ORGANIZATION EARTH founder Constantinos Machairas celebrates winning the #NatureForAll Greenhouse after presenting his work to a judging panel including members from The Canadian Parks Council, Google Earth Outreach, Habitat the Game, Conservamos Por Naturaleza, Citizen Wolf, and Pew Charitable Trusts. The presentation was alongside two other finalists, Litterati and Acroterra, at the launch of the #NatureForAll movement during the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress.

Earlier this year, the #NatureForAll Greenhouse accepted applications from innovative and successful projects that connect people to nature, but could use an extra boost to accelerate them to the next level. Three finalists were chosen and pitched their work at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress. Greece’s Constantinos Machairas from Organization Earth was awarded a Grand Prize by a panel of experts. 

Led by CoalitionWILD, the #NatureForAll Greenhouse launched at the beginning of May 2016 as a part of the #NatureForAll initiative. The organizers wanted to know how people from around the world are connecting themselves and others to nature. In less than 6 weeks,107 project overviews were received from 42 countries, with scopes ranging from local to global, technological to experiential, and at various stages of development.

The #NatureForAll Greenhouse shows that, if given a platform and the right opportunity, small projects that connect people to nature can be accelerated to have big impacts. CoalitionWILD Director Crista Valentino was an early supporter of the movement. “Inspiring people to experience and connect with nature is a key priority for CoalitionWILD, and we’re inspired by the meaningful projects the Greenhouse supports.”

A 20-person panel narrowed the field down to three finalists: AcroTerra, Litterati, and Organization Earth. These three finalists were flown to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii and presented their work in front of a panel of expert judges and a crowd of hundreds. 

Overall winner, Organization Earth, focused on their ‘Center of the Earth’ project, a farm in the heart of Athens, Greece that offers hands on environmental learning to Athenians of all ages. Project leader Constantinos Machairas believes that “this kind of experience in nature within an urban setting will change the way we do business, treat the planet, and treat ourselves.” 

AcroTerra (Mexico) focuses on a community based approach to reconnect people with themselves and nature through acro yoga, and incorporates nature based dialogues and traditional wisdom. Litterati (USA) is a global community that crowdsources cleaning the planet one piece of litter at a time by using technology to collect and map data. Over a quarter of a million pieces of litter have been picked up in 100+ countries. 

The three #NatureForAll Greenhouse Finalists await results. 

The three #NatureForAll Greenhouse Finalists await results. 

“All three finalists, and many of the other project submissions, show great potential in helping connect our planet towards a better, more sustainable future,” says Karin Tuxen-Bettman from Google Earth Outreach. “Introducing this accelerator model to the conservation sector is bringing new innovative ideas and perspectives into an important field.”

#NatureForAll is IUCN’s new global movement founded on a simple idea: the more people experience, connect with, and share their love for nature, the more support there will be for its conservation in the future. The IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) and World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) conceived and implemented the movement. More than 110 partners have already agreed to join forces to share best practices and tools to connect people to nature, including CoalitionWILD - a network of inspiring young people who are designing and implementing changes that benefit nature and people.