“I hope to see a better world for every living organism.”
The importance of leaders within the sustainability sector cannot be overstated. Sustainability leaders have the skills and courage to challenge industries and business as usual, while acting as the voice for the people.
The Sustainability Leader of the Year Award hosted by the Earth Mother Community non-profit organisation aims to recognise the work of leaders fighting climate change and making the world a better place for all.
Winner of this year’s award, Godfrey Mchunguzi Oyema, works as Assistant Environmental Officer with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and shares his thoughts on what keeps him going.
His career background has extensively been in wildlife conservation, human ecology, and sustainability, which lead him to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Kasulu, Tanzania.
Additionally, Godfrey uses his social media networks to spread awareness of the environmental issues we currently face and encourage people to take action.
His passion for advocating for sustainability issues was ignited during his school years.
“It’s been quite a journey; I’ve worked with many different organisations in environmental conservation, biodiversity, and wildlife protection,” Godfrey says.
He shares that his personal motivation for his work is to “see a better world for every living organism.”
Godfrey further explains:
“When I say every living organism, I speak about people, plants, and animals.
Without a better, balanced world regarding the environment, economy, and society, our lives, businesses, communities, and societies cannot be what they are.
So putting these three components together really motivates me to ensure they stay in balance for all living organisms on this planet.”
He kickstarted his sustainability career in 2010, working with the Tanzania Commission for Science & Technology as their Associate Country Programme Coordinator. In this role, Godfrey established the Tanzania Biodiversity Information Facility (TanBIF) Portal and co-published the first-ever National Biota Checklist, which included more than 13,000 biological species.
Following his work here, Godfrey went on to work as the Senior Biodiversity Officer at a consultancy company, where he continued to shine as an expert in biodiversity and environmental management.
His impressive career continued as he began working as the Environmental Compliance & Forestry Manager for Unilever in 2015. Here he was responsible for implementing their Sustainable Living Plan, which linked environmental objectives to business operations.
While working with Unilever, Godfrey achieved the Rainforest Alliance Certificate for three consecutive years and created numerous plans to prevent biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems.
Also, he worked on the development and implementation of their Environmental and Social Strategies.
Later, he worked as a Freelance Consultant, providing professional advice and expertise on sustainability issues using his diverse experience.
Now, he serves as the Assistant Environmental Officer at UNHCR. His work with this refugee agency has centred around offering advice on alternative sustainable cooking energy programmes, ensuring they are sustainable and compliant.
Godfrey shares what keeps him going:
“The issue of sustainability needs to start from home, and this needs to rise from the fact that environmental resources are vital to us. We need to protect, conserve, and sustainably use these limited natural resources.
My value has always been to be a custodian and take the responsibility of managing our limited natural resources and taking this knowledge to the general public, family, friends, and colleagues.”
He strongly believes we all must do this to ensure a balanced world for all living organisms. Godfrey is also harnessing the power of social media to drive change:
“I speak to groups, people one-on-one, and communities to discuss our current problems. Social media has provided us with a great platform to do this!”
About winning the Sustainability Leader of the Year award, he shares:
“For me, winning this award means so much. This is my first-ever sustainability award with global recognition. The award only motivates me to do more work in this area and continue inspiring others to do right by the environment.
It means so much in terms of my career and is a huge personal milestone for me.”
Organisers of this award believe that we need more courageous sustainability leaders taking risks and leading the way, but we also need to support them on their journey.