Gita Syahrani, an environmental activist, on Wednesday (1/11/2023) received the 2023 Climate Breakthrough Award presented by Climate Breakthrough, a climate change philanthropy organization based in San Francisco, California, United States.
Not only Gita but the 2023 Climate Breakthrough Award was also given to Jane Fleming Kleeb, an American activist. The award is the largest environmental grant made to an individual.
Gita and Jane join 17 previous Climate Breakthrough Award recipients who have used their funds to create new and expand existing initiatives with strong climate breakthrough potential.
The 38-year-old becomes the second Indonesian to be honored with the award after Arief Rabik in 2019.
“Gita and Jane are two inspiring leaders who have made tremendous contributions to addressing the climate crisis, and now they have their sights set on even more ambitious goals,” Savanna Ferguson, Climate Breakthrough Executive Director said.
“I am grateful that Climate Breakthrough can catalyze their efforts to mitigate climate change. Both intend to continue their work at the national level, which, as they are in two of the world’s largest emitting countries, has the potential to have a global impact.”
Gita Syahrani has spent her career bringing together industry, government, development partners, and communities to drive collective action on the environment and sustainability in Indonesia.
Her grandmother, she says, inspired her to protect the environment.
Syaharani’s name became increasingly recognized among Indonesian environmental activists when in 2017 she served as executive director of the Secretariat of Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari (LTKL), an association created and managed by the district government to foster sustainable development, environmental protection, and community welfare through collaboration.
Syaharani established a diverse network of global, national, and subnational partners to support the nine LTKL members in achieving their target to conserve at least 5.5 million hectares of forest and 2 million hectares of peatland by 2030. This is done in innovative ways that can improve the welfare of at least one million families in the region.
Syaharani led the LTKL Secretariat until 2023. She then formed the Earth-centered Economy Coalition, which aims to develop a “proof of concept” for the realization of bioeconomy — parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea to produce food, health, materials, products, textiles, and energy.
The target is to launch 100 nature-based businesses in districts and provinces rich in forests and peatlands by 2026.
“If we succeed, we will have passionate leaders, thriving entrepreneurs, and a policy umbrella to integrate nature-based innovation and bioeconomy approaches into development plans across all jurisdictions,” Syaharani said.
Through her work, Syaharani has built strong networks and relationships and gained international recognition.
In 2019, Asia Society included her in its Asia 21 Young Leaders program. Most recently, the HEAL Fisheries Project – a youth-led community-based venture in Riau to protect peatlands by creating value-added products from fish – which she supports with Alam Siak Lestari, won the MIT Solve Global Challenges 2021.
Gita was also selected as a 2023 Ashoka Fellow.
“I am passionate about making space for policy advocacy based on success stories,” says Gita. “I want to awaken the imagination of Indonesians, especially Generation Z, so that they can envision a future with a more regenerative and equitable model of economic growth.”