Everybody knows about the WWF’s iconic panda logo, but not a lot of people know what goes on behind the scenes in the world’s most foremost wildlife and conservation organisation. Since their creation in 1961, the WWF has been dedicated to creating a world where both mankind and nature can thrive - together. Sixty years down the line and change is finally starting to take place, albeit on a slow but steadily rising pace. But with several wildlife populations declining in alarming rates, and global warming at an all time high — we still have a long way to go.
In the face of overconsumption, mass consumerism, and the illegal wildlife trade, Georgina Bridge’s commitment to WWF’s mission remains resolute. As Director of Brand & Design at WWF UK, it is Georgina’s mission to create awareness about WWF’s projects; and to inspire people to become instigators of change. We meet Georgina Bridge in the gorgeous Club Room of Artists Residence London. Nestled in the heart of vibrant Pimlico, this unique and quirky boutique hotel served as the perfect backdrop for our interview with Georgina Bridge. In conversation with Georgina, we talk about the WWF’s latest campaigns, Earth Hour, Elephants as landscape architects — and all the little things we can do to ensure our survival in this beautiful blue planet that we call home.
Throughout Art College and into my career, these values have remained a strong driver for everything I do. I use the natural world as a source of inspiration; and think about the life cycles and the impacts of the products we use in our constructed environment. I went to Brunel to study design and innovation. There, we were taught that good design is sustainable design. I believe we can help solve problems by thinking creatively and laterally, and this is especially crucial when applied to conservation issues.
Talk us through your work with the WWF and your most recent campaigns?
Our Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign was my most recent project. Our program’s experts have so much passion about elephants and the emotional bonds and behaviours they have — that are so similar to our own. Elephants feel loss and grieve when they lose one of their own. We are losing over fifty-five elephants a day, as they are killed for their ivory — it’s absolutely horrific. We had to tell this story in a unique way, and from a new perspective — the perspective of the victim. So we used advanced CGI to recreate ivory poaching, witnessed through the eyes of an elephant.
Coming up, we’ve just launched a new online retail offering with sustainable and design-led products. We’ve also just announced an exciting collaboration with Penguin Random House, to publish a ‘top tips’ guide for a sustainable life, which will be launched this Christmas. The Panda and Penguin united to help protect the world!
For 50 years WWF has been the world’s biggest conservation organisation, helping to tackle the world’s growing environmental issues. Tell us about WWF’s strategy and mission?
WWF’s global mission is to create a world where humans and nature thrive. Even back in 1961, our founders pioneered this holistic world view. They not only talked about establishing WWF to protect iconic species, but also about the need to be ‘concerned about the survival of mankind on this planet’.
Today, the issues that the natural world is facing are even more critical. We know from our Living Planet Report that the decline in wildlife populations and crucial habitats is at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate. This isn’t just a crisis for wildlife, it threatens our future too because we rely on clean water, clean soil, and clean air for our health and well-being as well. Our strategy aims to address the fundamental drivers of this, and the solutions to turn things around. We also need to ensure many more people are aware of these issues, and want to do something about them.
Earth Hour is another one of WWF’s amazing global campaigns; outside of Earth Hour what lifestyle changes can we make to minimise our carbon footprint?
This year, we saw Earth Hour as the perfect moment to ask people to make a #PromiseForThePlanet. We invited people to take one small step in their own lives to reduce their environmental footprint. The promises include carrying a reusable coffee cup, saying no to plastic cutlery and straws, eating less meat, and washing our clothes at 30 degrees. These are all examples of small changes that people can easily make in their daily lives at any time. What we want to do is show that small acts do make a difference; and everyone can make changes to live more sustainably.
Tell us about your projects outside of the WWF?
I was deeply affected by the elephant crisis when we were creating the Eye Campaign. Elephants play an essential role in their environment. They are ‘landscape architects’, creating clearings in wooded areas as they move around and feed, which lets new plants grow and forests regenerate naturally. Without elephants, the natural structure and functions of their landscapes would be very different, which would impact the wildlife and people who share that space.
I’m currently in the process of setting up a new initiative to help raise awareness and funds to protect all elephants in the future. It’s going to be quite disruptive and creative in its approach. We are trying to think differently and aim to launch this year — so watch this space!
Today, sustainability is more important than ever, with brands becoming more and more concerned about their carbon footprint. As consumers, what role do we play in the effort to minimise our environmental impact as a species?
We have to think of ourselves as key instigators for change. Just look how the plastic issue, (which is now understood better) is starting to affect our own thinking and the behaviours of retailers. It is all circular. As consumers we can create markets, instigate demands, and have a voice. It doesn’t require massive effort — it’s all about keeping informed and ultimately the benefits will come back to us. We are now in a new epoch, where humans are the most impactful species on our planet and can drive planetary change. That is OUR responsibility.
In the words of my hero Jane Goodall ‘what you do makes a difference; and you have to decide what difference you want to make’.
About the Artists Residence London
With 10 beautifully decorated rooms, the scrumptious culinary delights of the property’s Cambridge Street Kitchen, and the inventive cocktail creations of Clarendon’s Cocktail Cellar; the Artists Residence London is a wonderfully quirky stay for a night (or two) in Central London. The Artists Residence London is located on 52 Cambridge Street. Rooms start at £265 a night.