Keeping the world alive with Iracambi’s Binka LeBreton

A mid-life crisis.

The Atlantic rainforest.

And discovering what sustainability means and looks like.

Today I talk with Binka, co-founder of Iracambi, a Brazilian organisation working to make the conservation of the Atlantic Rainforest more attractive than its destruction.

We talk about what it looks like to save forests and change lives.

We hear about the challenges of the last few years.

But also, how TIE helped to propel Iracambi into huge growth in 2021.

We talk about what’s next with TIE and Iracambi, and we get the inside scoop on Binka’s time at the summit of the Americas, where heads of state and global leaders talked about building a more sustainable future.

Binka also let’s us in on what gives her hope. But also what keeps her up at night.

Lots here.

So throw on those running shoes, or grab that favourite beverage, and here is Binka.

And please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

00:00:02:05 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving lights around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:01:09:03
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed. Hello and welcome to episode 54 of TIE Unearthed. Today I’m speaking with the extraordinary Binka LeBreton, co-founder and director of the Air can be Research Center in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, where she and her colleagues work to find solutions to the challenges of biodiversity, conservation and sustainability. She’s also a writer and educator who specializes in the environment and human rights, and she spends several months each year on the international lecture circuit where she’s an experienced speaker and broadcaster.

00:01:09:20 – 00:01:37:18
Philippa White
Now, this is our second podcast. We’ve worked with Air can be since 2009, and we’ve had a number of projects with them since then supporting their really important work of making the conservation of the Atlantic forest more attractive than its destruction. Now the last time we worked with them was last year for Tie Accelerator and we’ll be working with them again, starting this month for our Team TIE Leadership Development Program with the London ad agency BBH.

00:01:37:18 – 00:01:56:24
Philippa White
And this is news. We didn’t know this when we recorded, so it’s super exciting. But what we’re going to be covering of today is talking about the impact of our last project with them, developments since we last spoke and work together, which was over a year ago and what they hope to get out of this next program. So there’s lots to to get stuck into.

00:01:57:00 – 00:02:01:06
Philippa White
So throw on those running shoes or grab the favorite beverage. And here’s Binka.

00:02:02:16 – 00:02:06:06
Philippa White
Hello, Binka. It’s so nice to have you with us again. How are you?

00:02:06:11 – 00:02:14:07
Binka LeBreton
Hello, Phillip. It’s great to see you. And greetings, everybody from Mary can be in the rainforest. It’s great to be with you all and especially with you again.

00:02:14:08 – 00:02:37:10
Philippa White
So it’s always a pleasure. And I have known each other for a very, very long time. It’s amazing. And we sort of keep kind of pumping up and having these catch ups. And I have to say, I always feel like I’m buzzing after talking to you, so I can’t tell you how excited I am to be bringing air can be to life again and just checking in again to sort of see how things have evolved over the last year.

00:02:37:13 – 00:02:49:07
Philippa White
Now for our listeners who don’t know about air can be perhaps you can just tell everyone a little bit about you and Robin, an air can be and just how the organization came about because it’s such an inspirational story.

00:02:50:15 – 00:03:16:14
Binka LeBreton
Thank you, PHILIPPa. Well, guys, I don’t know if you were all familiar with the concept of a mid-life crisis. I suspect you are right. Other people call it a gap year or, you know, you can have them regularly and I actually highly recommend them. So this goes back in a way, back 30 years ago in Washington, DC, my husband Robin was working as a World Bank economist, and we were traveling all over the world that, you know, doing good stuff.

00:03:17:00 – 00:03:35:18
Binka LeBreton
I in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not a scientist, but I was actually a concert pianist at the time, which shows that you can, you know, do all kinds of different careers and all kinds of different things in your life. And one day I was playing the piano. I was playing something really complicated. And I was I was kind of concentrating on it.

00:03:35:18 – 00:04:01:02
Binka LeBreton
And Robyn came up behind me and muttered something and I said, Yes, yes, I have one word. Please go away. I’ve got to kind of get my fingers round this piece. And afterwards, I discovered that what he’s actually said was, how about we just head off and see if sustainability is really great? Or How about we leave this golden life in the World Bank moving around to different countries and continents and raising our kids in different parts of the world.

