Imagination is power & the World Wilderness Congress is the vehicle for a collective reimagining of the world

Nov 22, 20212021 Choose Earth's Future, Featured, Talking WILD, Wilderness Designations

by Amy Lewis

Vice President, Communications & Policy

Imagination is power. In an era like ours, this is especially true because it is still possible to change that which is readily apparent – an impending global ecological catastrophe – but only if we choose to imagine a different future and act accordingly.

In other words, imagination is the vehicle for change. It ignites our courage and directs our action. 

In the coming years, we are all going to need to act on a lot more imaginative ideas if we are to save life on Earth as we know it. 

That is why the focus of WILD’s 2021 year-end campaign is you, your choices, and your innate capacity to change the world. Yes, WILD plays a role – our programs empower people around the world – people like you and maybe people who are  different but still share a common purpose – to step into the roles for which they were born, as stewards and champions of Earth’s magnificent, life-sustaining biosphere.

Much of conservation is done by specialists: scientists speaking to technocrats about protecting significant areas utilizing esoteric policy instruments. Those specialists have ensured we still have wild areas left to protect. But the challenge before us will not be surmounted by an army of experts and scientists. The challenge we now face is one that must be addressed by the entire world. In the last century humanity developed the capacity to destroy nature at a planetary scale. We must now develop a global ethic of protection and care for nature at a planetary scale. Doing so requires significant public involvement.

WILD has always known that individuals within the public play essential roles in the defense of wild nature. It was the reason why our founders, Ian Player and his Zulu mentor Magqubu Ntombela, called for the first ever global indaba – a gathering of the tribes  and communities from around the world – to build consensus and support for the protection of wildlife and wild places. This became the World Wilderness Congress – WILD’s flagship program, and the cornerstone upon which many of our other conservation successes are built.

Likely because of his own cultural traditions,  Magqubu, in particular, realized that the character of a society is determined by the relationships people have with each other and the natural world. When people from all walks of life come together to reimagine those relationships and mobilize collective action around a new vision, transformative change becomes possible.

And nothing short of transformative change is needed now as we confront the twin crises of climate and mass extinction, powered by  our own unsustainable way of life. Individual actions are necessary but not sufficient. Nothing short of collective action is required – moving towards an imaginative vision of what the world can be if we decide to make it so.

Over many  years, the World Wilderness Congress has been instrumental in building a global community  for wild nature and mobilizing it for collective action.. It will continue to be so in the next few years. Over a decade ago, the World Wilderness Congress helped give birth to the Nature Needs Half movement which this year achieved a great victory for nature – the first official global recognition of the scientific necessity to protect Half of Earth’s lands and seas.

The global community shaped by the World Wilderness Congress will be the basis for near-term and mid-term actions to protect Half of Earth by partnering with Indigenous stewards of these lands and seas, and also to help restore and rewild terrestrial and marine areas and vastly increase their ability to store carbon.

In the long-term, the World Wilderness Congress will continue to be the animating force behind keeping Earth wild. Just as we need nature, generation after generation, to continue to produce the conditions necessary to support human civilization, nature needs a committed collective of stewards and guardians – generation after generation – to protect the biosphere as a whole, not just in parts. The World Wilderness Congress safeguards not just a global wilderness ethic, but the relationships that help manifest that ethic into the world.

WILD is the platform for collective action, but ultimately nature depends on you, and the participation of people like you, to engage those platforms in order to reimagine our relationship with wild nature and the actions we take to defend the biosphere.

We are currently in the midst of an adventure, one in which you are a leading protagonist, in which you help determine the outcome of our civilization’s story. I am pleased to offer WILD’s programs as instruments to aid us all on this journey, while recognizing that the conclusion of that journey will not be determined by WILD’s programs alone.

Here at WILD we are very familiar with the obstacles placed before those who dare to imagine the bold, ambitious actions urgently needed in our time. WILD helped achieve some great accomplishments for wild nature this year, and there is still much left to do and not much time to do it in. Fortunately, there is also you and your imagination. Our aim is to encourage and empower others to take a leading role in the work yet to come on this critical adventure to defend the biosphere and save humanity’s future.


When you give to WILD you strengthen the building blocks of a more respectful relationship with wild nature. Consider helping to keep Earth wild in 2022 with a gift to the WILD Foundation.

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