As the challenge of climate change intensifies our Fellows seek solutions

Climate change is a defining problem of our age and it will take an unprecedented collective effort to change the trajectory we are currently on, an effort which preoccupies many of our Fellows.

As legendary British documentary maker David Attenborough said at the global climate change conference COP26: “We are, after all, the greatest problem solvers to have ever existed on Earth. If working apart, we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet. Surely working together, we are powerful enough to save it.”

Today, as climate change poses increasingly severe risks for our planet, many of our Fellows are leading the way when it comes to climate action. Whether they work in business, NGOs or public service, they are bringing their expertise and leadership to bear on their societies’ environmental challenges.

Inspiration for positive change

During our fellowship programmes Fellows develop an action plan which can be the catalyst for exciting and innovative environmental projects. As Anastasia Zhdanovich says: “It was an incredible opportunity to take my dedication and skills to the next level and beyond. The access I received to high-level UK experts and senior leaders in the field of environmental protection and conservation accelerated my ability to implement important environmental projects in Belarus which attracted collaboration and partnerships.”

Similarly Dalerdzhon Nabiev, from Tajikistan, says: “The John Smith Trust experience was literally life changing for me – not just with my professional knowledge but with my understanding of the world and of myself. The Trust has given me something not only of benefit to me for all my life but also of benefit for everyone I meet and can share it with!”

Through our Fellows network John Smith Fellows become part of a lifelong collaborative community of leaders and change makers. Below is a snapshot of what some of our Fellows are currently doing to tackle the climate crisis.

Sustainable development and CSR

Nana Janashia (Georgia) is the executive director of the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), a leading environmental non-profit organisation operating in the South Caucasus region – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. CENN works at both local and regional levels to protect the environment by fostering sustainable development throughout the South Caucasus. CENN specialises in: sustainable management of resources, promoting inclusive economic development, fostering democracy and good governance, building and developing healthy and prosperous climate resilient communities, and empowering women and girls to participate in creating inclusive solutions.

Malika Sharipova (Uzbekistan) is a founder and director at CARE CSR which helps businesses in Central Asia develop and apply appropriate strategies for environmental sustainability and social responsibility. She also runs workshops on inclusive employment and on how to attract investors for social impact ventures. In Uzbekistan, she promotes responsible business practices and delivers capacity building on international environmental, social and governance standards (ESG) which measure the efforts of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Recently she hosted the first-ever CSR and ESG event to gather ideas and opinions from businesses and the government to develop a baseline understanding for developing future ESG regulations and guidelines for Uzbekistan.

Daler Nabiev is a rural development adviser and climate activist working for NGO Natural Resource Conservation for Development (NRCD) based in the Zarafshan Valley (Aini, Panjakent), Tajikistan. He advises farmers and rural communities on agricultural innovations, climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation issues and supports them to adapt their livelihoods in response to the risks and opportunities presented by climate change. Daler also actively cooperates with the Khujand-based Environmental Youth Association, educating and mobilising the next generation of climate activists at universities as well as conducting awareness campaigns among school children.

Environment, enterprise and energy

Liza Mamaliga (Moldova) is the executive director of Dulce Plai, an environmentally friendly social enterprise in the beekeeping and honey industry. “We need the bees because they pollinate our crops and keep the biodiversity,” Liza says. Not only is her enterprise important for the environment, but she also uses local green ingredients (such as walnuts and cereal) for her products. Liza is building an online platform for food producers to sell their products within Moldova, which she will launch in September 2022.

Mkhitar Avetisyan (Armenia) is a recycling pioneer determined to improve the waste management culture in his country and change the decades-long poor waste habits of the population. He co-founded Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development (ISSD) which implements innovative projects in waste management, agriculture, education and business while promoting the circular economy and women’s empowerment. Recently, ISSD, with support from the UK Embassy in Armenia, ran a ‘waste reunion’ project, which included educational and awareness-raising events to support Armenia in its transition to a circular economy. The project also focused on increasing environmental awareness among young people.

Khusniddin Alikulov is a leading energy and environmental analyst in Uzbekistan, focused on developing solar hybrid systems adaptable for arid regions. He works on environmental justice issues and develops cutting-edge approaches for increasing the share of solar and hydrogen energy technologies in Uzbekistan. He has also been a visiting Fellow at the Waste to Energy plant in Spokane (USA), analysing solid waste sorting strategies and providing recommendations for further improvement of solid waste management in Uzbekistan.

Environmental law and the green economy

Olya Melen-Zabramna (Ukraine) is head of the legal unit at Environment-People-Law, where she is working with colleagues on collecting information and analysing the risks to the environment from Russian aggression. This includes a whole range of risks – such as management of the nuclear plants and how to deal with forest fires in areas of occupation. They are also looking at international avenues for pursuing compensation for the damage done.

Anastasia Zhdanovich (Belarus) specialises in natural resources management, climate change and environmental law. She was involved in setting up the first ever hazardous waste management system for Belarus under the Stockholm Convention and the initiatives for planting tens of thousands of trees for land restoration – one of the most successful small-scale environmental projects in Belarus. Anastasia is a winner of the 2019 UN Global Compact Partnership for Sustainability Award.

Uluk Kydyrbaev is the Enabling Environment Partnerships Lead at the USAID Kyrgyz Republic Agro Trade Activity (ATA) Project. He has experience in managing initiatives to raise awareness among the business community and civil society about the green economy and its principles. He has run information campaigns and training on green technology for small and medium enterprises. Uluk also helped set up the annual National Green Economy forums which aim to support the transition of the Kyrgyz Republic to a green economy.

Find out more about our fellowship programmes and network activities

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