00:04:01:20 – 00:04:19:08
Binka LeBreton
Our kids are now in college and, you know, so the worst is over financially. And how about we go off and see if sustainability really works? Well, I had sort of said yes because I wanted to get him off my back. Right. And then I thought about and I thought, he’s a really nice guy and, you know, why not?

00:04:20:04 – 00:04:47:04
Binka LeBreton
And I think I thought it would be another three year posting kind of thing. You know, we’d been in Nairobi and New Delhi and Jakarta and London and everywhere. The only really, really smart thing we did was we decided to take a life out between lives right? Because we were in this very kind of self-absorbed life at Washington, D.C., which thinks it’s the center of the world and, you know, having a blast, having a wonderful time.

00:04:47:19 – 00:05:05:21
Binka LeBreton
So we the sensible thing we did was we decided to get in the car and take a six month camping trip and drive from Washington, D.C., to Brazil, which is the place that we had chosen to see if the sustainability thing really works. If you wonder if you can actually drive from Washington, D.C. to Brazil, the answer is no.

00:05:05:21 – 00:05:29:00
Binka LeBreton
You cannot. There is not a route through Colombia. And we did sort of toy with the idea of, you know, hacking through the jungles of the Darién gap, but actually they were sort of guerrillas and narco trafficking days and this sort of thing. So we shipped our car. But long story short, we had lived in Brazil, we spoke Portuguese.

00:05:29:18 – 00:05:42:21
Binka LeBreton
We found a piece of land that was rainforest and mountains and nice people, and we decided to see if sustainability was really real and if we could set up a sustainable forest farm.

00:05:42:24 – 00:06:04:02
Philippa White
Wow, that is incredible. And I remember when I went there in 2008, well, you just have to understand, there was no electricity. I mean, I went there. There was electricity. But I could see I mean, it’s literally just hills and forest and they built a house and then you didn’t have any electricity and running water. I mean, you literally started from zero.

00:06:04:10 – 00:06:22:04
Binka LeBreton
I think if we had known, you know, if you knew what was going to happen when you take these crazy decisions, you probably never get out of bed in the morning night. But, you know, it was just sort of let’s let’s try the great adventure. And when we moved here, it was excellent night moving back almost a century in time.

00:06:22:17 – 00:06:52:12
Binka LeBreton
And then what we had not realized was that in Latin America and in Latin countries in general, the power is in the city. So if you are in a rural area, that’s your problem. So there was a general kind of lack of infrastructure. The roads were terrible. You know, the infrastructure in general was pretty weak. Any really good thing was that it was a wonderful place with wonderful people who were just raring to go and had been living under a military dictatorship for some time.

00:06:52:12 – 00:07:30:20
Binka LeBreton
It was, of course, had stopped, but those things cost a really long shadow. So it was interesting for us to be able to just observe what the local community was up to, try and, you know, identify things that needed to be done and then to work alongside them to get going. And one thing led to another. And eventually we decided to start a nonprofit because the forest, this magnificent Atlantic forest in which we live, was severely threatened by smallholder farmers just cutting the remaining patches of forest in order to make a living and be able to send their kids to school.

00:07:31:02 – 00:07:46:20
Binka LeBreton
So we decided we work with them. We’d set up a nonprofit, no idea how to do it. Absolutely no idea. Just kind of figured it out by the seat of our pants and set up an NGO that has been going since 2000. So here we are 22 years later and we’re still still going strong.

00:07:46:20 – 00:08:07:19
Philippa White
Still going strong. And actually, that is extraordinary because I was there in 2008, I’m sure. I don’t know why I have that in my head, but I’m almost certain that it was 2008, and so that was eight years after that. And I just remember when I was there, there was still kind of the Internet was I mean, it might still be like that, but, you know, the Internet remember it.

00:08:07:19 – 00:08:32:01
Philippa White
So we had to go on the hill, we could get it better or than I think there was like a generator that kind of got the electricity going. And I mean, it really was very rural. It is very rural, but it was just it was like going back in time. And that’s and I just remember sitting in your living room and eating beans and just it just it’s an extraordinary place and an extraordinary energy.

