In Conversation with Ben Goldsmith: How the yachting community can support the Conservation Collective
When Edmiston heard about the crucial work being carried out by the Conservation Collective, a network of environmental foundations across the world set up to restore our world to its natural state, we knew we had to get involved.
Through our long-term partnership with the Conservation Collective, we now support five locally focused marine projects in the Med and the Caribbean, which aim to protect our seas for future generations in different ways, from a sea turtle conservation project in St Vincent & The Grenadines, to tackling illegal fishing in Mallorca.
Here we talk Ben Goldsmith, founder of the Conservation Collective, about the part we can all play in protecting the places we love.
Can you tell us a bit about why you decided to set up the Conservation Collective and what you hope to achieve?
“A very small proportion of total philanthropic giving is directed towards environmental work – less than 3 per cent – and I think this is because the scale of the crisis unfolding is so big that people turn towards things where they think they can make a difference.”
“With the Conservation Collective, we’ve decided to tap into the love that each of us have for a particular place. We all have a place with which we have a powerful personal connection and so our network of local foundations aims to provide people with a way of working to restore the natural fabric of the places they love.”
Why do you think the Conservation Collective and Edmiston make such a good partnership?
“People go sailing because they love sailing, and they love nature. Edmiston has a set of clients who have a direct personal connection with the natural world, who have money, and who might be tempted to give some of that money away to support the local initiatives in the places they visit. It’s a marriage made in heaven: if we can introduce the work of some of our environmental foundations to people visiting those places, then it’s a perfect fit.”
Yachts are often maligned for having a bad environmental impact, do you think that’s fair/is changing?
“Boats of all kinds are becoming greener, cleaner, and more efficient each year. The yachts we see today are in a different league to the boats we would have known a decade or two ago – and that’s only going to get better and better. Yacht owners should keep the pressure on boatbuilders to continue using innovations to improve efficiency in yachts.
I also think travel and time spent in nature is our birthright and I don’t resent people who want to see world, either in an expensive or inexpensive way. People who love nature and want to get closer to it can be hugely valuable when it comes to restoring it.”
Do you think it’s important for the yachting community and charter guests to be conscious of the natural environments they travel to?
“Yes. I think on some subconscious level we are always aware of the natural environment around us – as human beings we crave a connection with nature, and we need people to put their shoulder to the wheel and support efforts to restore nature.
“I’d like to introduce Edmiston’s clients to the idea that in many areas they visit, nature has been terribly depleted from what it was, but there are initiatives – many which are run on shoestring – that aim to turn that around and this is where they can help.
“We support over 100 projects across the world, and I believe most people visiting a beautiful place would appreciate the opportunity to see ways they can help restore nature.”
Some of the local initiatives you run have a very real and obvious impact on nature (such as the protection of nesting areas for sea turtles). Are there ways that charter guests can see the positive effect this work is having, without causing damage?
“I think what we would love to see would be the opportunity for Edmiston clients when they are sailing in any part of the world to be able to visit turtle hatcheries or reforested places to see first-hand the work being done.
“On the island of Cabrera, off Mallorca, for instance, the amount of wildlife that lives there, and the recovery of nature in a few short years is staggering.”
How crucial is it that the yachting world plays its part in protecting marine environments?
“All of us have a responsibility to do what we can to tackle the greatest challenge that humanity has ever faced and give back to the places we are enjoying and restore them to their former vibrancy.”
What makes the Conservation Collective unique in its approach to protecting the environment?
“I think the Conservation Collective addresses two of the core challenges facing environmental work: how do you get people to give money to environmental work? And how to you get that money to the most effective initiatives?”
Our place-based model, whereby we give people the chance to donate money to the places they love, addresses the first of the challenges, and the second thing we do well is that we are ultra-efficient at distributing that money to the very places where efforts have the most impact – which is often at the grass roots level.”
What’s the one thing you hope charter guests take away from their experiences with the Conservation Collective?
“I want people to become active environmentalists – we need a new crop of environmentally-minded philanthropists.
“If we can help bring people to a place whereby they devote a chunk of their time and money to efforts to restore nature, then we’ll be doing our job.
“We need restoration and we need to rewild the world. I want Edmiston clients, be they travelling in Mallorca or the Caribbean to feel plugged into efforts to restore nature in those places and be excited and think, ‘I can afford it. I’m going to give them money, in fact, I’m going to give them money every year to help.’
The good news is that nature recovers quickly, and, in many circumstances, we can restore things to a vibrancy that hasn’t been seen in centuries.
It’s time for a whole new paradigm when it comes to our relationship with nature.”
30th June 2022 |