120 Seconds with Nicoleta Carpineanu NOW talks to the Founder of Forests Without Frontiers

120 Seconds with Nicoleta Carpineanu
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Nicoleta is a UK based, Romanian artist/environmental activist with in-depth experience in Research & Development of projects, producer of documentary films including Wild Carpathia and international DJ/Music Producer under the name Nico de Transilvania. She is also a yoga teacher. Nico spent her childhood in the forests of Romania, learning how to live in harmony with the environment.

One word that describes you?

Enthusiastic.

What project are you most proud of when it comes to sustainability (on profit, people and planet)?

Forests Without Frontiers (forestswithoutfrontiers.org), the project I launched in late 2018. We planted 25,000 trees in Romania in our first year alone and aim to plant one million by 2025. We use music and arts to engage with reforestation and restoring eco-systems. We want everyone to come together to work to restore nature.

Which is your favourite part of your job and which part do you enjoy the least?

My favourite part is being in nature and working with people who are similar-minded and want to help nature regenerate and keep the hope for a better future alive. The least favourite part is the logistics and paperwork!

What is your personal indulgence?

A whole weekend in deep pristine nature, with natural hot springs, and a comfortable yurt, fully disconnected from internet and e-mails.

The December 2019 UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change warned that we only have until 2028 for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Will we make it? What is your Plan B?

To stand any chance of success we all need to be working together on a global scale – with governments taking tangible action. We need to move beyond the idea of becoming carbon neutral to becoming ‘carbon positive’, working to counter the damage that’s already been done, not just negate what we’re doing going forward. There is no plan B. This is our best option, to fall back in love with nature and look after our home – Planet Earth.

If travel and tourism is a country, it would be the 4th largest emitter of carbon in the world as of 2019, contributing 8% to global emissions with 20% from the hospitality industry. Being fairly late to the game, what must happen NOW to get aviation and hotel companies to commit to rigorous sustainability with accountability and full transparency, and drastically reduce carbon emissions? (It must be now that….)

Firstly businesses and individuals must reduce how much they fly. Obviously Covid-19 has changed flying – for now – but things cannot go back to how they were. Hopefully it will be the start of a greener way to travel, with fewer flights and more considered sustainable tourism. We have an opportunity to change things – a time to pause and look at how we can improve. But it must be now that aviation becomes carbon positive – nobody should fly without planting trees or investing in other projects that have a positive impact on earth and help repair some of the damage we have done. I feel passionate that there should be no flying without doing something to counter the effects – it should be law, there should be a tax or increase in fares to fund this. And hotel and travel companies should be fully responsible for their carbon emissions and be required to have strict sustainability policies in place that can be verified.

In 2019, climate change activism sparked the support of millions, conscious people young and old, unified in their demand for governments and companies worldwide to take urgent action on climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse. If you could have one hour with a world leader, who would it be and what would you say to support climate action NOW?

Instead of trying to battle with Trump, I’d choose Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand to see how we could work together. Her new bill with serious commitments to zero carbon emissions by 2050 is encouraging to see – although we need to act faster. We need to take the opportunity we have now to build back better – so I would discuss how we can use the pause the corona pandemic has given the world to move forward in a better way. We need a new normal that puts the planet first.

What would you say to those who do little to nothing for the good of communities and the environment?

They need to wake up. We are all interconnected – people and planet – and it’s time they played a role in supporting the planet they live on. I’d ask them to visualise that every time they breathe in they inhale the oxygen being produced by trees and plants – every time they exhale the trees and plants absorb CO2. We wouldn’t survive without this symbiotic relationship and we need to nurture it. We need to support communities that are more vulnerable – particularly in a tourism context, where we are visitors, we need to give back, not keep taking.

How can we build a more stable and just world after the Covid-19 crisis?

We need to reconnect to nature and remember that we are part of nature. We need to help local communities regenerate and look after the more vulnerable sectors of our societies. The pandemic has shown us how fragile we are and how connected the world is too and we need to work together to build back better. The world cannot go back to ‘normal’, companies cannot carry on the way they were before. All companies need to contribute a percentage of profits to support the environment and local communities. We have to take this chance to evolve.

What are you, your family and/or your company doing to reduce and offset your carbon footprint and inspire others to do the same? Are you all walking-the-talk?

Well, I’ve set up Forests Without Frontiers to help do this. I try and live my life conscientiously, taking account of the environmental impact of my actions wherever possible. I only buy local organic food, I don’t own a car, I use public transport as much as possible and I don’t really go on holidays abroad unless I combine them with work as well. So I would like to think that I am walking the talk.

What is your personal favourite place to stay that’s trying hard to be accountable and transparent around sustainability with no greenwash allowed? 

Swasti Eco Cottages (www.baliswasti.com) in Bali is a beautiful nature haven consciously developed in harmony with the environment. They grow their own food, recycle, use natural soap and everything is made from local, sustainably sourced materials. Amfiteatrul (www.amfiteatrul.ro) is an eco-lodge in Transylvania with a strong sustainability ethos and a breathtaking view of the Carpathian mountains.

Who is your greatest influence?

My grandma Rozalia. She was self-sufficient and lived in harmony with the environment in a house right by the forest. I’ve a learned a lot from her about living with the seasons, and that there is a cure for everything in nature. Her attitude to life in very hard political times was truly inspiring, always positive and generous with everything she had, ending up adopting seven more children on top of her own 10.

Best advice you’ve been given?

My mum taught me that even when things are challenging we can always find solutions… and to take one day at a time. And I am huge fan of the poet Rumi’s work, I take so much inspiration from his poems and quotes, such as: “As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.”

Your best advice to the young generations concerned about their future?

Remain hopeful. There is always something we can do. Work together and focus on what is good rather than becoming paralysed and disheartened – there are amazing people out there doing incredible things. You can’t change people, but you can change yourself. Always give your best, and treat yourself with love and respect, so that you can treat the others the same.

Any regrets?

I don’t regret things, I see everything as a lesson – although I do wish I’d taught my 16-year-old son, who has grown up in England, to speak Romanian fluently. But there is still time!


Personal Message from Nicoleta Carpineanu

Join us and become the voice of the forest. Become a member, make monthly or one-off donations and help us plant another 25,000 trees this autumn. https://www.forestswithoutfrontiers.org/membership

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