00:08:32:01 – 00:08:49:15
Philippa White
And it really is about fine. It’s about impact and action and just finding solutions and just making stuff happen. And okay, there is no, you know, no is not an option. So we just need to make it work. Exactly. Because perhaps you can just summarize what is air can be for our listeners.

00:08:50:10 – 00:09:10:15
Binka LeBreton
Well, it’s taken us a long time to kind of condense our mission statement, but we’ve now finally come up with what we can do and what we do best, and that’s saving forests and changing lives. So basically what that means is ecosystem restoration and working with the local community on education and empowerment.

00:09:10:23 – 00:09:34:23
Philippa White
And it’s amazing as well because you do involve so much the local community, which is such a big part obviously of what international development work is about. And you’ve really integrated into the local community in such a big way, which is so important. Now, we have worked with you five times since our first project in 2009, so obviously after my journey to Air Campaign 2008, obviously super inspired and say, okay, we need to make this happen.

00:09:34:23 – 00:10:04:17
Philippa White
And I think Tiffany was our first ever person to write to work with you. And as our listeners know, ABC Tie went virtual in 2021 and our relationship has evolved with our fifth time accelerator project. I think now the impact from that experience, if I’m not mistaken, was pretty big and perhaps you could tell our listeners about your experience with ties of this last one, which is Tie Accelerator, but also just some stories that stand out with regards to the impact because obviously there’s the stories of the last ways that we’ve worked.

00:10:04:17 – 00:10:29:14
Philippa White
But what’s so exciting is now that we did have to evolve and we’ve obviously created the virtual cohort program opportunity. And just for our listeners, we do still have immersive tie. Now that the pandemic is slowing down, things are opening up and people can travel again. So we do have that as an option, but it is really exciting the virtual option because it does mean that cohorts can come together, you can have teams come together, you can have people from around your company work together to crack a challenge.

00:10:29:14 – 00:10:48:09
Philippa White
And so we had six people from around the world actually work together to crack a challenge for Eric Camby. And perhaps you can help our listeners understand what that challenge was, how that experience was, and then what came out of that, because I think that’s what ties all about. It’s not just about the experience. Yes, that’s part of it, but it’s about the impact.

00:10:48:09 – 00:10:58:00
Philippa White
It’s about genuinely making a difference. And I feel excited because I think there was an outcome from that experience was. Yes. So perhaps you could explain that.

00:10:58:02 – 00:11:21:02
Binka LeBreton
Okay. Well, first of all, very, very briefly, if the previous four tie programs we had, we had individuals in wonderful people who journeyed from their offices in New York or London or wherever, and to the middle of the rainforest, and had to cope with life on the frontline where the Internet goes down and it rains all day and you can’t get your clothes dry and all this kind of thing, which is one side of living in the rainforest.

00:11:21:02 – 00:11:39:15
Binka LeBreton
The other side, of course, is absolutely magnificent. And when you feel that you can’t take another minute to just go out and look at the trees and take a deep breath and you understand why you’re there, I don’t want to put anybody off. When COVID hit us, as it hit everybody else, we had to kind of stop. You know, we hit a brick wall, basically like everybody, and then had to try and figure it out.

00:11:39:15 – 00:12:05:15
Binka LeBreton
You know, what do we do? Do we close our doors? You know, how do we pivot? What do we do? And for all of us, it was a huge learning experience since I come. It was actually a magnificent experience that propelled us, you know, into huge growth. And this was very largely due to our TY Accelerator program. What we wanted to do was since we decided that closing the doors was not an option, we decided that we’re going to have to pivot and we’re going to have to grow.

00:12:05:15 – 00:12:26:14
Binka LeBreton
Right. So the brief to the TY accelerator team was help us get from, you know, from good. We know what we’re doing. We’ve been here 20 something years. We planted a lot of trees, educated, lots of kids, hosted lots of international volunteer and students, people of all ages. And there’s something like 70 countries. But now we need to get to great, we got to grow.

00:12:26:14 – 00:12:49:09
Binka LeBreton
We can’t just be content with planting a few thousand trees. We’ve got to up our game considerably. So that was the brief for these this wonderful group from Australia, Philippines and Europe, and none of whom had ever been here. And over the course of six weeks, their brief was to help us figure out a new way of sustainable financing for the NGO and to focus on working with corporates.

