Archives For The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Georgina Langdale, Strategic Adviser – Conservation and Prosperity (contracted consultant)

In 2010 I flew from Germany to Uruguay to present The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) during two days of Global Environment Facility meetings. I got a bit of a kick out of being by the South Atlantic sea – something to do with my sailing-around-the world fantasies I have from time to time

At work…

What kind of things do you do in your role?

I try to highlight the connectivity of the environment to our lives, our identity, the well-being of communities and the prosperity of the country. I attempt to shine a spotlight on how other countries around the world are starting to factor our fundamental reliance on nature into their policy thinking and business practice; and then I try to help identify the tools that we could use to do this in NZ and the advantages this approach would bring to creating a sustainable future.

One of the things I learnt at the UN in Bonn (view from my desk) was the pitfalls of trying to cycle to work in the snow – long story, not pretty, but plenty of comedy moments

What is the best part about your job?

Discovering all the wonderful work DOC does around the country. Meeting so many people who are passionate about the contribution they are making to keep iconic NZ species and habitats alive and intact, or who are in other sectors and really trying to change things in order to help create a sustainable future for us all.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Trying to get my DOC work done in a four day week and then be able to switch off and focus on my other consultancy work (currently for a biosphere reserve in Ethiopia) on the one remaining working day!

Read about the Kafa Biosphere Reserve in Ethiopia.

What led you to your role in DOC?

Working at the United Nations with Pavan Sukhdev on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB) study, which has done so much to start to shift the way people and political and business systems think about our fundamental reliance on nature.

Before that I worked for Kew gardens in London and intersected with DOC on global conservation issues. All this was built on years of working in communications, and has blended with my returning to NZ with a wish to make some sort of small contribution to the NZ economic and environmental landscape – which probably sounds big-headed but is actually about a simple wish to try and help fix the ecological mess we are getting ourselves in if we carry on with ‘business as usual’.

Kew gardens – does it always snow at work in the northern hemisphere?

Read more about TEEB and the TEEB Business Coalition which I am also involved with.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Being told some people had liked some of the stuff I was talking about and were thinking about what it meant to them and how it could be used.

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. The scent of jasmine wafting through the window.
  2. Visceral paint on a Jasper Johns canvas.
  3. Being home at last.

One of the great things about being back in NZ is being able to spend time in the bush at the back of the family farm in Hawke’s Bay

Three pet peeves

  1. People who are still determined to overtake when the passing lane is narrowing.
  2. Silo mentality.
  3. Litterers.

Three foods

  1. Roast with all the trimmings.
  2. Anything Japanese.
  3. Oysters.

3 favourite places in New Zealand

  1. My beautiful home and garden.
  2. Lake Waikaremoana.
  3. Lake Tekapo.

Favourite movie, album, book

  • The film ‘Lost in translation’ remains a fave.
  • The album depends on the mood but I seem to be in a Vincent Gallo moment at present.
  • Current favourite book is ‘Essence and Alchemy’ by Mandy Aftel.

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

Go for it. Don’t be scared to follow your dreams.

Who or what inspires you and why?

There are a lot of people who inspire me – usually because of a vision that can see around corners; it sounds corny but the NZ landscape has always inspired me, even in the years I was not living here it remained my inspirational touchstone.

Tekapo, what a gorgeous place with stunning scenery by day and infinite skies at night. Seeing Saturn through the telescope at Mt John will remain a humbling highlight for me

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It depended on which week it was: marine biologist; artist; film score composer (hey, I was a kid!).

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A perfumery alchemist, artist and author (probably a lotto winner in order to be able to do all that as well).

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Think about what we are handing on – tread lightly.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

Ruthless recycling.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

A tūī – I’d love to be able to sing, honk and click like that just for the fun of it.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Look after this land and it will look after you.