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Harvard University: A British Philanthropist

As the Cop-26 summit nears, Nick Maughan emphasises the importance of holistic approach to environmentalism.

In recent weeks, the threat of climate change has become increasingly impossible to ignore. We have seen devastating floods in Germany and Belgium, wildfires in Greece, France, Italy, and Turkey, and for the very first time, rainfall on the summit of Greenland’s ice cap in a stark sign of global warming.

For any avoidance of doubt, the latest IPCC report has confirmed our greatest fears: climate change is here, it is a crisis, and it is directly causing extreme weather. Labelled a ‘code red for humanity’, the IPCC report makes for sobering reading, leaving many bewildered about how best to proceed.

Yet, for Nick Maughan, the impact investor and philanthropist, the answer is clear: ‘We need to understand the relationship between biodiversity and the climate, and fund projects which can protect both simultaneously.’

Recognising that humanity must solve the climate and nature crisis together, or risk solving neither, Nick Maughan emphasises the importance of adopting a holistic approach to environmentalism.

The merits of this approach are becoming increasingly apparent. As a recent, peer-reviewed report found, addressing both biodiversity loss and climate change together offers us the best chance at placing the planet on the path to recovery. This is because the likes of reforestation and rewilding projects can serve to tackle both crises, helping to increase biodiversity and protect endangered species while also working to restore ecosystems that can rapidly and cheaply absorb carbon.

Adopting this comprehensive approach, Nick Maughan has big environmental ambitions and even bigger ideas for how to achieve them. As Founder of the Nick Maughan Foundation (NMF), which works to promote progressive conservation efforts worldwide, Maughan looks for unique opportunities to impact change.

For example, he recently drew attention to the high environmental cost of defunct and retiring mines that pollute up to 9% of rivers in England and Wales long after they are abandoned. Offering a creative solution to this important yet often overlooked problem, Maughan argues we should consider reforesting abandoned mine land to restore soil fertility, improve microclimatic conditions, and protect local wildlife.

‘Rather than harking back to our mistakes, we should be accelerating the restoration of these scars of the past – and turn them into bio-diverse opportunities for the future,’ says Nick Maughan.

Looking beyond reforesting disused mines, the Nick Maughan Foundation is driven to support numerous and varied conservation initiatives across the globe, which include working to reduce carbon emissions, protect endangered species, and campaign for green policies.

As a long-standing supporter of Tusk Trust, a UK non-profit advancing wildlife conservation across Africa, NMF’s support helps further Tusk’s mission to combat poaching, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict.

In the past, NMF has sponsored Tusk’s Conservation Awards, including the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award, which seeks to recognise an individual dedicated to protecting Africa’s wildlife. Previous winners include Amos Gwema from Zimbabwe, a wildlife intelligence officer that works with local communities to map and dismantle poaching networks. Recognising the unsung conservation heroes of today, the award hopes to inspire the environmental leaders of tomorrow.

Most recently, the Foundation has also sponsored the Tusk Lion Trail – an international street art exhibition aiming to raise awareness of the magnificence of lions and the threats facing them today. Sponsoring life-sized lion sculptures designed by the likes of actor Noel Fielding and Gavin & Stacey star Mathew Horne, organisers are hoping the global art installation will surpass the success of the 2018 Tusk Rhino Trail that raised almost $1 million for conservation projects.

The Nick Maughan Foundation’s commitment to protecting the planet is clear. Yet for Maughan, building a better future also means exploring the power of impact investing, having become involved in a number of investment projects that are designed to generate beneficial environmental effects. Seeking to improve the effectiveness and credibility of impact investing at a wider level, Maughan has argued for the need to establish more rigorous systems for measuring and quantifying a company’s positive ‘impact’.

Through both his philanthropic initiatives, and ESG investment priorities, Nick Maughan is taking active steps to respond to the increasing threat of climate change. Refusing to become paralysed by the enormity of the challenge, Maughan believes significant global collaboration could turn the tide.

‘Personally, I cannot imagine a world without lions, rhinos, or elephants, but we will have to fight for that future… To achieve this, we need commitment as well as creativity,’ says Nick Maughan.

It is clear Maughan has both. As Cop-26 quickly approaches, termed ‘our last best chance’ to avert the climate catastrophe, we will need every tool in our arsenal.


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