00:12:49:10 – 00:13:15:00
Binka LeBreton
Right. So we wanted to know what we had to offer, how to speak corporate speak, how to create a fascinating brochure that would be delivered to the chief financial officer of the corporation that would immediately grab his attention with the correct mixture of storytelling and facts and, you know, expecting outcomes and impact. And over six weeks, we created this brochure and this corporate brochure.

00:13:15:00 – 00:13:36:01
Binka LeBreton
And then after the end of that tie program, we kept fiddling with it in I’m a writer, and so I tend to kind of fiddle with things and that you notice that they never quite perfect, right? But we worked on this and it just gave us a whole new kind of world view about how we could work with other unexpected partners.

00:13:36:01 – 00:14:01:23
Binka LeBreton
Right. Approximately six months after the end of the of the TIE accelerator program, where we had this beautiful brochure that was being, you know, constantly sort of tweaked and improved. And we were looking at complex financing models like carbon financing, trying to figure out how many trees, how many dollars, how many tonnes of carbon, how long it would take on a clear blue day out of the clear blue sky.

00:14:01:23 – 00:14:21:03
Binka LeBreton
We get this call on the phone. Now, let me just explain that rainforest telephones don’t work. They do not work. So if we get a call, it is a miracle. And we got a call from a firm in Silicon Valley saying we’re really interested in supporting you and do you have something you can send us? And I said, Oh, sure.

00:14:21:05 – 00:15:00:06
Binka LeBreton
So sat up all night, finally tweeting those wretched figures about carbon credits and dollars and times and so on, and sent it to them. And the outcome was that we got an enormous for us donation from this company and we’re now in our second year of working with them. They are still supporting us. Why not? Led us to a whole new understanding of of how to work with people that we hadn’t worked with before and helped us to understand that we need to really not only up our game but shore up our bases so that we get more professional, not only what we do, we know what we do, we know how to do it,

00:15:00:13 – 00:15:23:04
Binka LeBreton
but we need help from business partners to help us improve our business plans or our public relations and so on. So the impact on that, PHILIPPa, was absolutely immense. And I just want to tell you quickly, guys, that just before COVID things were already difficult for us and we had been planting something like between five and 8000 trees a year.

00:15:23:07 – 00:15:43:17
Binka LeBreton
Through this accelerator program, we put up we put out a great, big, exciting vision, and that was to plant a million trees. Now, you don’t go from 5000 trees to militaries overnight. Right. But we figured out how to increase our team, increase our budget. And what we discovered is when you have a big dream, people are interested and they support you.

00:15:43:20 – 00:15:48:24
Philippa White
It’s amazing. And how close are you to that? Like, what is the sort of the timeline for time.

00:15:49:07 – 00:15:59:13
Binka LeBreton
Is 2030 over 2020 122 replanted 55,000 trees. So we’re going to have to scramble to get to the million, but we’re on our way to the promise.

00:15:59:13 – 00:16:18:03
Philippa White
Yeah. You know what? What you’ve said about when you have a vision and when you have that goal and you start talking about it. So interesting. I was talking to a coach because TIE is also other similar journey to be in the sense that COVID was hard and wasn’t a rethinking and regrowing and you know, what we do works and it’s proven.

00:16:18:03 – 00:16:39:11
Philippa White
And so we’ve got some incredible, incredible mentors supporting us. You know, one of the things they said was what you know, what is success in ten years time? What is that goal? When you say it, the conversations change. And when you start to kind of, you know, when you have that vision. And it’s funny because I hadn’t articulated what that goal was in ten years time.

00:16:39:11 – 00:16:55:23
Philippa White
I was sort of looking at kind of the shorter goal when you articulate that and you’ve proven yourself over the years and suddenly people do say, I want to be a part of this. And it’s just so it’s so exciting. So we are thrilled. I mean, I’m so happy that we were able to help you get to that.

