Fellow Since 2012
This profile was prepared when Zaher Redwan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Zaher is putting together all of the relevant pieces to make biodiversity a strategic national objective. He is financially incentivizing those whose actions are accelerating the loss of biodiversity – like private landowners who sell farmland to urban developers and herb collectors who crudely harvest plants growing in the wild – to do the opposite. Similarly, financial incentives encourage new actors to be a part of the solution – like farmers who previously grew marginally viable crops like tobacco and now grow the more profitable, less labor-intensive, disappearing oregano plant. By using a 1500 person network made up of young people to lead this work, Zaher is also nurturing a new generation to be more knowledgeable about the environment and thus, its natural stewards. Beyond working with targeted groups mentioned above, Zaher uses this network to educate the general public, including an even younger generation, to consider their thoughts on the richness of the Lebanese environment and consider ecologically friendly practices in their everyday lives. This network currently works in 100 schools and has brought interactive educational sessions, including different games to better understand their ecological footprint, to over 100,000 students. Students have also been brought outside the classroom to witness and participate in the local projects underway to promote biodiversity. Lastly, Zaher is closing the loop of this comprehensive strategy by spearheading national policy on biodiversity to be supported by the work his network is already doing with local government decision makers in each of Lebanon’s 26 districts.