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News > Alumnae Interviews > 10 Questions with...OR Nathalie Walker

10 Questions with...OR Nathalie Walker

18 Feb 2021
Alumnae Interviews

Nathalie Walker (No.4, 1989-91) has over 15 years experience of working in researching and addressing drivers of tropical deforestation. Nathalie is currently Director of Tropical Argiculture for the National Wildlife Federation which brings together experts in natural resource economics, remote sensing and GIS, international law, and tropical ecology to eliminate the loss of tropical forests around the world. Alongside this, Nathalie also works for the Global Canopy Programme and at the Department for International Development at Oxford Unviersity. 

What is your favourite memory of Roedean?

 It's very hard to chose one just one, I have many happy memories, of lots of laughter, birthday parties and plays, and evenings spent chatting with wonderful women who are still my friends. 

What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at School?

That providing we were willing to put the work in, we could become whatever we wanted. That taught me to think big and not to feel limited in any way.

When you were at Roedean, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?

I wanted to be a conservationist protecting rainforests, although I wasn't sure exactly what I'd do, possibly help manage a national park somewhere in the tropics. 

What are you now you've grown up?

I'm a conservation biologist working to protect forests around the world and promote nature-based solutions to climate change.

What does your job involve?

 I work for a US-based conservation organisation advising corporations and governments on policies to protect forests. I help connect our efforts with research institutions and NGOs around the world to support solutions that can conserve forests at risk from commercial agriculture, for goods sold around the world such as palm oil, beef, leather and cocoa. Many governments, including the UK and EU, are developing regulations to stop importing goods coming from deforestation but need help figuring out how best to do this, and how it can support global efforts to curb climate change. 

What have you done that you are most proud of?

Almost all of the work I do involves large numbers of people in different groups trying to persuade even more people to agree to something, so I'm used to being a very small part of something larger. I have worked for many years to support the inclusion of forest conservation in efforts to address climate change, which is known as REDD+ (https://redd.unfccc.int/), and lead my organization's delegation at UN climate meetings,. The Paris Climate Agreement includes an article about REDD+ and so while I can claim no credit for it, being present when the agreement took place, alongside the hardest working people I've known, I felt both very proud and privileged to have supported and been present to see that Agreement reached

What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?

 A Swiss army knife, a tarpaulin that provides shelter and collects rainwater and a solar-powered satellite phone if I wanted to escape, or if that's cheating, the complete works of Shakespeare.

What books have had a significant influence on you and why?

 As a child, Willard Price's books got me hooked on both the adventure of travel and the desire to save wildlife. The Burning Season, about the murder of Chico Mendes, a renowned Brazilian environmentalist, taught me a lot about the wider context of threats to the Amazon. It compelled me to want to work in Brazil, which had felt like a much larger, scarier place to work than the smaller countries in Latin America I had become more familiar with. A year after reading it, I started working on a project in Brazil and it has been the country I've most focused on ever since. 

 What is on your bucket list?

Travel - the Congo basis and Madagascar would be top of the list. I also would love to fully fluent in a few languages that I manage to get by with and be able to master plant family identification. I also have a  long list of books to read and courses I'd like to take, from surfing, to ballet and astronomy.

If you had one year and unlimited funds, what would you do?

I'd use it to help support the causes I care most about, communities I've had a chance to spend time with and learned about their greatest needs, and wishes. People I've met on all continents who are part of destructive industries often just want to afford for their children to be educated and be able to get better jobs, so access to education has so many benefits. 

 

 

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