00:16:55:23 – 00:17:21:18
Philippa White
And, you know, now that more and more companies and people are are realizing just how amazing and inspirational and impactful here can be, is how wonderful. Now we are going to be working with you again this year. That’s our plan. Perhaps you could help people understand what’s next. So, you know, that’s what I also love about TIE is people often question okay, well, there’s, you know, there’s only so much we can do in six weeks, you know, six weeks in such a short amount of time.

00:17:22:02 – 00:17:36:13
Philippa White
And what we often say is, well, yeah, I mean, that’s actually kind of the point of the program in the sense that, you know, constraints are a wonderful way to be able to unleash potential and and show you what is possible in such a short amount of time. But of course, you can’t change the world in six weeks.

00:17:36:19 – 00:18:03:20
Philippa White
But what’s beautiful is we are that continuity with the organization. So it’s a really intense project that happens. You create something tangible and amazing for an organization and then we are that continuity to then say, okay, once that organization is ready to do it again, we’ve built that up, we’re ready to go again. And it’s sort of this accelerated experience so that it’s like, okay, all systems go, and then it’s kind of okay, let’s just live with this for a bit.

00:18:03:20 – 00:18:14:04
Philippa White
So we’ve done TIE Accelerator and that obviously happened March 20, 21. So we are hoping to do another project obviously this year. So perhaps you can help us just understand what next.

00:18:14:08 – 00:18:44:23
Binka LeBreton
What makes the other is, you know, how do you move? How do you expand your budget by a factor of three, you know, within a year or 18 months. And to do that, what do you need to do to really firm up the foundations of everything you do? How do you go from a, you know, a sort of small, little organization working your way in the backwoods to an organization that is really taking its place and becoming more and more visible, both nationally and internationally.

00:18:45:03 – 00:19:02:04
Binka LeBreton
And what does that look like? What does it look like? What do we need to do now? What do we need to do next year? I think one of the most interesting things that we’re working on at the moment is expanding our planning horizons. So we had normally been planning for a year to time, plan for three years and for five years.

00:19:02:04 – 00:19:22:21
Binka LeBreton
And how do we keep the balance between doing what we do well and making sure that we do it better and the time that is required to actually make these changes and make this improvement? So that’s where we are at the moment. We are looking to literally get to the next to the whole next level, but making sure that nothing gets left behind.

00:19:22:24 – 00:19:45:22
Philippa White
Okay. That’s interesting. Okay. So it’s a very it’s very strategic. So it’s a it’s a strategic try to build on where you are and what that structure looks like to get you scaled. That’s exciting. Yeah, that’s exciting. So you’ve been busy over the last couple of years and most recently you’ve been to the summit of the Americas. If I’m not mistaken, I actually don’t know what the Summit of the Americas is.

00:19:45:22 – 00:19:59:05
Philippa White
I probably should, but I don’t. And I’m sure that our listeners probably don’t either. So perhaps you can tell us about this and other updates just from the front lines of working in the area of Brazilian Atlantic rainforest conservation and what that looks like, oh.

00:19:59:10 – 00:20:20:13
Binka LeBreton
A like most unless we were all kind of we had to batten down the hatches and stay home basically for nearly two years during COVID. And when we were finally kind of released to go, we all set off with with kind of new determination and energy and so excited, excited to meet people in person. Again, this is wonderful, but I do feel my energy with people.

00:20:20:13 – 00:20:41:19
Binka LeBreton
So the Summit of the Americas is a meeting of all the states in the Americas, and it normally happens every every couple of years. But it hadn’t happened because of COVID. And so it was pulled together in Los Angeles and it took place a couple of weeks ago. And it was a phenomenal experience. And I think a part of that was that people were so excited to get out and get together.

00:20:41:19 – 00:21:05:14
Binka LeBreton
So it included all of the countries of the Americas, except three countries. There was a little controversy about this because us, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba were not invited because it was a meeting of the Democracies of the Americas. And so this was a kind of a delicate moment when you have a family party, you know, do you leave out the people that you don’t agree with?

00:21:05:14 – 00:21:28:16
Binka LeBreton
Anyway, that was the decision of the State Department. It was hosted by the State Department in Los Angeles. Every year it goes well. Every time it’s held, it goes to a different country. And so basically it was a meeting of heads of state, civil sides, civil society, youth and corporate leaders. So it was very exciting to have all these different aspects eating and interacting, right?

