SRI LANKA / NETHERLANDS
My love for nature began in my childhood, as I spent most of my adolescence in the lush garden brought to life by my grandfather – who interestingly, was also an economist attached to the UN. At an early stage in life itself, he showed me by example that economics and nature need not be competing forces. In fact, economics should serve to nurture nature, and all its inhabitants. Yet, as I followed my grandfather’s footsteps into economics, the world beyond the garden diverged significantly from his teachings. The very funds I was helping disburse from investors to businesses, were also rapidly destroying our planet.
It broke my heart to write boastfully about how the quarterly profit of a mining company contributed to the GDP, knowing fully well that every cent of it was earned by ravaging the planet I loved. One question persistently haunted me throughout my 13-year career: why do we, as a species, consciously harm the very place we all call home? After all, Earth is merely a shared abode for all humanity. Destroying it consciously is the equivalent of intentionally setting fire to our own house.
I finally found the answer after coming across a quote by the evolutionary biologist S.J. Gould, who said “we cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well – for we will not fight to save what we do not love.”
We harm nature because we do not love it, and we do not love it because we no longer even know it! When was the last time you experienced the serenity of a forest? How many of us even have a garden anymore? Urbanization has alienated us from our roots. Realizing this, was the moment I found my purpose.
Using my skills as a researcher and an artist, I now try to take nature to as many people as I can. As a start, I quit my job and moved to The Netherlands to learn from a Master’s in Sustainability. With a research paper that will soon be published, I demonstrated that it is still possible for private real estate companies to take nature to marginalized communities and still be profitable. This is because I dream of a day that every child will get the opportunity to experience and love nature, just as I did in my grandfather’s garden. And I intend to do more research on learning from indigenous peoples to reconnect with nature and incorporate these insights into a new economic vision.
As a musician, I am creating instrumental soundscapes, including a self-produced track that will depict my country's largest rainforest, the Sinharaja Forest. This will serve as a link for humans to form a bond with an ecosystem, even if you cannot visit it in person.