A speech delivered by The Duke of Sussex at Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Global Leadership Meeting
Thank you very much. I really hope everyone is having a great time in Windsor this week and that you’re all using this opportunity to learn so much more about each and every one of your communities that effectively cover the whole globe. I’m also incredibly excited to be with you today as I’ve heard so much about the Roots and Shoots programme and the wonderful work that you do.
I met Jane last year, and my affirmation was probably similar to how you all felt this week when you met her for the first time. That she is a woman of kindness, warmth, immense knowledge and a softness that’s needed by mankind just as much as it is chimpkind. I’ve been admiring her work since I was a kid and it was so wonderful to find that she was even more amazing in person. She even treated me to a chimp welcome which only Jane can do! Well, and chimps!
We also had the opportunity to discuss our shared belief that conservation and community engagement go hand-in-hand. I truly believe that the heart of conservation and sustainability is about people. For any of our efforts to succeed, an inclusive, community-centred approach where they benefit from safeguarding their natural assets, is what works; and we have seen that proven time and time again, but sadly not to scale quite yet.
Jane, if I may, and I also agree that young people have the power, the compassion and the tools to save our planet. I hope you all know what a big job we have to do. I say we – I still include myself in this.
Just as Jane has a legacy, and I have a legacy – you have a legacy too. As leaders in your communities striving to making a positive impact, you have a responsibility to set an example with the choices you make, not only in your work but in your personal life too – others will follow, perhaps they already do.
This is why the Roots and Shoots programme is so inspiring.
When I heard that all of you here today are part of a network of more than 150,000 Roots and Shoots groups representing almost 60 countries now -it’s easy to see the potential you all have to make a massive impact in the places you live and together reaching right around the world. As we all now know, in the world we live in today, we’ve polluted the air and oceans, flattened rainforests, and burned through the world’s resources.
96 percent of ALL mammals on earth are either livestock or humans. That means just 4 percent of the animals on this planet are wild.
Whether it be habitat encroachment, huge bush fires, or dangerous levels of carbon emissions — we have contributed to the problem, and now we need to be the ones to create the solutions.
The good news is that young people like you don’t need to be convinced that we must urgently intervene; you are actively doing this every single day, and your dedication to effecting change is outstanding.
As my grandmother The Queen once said – ‘Sometimes the world’s problems are so big we think we can do little to help. On our own we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.’
I have had the privilege of seeing this happen first-hand through my work as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, and as President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. From New Zealand to Zambia, I’ve been lucky enough to meet incredible people all over the world who are leading the way in coming up with sustainable solutions – they have developed ways to turn recycled plastic into bricks, create textiles and clothing from 100% sustainable materials, and found ways to use solar-powered energy to light up huge rural communities.
It’s innovations like these, born from the creativity of young people’s minds, which will turn the tide for humanity and preserve our planet for future generations.
I also read that one of Jane’s mottos is “think global, act local.” That’s incredibly powerful and it’s what all of you are doing, so well done, keep up the good work and always remember change begins right there…. with you.