Although this time they meet virtually rather than in person, Dr Jane Goodall’s conversation with Livia Firth for ELLE India is as inspiring and engaging as ever.
When Dr Jane Goodall DBE most recently met with Livia Firth, it’s not quite like their previous encounters. As they greet one another from their respective lockdown locations, they come together virtually to discuss hope, the resilience of nature and the opportunities that Covid-19 presents as we begin to shape a more positive future.
The exclusive conversation between Livia and ELLE India’s May cover star is timely. A scientist, conservationist, mentor and UN Messenger of Peace, Jane says she’s been busy with video calls, digital meetings and speaking events in recent weeks. ‘My mute button has been playing up!’ she jokes, and although she is keeping busy and well, she notes ‘I miss being able to reach people in person.’
A hero of Livia’s, and someone she considers a ‘wonderful icon,’ we’ve been taking inspiration from Jane and her optimistic attitude towards the future of the natural world, and our roles within it as active citizens. Here’s a little of what she had to say:
“I don’t think you have the right to point at somebody and say, “you’ve got to change” if you don’t change yourself.”
On the impact of Covid-19
“I’m not hopeful that some of the politicians, the world leaders are going to change. It will need the community to rise right now, and I think the ground now is really ripe for that because what this lockdown has made us suddenly rediscover, almost like this interconnection that we have, this sense of community. It almost taught us, reminded us, that we are citizens.”
“We have to act locally before we dare think globally.”
On the climate crisis
“If people think that we can resolve the climate crisis without the conservation of natural resources, they just have their head in the clouds. They don’t understand or they listen to the wrong people. So, conservation, pandemic, climate change, is all like this.”
“I still have hope in the resilience of nature, I have hope in the youth, and I have hope in the indomitable human spirit that says ‘I am not going to give up. I will never give up.’
On changing minds
“I remember when I began this long effort to end medical research on chimpanzees, I managed to get into a lab and then managed to organise a meeting with me and some of the people in the lab. A lot of animal rights people never spoke to me again. They said “how can you sit down with those evil people? How can you accept a cup of coffee from them?” And I said, “if you don’t sit to talk to them, how can you expect change?”
On the future
“My Marshall plan for nature is to leave nature alone. Nature can do really well without us.”
“I couldn’t have lived without my sense of humour because you know, sometimes things seem pretty grim.”