Nadya Hutagalung – from entertainment to environmental

Nadya Hutagalung tell her experience during book launch of “Walk With Me” in Pacific Place, Sudirman, South Jakarta (7/12). (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO – Nadya Yuti Hutagalung is an inspiring and dedicated campaigner for many noble causes. Best known as an Indonesian-Australian model, actress, television presenter and mother, she’s also a renowned conservationist. The book “Walk with Me” is the story of her life and 30-year career.

“I realize that everyone is living their own journey, each with his or her own story to tell. No one’s story is more important than anyone else’s. Instead, I believe that we can learn from other people’s experiences and from empathizing with them, even if it is a world away from our own lives and backgrounds,” explained Nadya during the launch of “Walk with Me” in Pacific Place, Sudirman, South Jakarta (7/12)

Her passion in advocating for the survival of great apes, especially the Sumatran orangutans, drew her to the attention of UN Environment nearly a decade ago. She joined the UN Environment’s Great Apes Survival Partnership, and in 2015 addressed the UN General Assembly, to mark World Wildlife Day in New York. She is also the face of UN Environment’s #WildForLife campaign, championing the critically endangered orangutan and supporting 15 other species in the campaign.

Her recent work on the UN’s campaign to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife, along with other 15 celebrity advocates, has propelled Wild for Life to become UN Environment’s most successful, and award-wining, digital campaign to date. More importantly, many of the species in the campaign have received greater protection from the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species; bans on illegal products, including ivory and rhino horn, are being upheld and expanded.

In her capacity as a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, Nadya joined me and her fellow Goodwill Ambassador, Adrian Grenier, in launching the global #CleanSeas campaign in Bali to eliminate major sources of marine litter by encouraging governments to pass single-use plastic reduction legislation. This campaign has been an astounding success, one that has inspired major commitments from governments and businesses around the world. Her call to action on World Environment Day 2018, for cosmetics companies to end their use of plastic microbeads, prompted a response from Loreal that 100% of their new products are plastic-free.

Also in 2018, Nadya focused her work on the Sumatran Elephant, its habitat and communities, pulling together the Sumatran Elephant Roundtable and working with Elephant experts from around the world and local Indonesian NGOs to help bolster the Forum Gajah Indonesia Strategic Action Plan. “The role of the elephant is very important. Unconsciously, the elephant is an ambassador of the forest. They guard our forests, which are also the lungs of the world” she explained

Beyond the UN, Nadya’s other environmental achievements include the establishment with Dr. Tammy Matson of Let Elephants Be Elephants – an ivory-reduction campaign targeted at a Southeast Asian audience. She made a documentary about wildlife poaching and the ivory trade that premiered on the National Geographic channel across Asia in 2014. The duo then toured Asia to give talks and arrange screenings of the documentary to boost awareness of the illegal trade and slaughter.

In 2017, she represented UN Environment at the Convention on Migratory Species in Manila. She was a featured speaker in The Nature of Crime: The Extent and Impact of Illegal Wildlife Crime sessions of the World Leaders Dialogue during the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Parks Congress in Sydney in 2015.

“I am immensely proud to be a United Nations Environment Programme Ambassador, and our relationship has given me a wealth of opportunities to lend my voice to some of the most pressing issues facing the world today,” said Nadya.

Nadya’s nomination by the International Green Awards as “Most Responsible Celebrity” alongside George Clooney, Robert Redford and Penelope Cruz (in 2012) shows her true dedication

Her lifelong pursuit has been to strike the perfect balance between beauty, strength, and sustainability. This book provides comprehensive yet subtle narratives, through Nadya’s eyes, about living in the limelight and being a conservationist.

Human greed and ignorance pose a grave threat to the future of our planet, and it is champions like Nadya who can play a vital role in reaching out to ordinary people and changing mindsets. Readers can be inspired and learn from her experiences. (Raihan Ismail)