00:21:28:16 – 00:21:58:11
Binka LeBreton
So I think the main things that came out of it, which excited me because it’s easy to say, well, these are just talking shops, you know what is going to change? And I know from my own personal experience, when I previously was involved in a United Nations intervention, bringing a specific human rights case against a specific country to the United Nations, which resulted in significant changes, which I think many more than I would have hoped.

00:21:58:15 – 00:22:23:24
Binka LeBreton
So I knew that things can happen. And I think on this occasion everybody was so excited about the chance to get together and talk about issues that had been, of course, discussed previously before the final meeting. And the most important things that struck me was illegal deforestation. So this is very much I read how to defend environmental defenders as this was going on.

00:22:24:09 – 00:23:05:10
Binka LeBreton
Two people were murdered in the Amazon in the environmental defense space. So that was extremely topical. Talking about the fact that environmental defenders on the front line are up against mafia crime. So that defending the forests includes, you know, the arms trade, the people trafficking in trade, the drugs trade and an interesting outcome for me because I personally have been involved in this quite significantly and written books about it was a suggestion that one should be careful how much noise one makes about a specific issue, because by making a noise, one is also putting a target on one’s back.

00:23:05:13 – 00:23:24:01
Binka LeBreton
And to what extent should one collect that information and then pass it on to a trusted source who may be able to do more about it than, you know, people on the ground? So that was very interesting. There was a huge emphasis on the role of civil society so that all of us were on the ground. We know better than anybody what’s going on.

00:23:24:01 – 00:23:47:10
Binka LeBreton
We can react more quickly than governments and the roles of public sector, private sector and civil society and how we interact and how we can think of new ways to do that and make new partnerships and unexpected partnerships. We talked about gender equality. We talked about digital inclusion. So it was a very stimulating week of very interesting conversations.

00:23:47:10 – 00:24:11:22
Binka LeBreton
And I think the outcome for the Americas, this is good news for for the Americas is that by and large, we are the region with the greatest number of democracies. Many of them are under threat. But there are more functioning democracies in the Americas than in other regions of the world. We are the region with the youngest population and we have a window of opportunity of about 10 to 15 years.

00:24:12:06 – 00:24:37:00
Binka LeBreton
We have the technology, we have the training, we have a sort of spirit, you know, let’s do it in the Americas. We need investment and we need, you know, upskilling and particularly perhaps language training. And this was a call for corporations and civil society to get to come together. We can both react fast and we can both do things.

00:24:37:00 – 00:24:58:02
Binka LeBreton
What needs to be done in the Americas is investment and training. And I thought that was a very encouraging idea because generally speaking, in sort of geopolitics, the Americas and the Southern Americans tend to be overlaps. And this was, you know, a resounding affirmation that, you know, we have a lot going for us. We need to work together.

00:24:58:02 – 00:25:07:24
Binka LeBreton
We need to make these new partnerships. We need to attract these new investments. And that the Americas are a region that really has a huge potential. So that was very.

00:25:07:24 – 00:25:28:08
Philippa White
Yeah, that’s really encouraging, isn’t it. Yeah. And the fact that you are on the front lines of that, that also opens up so much opportunity for more support actually. And seeing that while you being there, doing what you’re doing is just so important. I think what would be really interesting, I asked you this question the last time and I’d be interested to know if you have a different answer.

00:25:28:08 – 00:25:52:19
Philippa White
But obviously, you know, the environment is on everybody’s mind. More. You’ve been living with this and understood. I mean, Robyn and you I mean, this is the area that you’ve been you’ve given your life to and you’ve been doing it for, what, 30 years? These climate change discussions and just the reality of what’s happening. I just wonder if there’s anything that you can tell our listeners that maybe they don’t know what keeps you up at night, but also hope.

00:25:52:22 – 00:26:24:03
Binka LeBreton
Well, this this was like rainforest week. We seem to have rainforest weeks or environmental weeks or forest weeks all the time. But this was big time rainforest week. And I was involved in some very, very interesting conferences that were also hosted by Zoom. God Bless Zoom. And the Internet enables us to do these things. And that was a particularly to me interesting keynote speech given by a very distinguished fellow of Cambridge University talking about the whole climate situation right now.

