of their natural surroundings, and thus their desire to protect it for generations to come.
I hold the genuine belief that every action counts. The decisions that we make today about how we live, will and do influence people across the planet, and of course, future generations. It is crucial that we consider our impact habitually so that we can make amendments where necessary. The key thing is that we need to act now in order to halt the increasingly obvious obliteration of the natural world around us.
Making a positive difference on the planet does not have to be an inconvenient, time-consuming task. There are many minor changes that we can all make that accumulate over time, such as walking rather than driving to the local shops, recycling plastic bottles and tins, reducing food waste by planning your meals ahead and shopping only for what you need, being aware of additional waste packaging, avoiding unsustainable palm oil, buying local and organic products, turning off lights when not in use… the list is endless.
Whatever you do, however you do it, you can bring about change for the better.
About the Author:
Abbie Barnes is a 19-year-old semi-professional filmmaker, presenter and photographer, who specialises in promotional shorts, wildlife conservation, and expedition/adventure productions.
At its last meeting members of the Inter-agency Network on Youth Development elected UN WOMEN as its rotating co-chair for 2016-2017. UN WOMEN will take over the role from UNDP (2015-2016) at the next Annual Meeting of the Network to be held at the end of March. UN DESA remains permanent co-chair. To learn more about the Network and its members, click here.
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