The JWH Initiative: supporting young environmental leaders

The JWH Initiative aims to stimulate leadership of young people in environmental organisations by giving small grants to individuals to expand their knowledge, experience and training.

The number of dedicated young people in the environmental movement in the Global South is fast growing. However, they often have few opportunities to develop leadership skills due to a lack of resources for schooling, training or practical learning. The Joke Waller-Hunter (JWH) Initiative is one of very few initiatives that offers some of them the opportunity to unfold their full potential and become future environmental leaders.

By giving small grants to individuals to expand their knowledge, experience and training, the Initiative aims to strengthen environmental CSOs' capacity and efficiency. The mission of the JWH Initiative is thus to provide an accessible and tailored small grant for education and training of individuals who are nominated by their organisation as potential future leaders.

Who was Joke Waller-Hunter?

Joke Waller-Hunter (15 November 1946 – 14 October 2005) was a Dutch UN official and one of the most influential people in the world of international environmental action. She was the first UN Director for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, director of the OECD Environment Directorate and served as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In 2005, the environmental sector sadly lost a very dedicated, courageous, and inspirational leader, however her legacy still lives on. On her passing, she left her estate to the capacity development of environmental organisations in developing countries. Having always kept an eye on Both ENDS throughout her illustrious career, Joke Waller-Hunter knew there was no better organisation in The Netherlands to deliver her vision. And so, since 2007 Both ENDS has managed the JWH Initiative. To-date this has directly changed the lives and careers of almost 200 grantees in more than 50 countries.

The impact of small grants

The JWHI grants, modest as they are, often provide just that boost young people need to realise their commitment to environmental justice. Sandra Adéyêmi Freitas from Togo, for instance, used the grant for an internship at the renowned Senegalese NGO ENDA and to finish her Master's degree in Environmental Diplomacy. She set up a successful environmental organisation in her home country, was the first woman in Togo selected to join the country's delegation to the UNFCCC, and now works at the Green Climate Fund.

Grantee Nang Shining used her grant to improve her English and finance the fieldwork for her Master's degree. She studied three riverside communities in Thailand adversely affected by a hydroelectric dam. She then chose to make a difference at the grassroots level in her place of birth, a remote forest area of Myanmar. There she works towards raising the awareness of local youth groups on their rights and environmental justice.

Boosting young environmental leaders

Over the years Both ENDS has developed a strong network in the global south. It is through this network of local partners that Both ENDS is able to identify and select young leaders who have an unwavering dedication to the environment and who'd otherwise remain out of sight. Young and talented people from indigenous communities, people with little formal education but great ambitions, and especially young women can now empower themselves thanks to Joke Waller-Hunter's legacy.

To know more about the nomination and selection process and upcoming calls for proposals, please visit the website of the Joke Waller-Hunter Initiative.

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