00:26:24:12 – 00:26:47:13
Binka LeBreton
And he just brought my attention to a couple of things I hadn’t really thought about before, which I think are very interesting I’d love to share with you. The first is the oceans a little bit close to you in my city, but a little bit far from us. In the rainforest, we are about 100 kilometers away. And the fact that the oceans are, you know, a tremendously important global good and completely unregulated, nobody pays for using the oceans.

00:26:47:18 – 00:27:13:02
Binka LeBreton
All our stuff is bought, you know, from A to B across the oceans. And you know, how we really need to be regulating the oceans, which I hadn’t thought of before. When he came to forests, he talked about the fact that there is forest regulation, the fact that the most important areas of biodiversity in the tropical zones where we are also the greatest areas of poverty and potential for, you know, social disruption.

00:27:13:02 – 00:27:42:17
Binka LeBreton
And while there is serious interest paid to the question of forest maintenance, most of the incentives go to governments rather than to the communities on the ground. So how can we make sure that, you know, that that this reality is changed? I think that he also talked about the carrying capacity of the well of the planet. We know that at the moment we need 1.6 planets in order to supply us with our voracious demands as a society.

00:27:42:17 – 00:28:08:10
Binka LeBreton
And we’re talking about the richer countries, of course, and that if if we halved our GDP, any OECD countries, which is currently $40,000 a head, we halve that to $20,000 a head to carrying capacity of the planet would improve to 1.2. We’d still be exceeding the carrying capacity, but these are all things that are very interesting to be able to get a kind of global viewpoint on all of these.

00:28:08:10 – 00:28:28:00
Binka LeBreton
I think the things that give me hope really are the gratitude bags and the young people all over the world who are determined to cut the tackle and get on and do stuff. And that is the other thing that we do in our country that we find so important. One, we’re doing the actual on the ground ecosystem restoration.

00:28:28:05 – 00:28:42:06
Binka LeBreton
But the other thing is working with local youth, all with international youth, because we need to involve everybody in this exciting project, which is like keeping the world alive for our children and our grandchildren.

00:28:42:06 – 00:29:03:00
Philippa White
And I agree. I feel that too. You know, Ty is all about helping to arm people with the potential that they have to also be drivers of change. We don’t need to wait for someone else or it’s not about the other person. It’s sort of we all have that potential and we it’s just a matter of doing it, seeing it, realizing it, bringing other people along for the journey.

00:29:03:00 – 00:29:07:19
Philippa White
You know, it’s impossible to do it on your own and just doing it. And I think the time has come for that.

00:29:07:19 – 00:29:32:18
Binka LeBreton
But I think the digital inclusion piece, which I hadn’t focused on so much before, there’s talent everywhere. It’s not just in the big cities, there’s talent everywhere. And we we relatively recently had a contact from a student who had been through our kids education program 15 years ago, well educated from Harvard. She is working, you know, at a large investment office in New York.

00:29:32:18 – 00:29:55:17
Binka LeBreton
And when I visited her, her father’s house, which is a very simple sort of farmhouse, very bad, not very much there on the wall was a little frame certificate to say that this girl had been a part of our education program and her father was said, Gee, Sam, she’s living in America now. I you know. And I said, yes.

00:29:55:17 – 00:30:12:18
Binka LeBreton
And he said, Is it true they speak another language there? Yes, it’s true. So to think of that girl, you know, coming from that background and and to see how far she’s come, I think I think that’s encouraging. The idea is that there’s talent everywhere.

00:30:12:18 – 00:30:37:05
Philippa White
And that’s also why it is so important. Again, your work with the communities, because I think sometimes people feel, oh, it’s sort of even with tie, you know, the North coming to save the south and it’s not that it’s it’s actually it always has been a very equal playing field and actually there’s a lot that the North doesn’t know and the South does and there’s, you know, knowledge that can be shared.

00:30:37:05 – 00:30:55:08
Philippa White
And it’s about the win win. And if you if you treat it like that and you sort of ask the questions, listen to the answers, work together, empower, and then bring each other up, then that’s where change happens. And and obviously your involvement with the local communities and getting getting people involved with the air can be it’s it’s education.

