WHAT MATTERS TO ME

I am a scientist with a PhD in ecological chemistry, and full-time international evaluator, at present based near Geneva in Switzerland. I work across the world, from local to global level, in spaces that connect evaluation, science and (transformational) development. Before the pandemic I used to travel on long-distance flights at least once per month.

South Africa is my home. I am an Afrikaner, member of the first white tribe that explicitly described themselves as part of Africa. My forefathers came to South Africa from France in 1690 and from Scotland in 1810. The remarkable history of my family, my country and my continent has shaped me, and continues to have a strong influence on my work.

I am driven by the need for all of us to create, with a sense of urgency, a better world in this era of the Anthropocene:

  • a world where we live in respectful harmony with the whole community of life on Earth in all its forms, consuming just what we need for our basic wellbeing;
  • a world where all lives have equal value, and where everyone has at least one chance to live with dignity;
  • a world where dominant narratives about ‘development’ are replaced by more truthful ones, based on a systems view of life and a more equal distribution of power between societies.

I cherish love and beauty, both in my work and in my personal life.

I love innovating, finding solutions, working with young people, debating, and being philosophical – while having fun in the process!

I have always read widely. I am intrigued by how the world works, and how it impacts on what we do. For several years I took this interest to extremes, drawing daily from 15 different media, investigative journalism outlets and research studies from around the world in an effort to understand ‘reality’. This phase has passed, but I continue to use and deepen my knowledge of the dynamics that shape our world.

I believe in the integration of the contributions of modern science with the different healing and other traditions that have survived over the centuries despite the onslaught of rational thinking and narrow notions of the scientific method. We still have much to discover. How can we reject what we cannot yet observe, measure or understand?

I therefore also believe that we should have a much more holistic understanding of health, life and our connection with the Universe. Among others we need to respect the mind-body-context connection that science has belatedly started to prove, including the impact of our food and lifestyles on our wellbeing and on the ecosystems on which all life depends.

I am one of the most fortunate people in the world. How can I then not love life, and live with gratitude?

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