Planeteer Feature: Ipato’s Commitment to Restoring the Natural World

At a young age, Ipato discovered her passion for preserving nature using traditional, Indigenous practices passed down from her Maasai Pastoral Community in Kenya. Now age 23, a leader with Planeteer Alliance and member of the Tide Turners Policy Change Champion Cohort, Ipato is exploring how her understanding of the natural world can be a driving force for global change.

Ipato explains that her community taught her the importance of the relationship between humans and their local environment, as their livelihood and identity are closely tied to the natural world. As her passion grew, her focus transformed, “From a young age, I learned why it is important to coexist harmoniously with the environment and wild animals. This upbringing put in me the responsibility of taking care of our surroundings and ensuring its sustainability for future generations.” Through her involvement with Planeteer Alliance, she has learned to design and implement campaigns focused on habitat restoration, environmental education, and wildlife. 

“As I learned more, I started to see that environmental problems are connected globally,” she explained, “I became aware of larger issues like climate change and pollution. This made me want to promote sustainable practices not just in my community, but everywhere.” 

These combined experiences inspired her to participate in changing policy at the local and global level. “Policy is important because it sets rules and guidelines on how human beings interact with nature.” Ipato is currently participating in the Tide Turners Plastic Policy Champion Cohort, where she is implementing a campaign to address the problems presented by plastic from a policy perspective. Ipato has previously contributed to Plastic Free Initiatives by advocating for plastic-free policies and promoting alternatives to single-use plastics through awareness campaigns, community workshops, and partnerships with local businesses and governments. Participation in this Cohort is taking her advocacy a step further, where she is focusing on eliminating single-use plastics from distribution at the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Through her involvement in Planeteer Alliance and the Tide Turners Program, Ipato has seen significant growth in her network and skill-set to be an effective champion for turning the tide on plastic.  “I have been able to work with other Planeteers around the globe. I have gained valuable skills from the workshops and training sessions I have attended, including the Advanced Policy Training in Nairobi in November 2023. I have developed important skills in communication, advocacy, and leadership,” she explained. “I have been able to access funding opportunities, grants, and technical support for the community projects. This support has been very helpful in implementing successful initiatives.”

With support from Captain Planet Foundation, UNEP Tide Turners Program, and other organizations, Ipato participated in COP28, the 2023 Africa Climate Summit, and Youth Connect Africa.

In March 2024, in honor of International Women’s Day, Ipato was recognized by the Zuri Foundation for her work empowering Indigenous women and girls who are embracing conservation and pastoral practices. She also received the Eco-Warriors Recognition Award for her contributions to conservation advocacy in tourism in November 2023. 

As she continues advocating for preservation and restoration, Ipato hopes to inspire others to do the same. “Change starts with each person. In whatever field we work in, let’s ensure it helps the environment in one way or another for future generations. As I always say, ‘The earth is the only beautiful place we have.’”