00:30:55:08 – 00:31:02:15
Philippa White
It comes down to education and opportunity and empowerment. And I think once you you unlock that potential. Yes, anything is possible.

00:31:02:19 – 00:31:03:14
Binka LeBreton
Absolutely.

00:31:03:21 – 00:31:15:14
Philippa White
So we are wrapping up and we’re coming to the end of the podcast. But I’m just wondering, what are you working on at the moment that you think our listeners would find interesting? Or is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

00:31:15:18 – 00:31:36:21
Binka LeBreton
We are looking at the huge amount of potential that’s out there. We are looking at things we’ve never really stopped to think about before, like artificial intelligence. Yes. You know, I spend a lot of time translating, you know, endless documents and, you know, it takes time. And Google Translate, for example, didn’t used to be very good, but it’s now much better.

00:31:36:21 – 00:32:09:24
Binka LeBreton
And I suddenly had this blinding revelation that if I put, you know, 25 page documents through Google Translate and look at it, it will take me 15 minutes just to tweak it and it will save me hours and hours of work. So what we’re looking at at the moment is creating we have a model of forest restoration, ecosystem restoration on the one hand, and we’re getting much better at figuring out how to do it, how much it costs different ways of of including, you know, the community in what we’re working on now is in parallel a way of monitoring that.

00:32:10:08 – 00:32:25:21
Binka LeBreton
So we need to be able to tell the stories and give the stats and show our donors and our supporters what we’re doing and how we can make it work. And we also need it for our own benefit. We need to know how we can do things better, and it’s only by collecting all that material that we can do that.

00:32:25:21 – 00:33:01:08
Binka LeBreton
So we’re working on a forest monitoring program that works not only with satellite imagery and GIs. Lider In the future, when that when that becomes a little more accessible, it’s still very expensive in Brazil, boots on the ground soundscape so we can hear what’s going on in the forest. Motion sent to their cameras and what we want to do is be able to make a package so that here’s how you can monitor and report on those for other people, but also for yourself on how your ecosystem restoration program is actually working.

00:33:01:15 – 00:33:22:18
Binka LeBreton
So do it on the one hand and then show it on the other hand. Show and tell, I guess. And working, beginning to work with companies that offer example, able to analyze the data that we collect in a heartbeat using artificial intelligence. So it’s a whole new world that is accessible to us and we had to navigate our way around it.

00:33:22:18 – 00:33:23:05
Binka LeBreton
Yeah.

00:33:23:10 – 00:33:40:21
Philippa White
Gosh. And you know, again, back to my 2008 experi, it’s what I was with you and I remember in GIs that I felt that was sort of quite new at the time because I remember Robyn talking about, gee, you know, it’s amazing. We can map like we sort of we map the through. I don’t even know what it was.

00:33:40:21 – 00:33:54:00
Philippa White
Drones, I mean, I have no idea was that happening at that time. I can’t even remember. But anyway, we had drones and we didn’t have drones then, did we? So I don’t even know how you did that. But I, you know, Robyn would sit with me and he’s so kind and he of explaining it’s totally over my head.

00:33:54:00 – 00:34:23:14
Philippa White
It’s like, I know. But, you know, it’s amazing. You guys sort of feel like you’re at the frontlines of so much change and and technology and ways to impact the world. I think you did it again. I’m buzzing. I adore our conversations. I can’t thank you enough for your time and just your work, which is so important. And I just feel so honored to have had Mark waiting, put us in touch so I can be a part of this journey and to provide that to other people as well.

00:34:23:17 – 00:34:24:19
Philippa White
You, you, you’re doing.

00:34:25:07 – 00:34:38:19
Binka LeBreton
Really, really important. And we just want to thank you for your help and encouragement and seeing that little glimpse of potential that perhaps we didn’t see ourselves and helping us to pull it all together. So thank you both. Thank you. Time.

00:34:39:05 – 00:34:44:04
Philippa White
Yay. Mutual love. Good. Well, until the next time. Big.

00:34:44:17 – 00:34:53:07
Binka LeBreton
Thank you, my love. Lots of love to everyone and greetings from the rainforest.

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