“You don’t have to be a superhero to save the planet,'' said Bonnie Chia, the Head of Brand for WWF International (World Wildlife Fund for Nature) to people all around the globe. “Every one of us is already a hero to our family, to our friends, to our loved ones,” she adds “And we can even go beyond that and be heroes to the world if we all take action.”
Meet Bonnie, a changemaker who tries to be a hero for her kids and for this world by driving changes in the world of sustainability. As a passionate storyteller and a proactive problem solver, she has spread her wings from Los Angeles to Taipei and Singapore, pursuing a more than 10 years of success in the field of marketing and communications covering advertising, public relations and brand development. From leading top regional and global accounts for FMCG and technology brands like P&G, SK-II, ASUS, Panasonic, etc. in agencies, she has now shifted her focus to the non-profit and social enterprise sector, and is currently looking after the global brand strategy for both the WWF and Earth Hour brand.
Growing up with a significant influence of her mom, Bonnie has always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. By seeing her mom working hard as a teacher and changing students’ lives for the better, she aspire to be an inspiration to her team and spread positive energy to people around her. She has always had a deep calling for making this world a better place for people through inspiring and empowering people to come together to make an impact. After a decade working in the corporate scene while facing numerous rejections from other organizations due to her lack of direct non-profit experiences, she eventually succeed in joining the WWF and Earth Hour global team in late 2012.
First Journey in Earth Hour
Earth Hour is the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, takes place in over 180 countries and territories around the world. “Earth Hour is simple, fun and welcoming – it is an easy first step to acknowledge the pressing environmental issues and start to be more aware and conscious” she said, “And when we are conscious, we will care for our surroundings and environment, and take more actions to protect it”. Unlike what many think that switching off for the hour is just about saving electricity, she clarifies it is a symbolic action – it is to visually show the world that when united, no matter how small the actions may be, we can make a big impact. The movement believes that every single one of us can make a difference, because behind every big impact, it is backed with many small actions. In fact, based on new research, 25 percent of a population can affect a social change – imagine how powerful it is if 100 percent of the population make a change. For Bonnie, Earth Hour is more than just a campaign; it is real people on the ground making countless differences that keep her inspired and hopeful in her everyday job and life. It is a powerful reminder that every single one of us is a part of the community, a part of our one shared home: Earth.
Connecting People to Nature Through Brand Storytelling
Bonnie painted one of her biggest challenges in communicating urgent environmental issues such as climate crisis and the unprecedented loss of nature: the people who are eco-conscious, who work in the environmental sector, who are already supporting and making lifestyle changes understand the urgency of the crisis that our planet currently faces. But, the everyday people – the majority of the mass audience – are disconnected from the importance of protecting nature for our better future. When people think about what’s important to them, they will likely think of the immediate needs such as job, money, food, or family but not so often would they consider nature or the state of our environment as important. However, when asked what we need to survive – it is air, water and food which are all provided by nature. The disconnect between nature and how it is fundamental to our well-being, economy, and happiness is what Bonnie and her team are trying to do – connect people to nature and ask people to speak up for nature.
Hooking people with an emotional approach, Bonnie tells the ‘nature story’ from different angles to engage different group of audiences. From this #NatueMatter video to engage policymakers at the past UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP14 to this interview video of kids sharing about their dream home tugging at viewers’ heartstrings, she is constantly looking for creative ways to connect people to nature.
Consciousness as the First Step to Make Impact
While donating or buying eco-friendly products seem like difficult steps to start making a change, Bonnie mentioned that as a starter, we should shift our mindset first. It is about being conscious and mindful to start doing good. When we become conscious about what’s happening around us, we start to take notice of what isn’t going well and how we can help. Consciousness is the first step to becoming an active citizen – we would be more aware and open to learn about what challenges our community, city, country, region or even the world are facing and find out what can we do about it. When we are conscious – we are curious, we learn, we initiate dialogues, we take actions to make our world a better place and more importantly, we also influence others to join us.
Making the world a better place while being a full-time working mother, it seems that Bonnie has more than enough on the plate to take. But, it is her loved ones that keep her going every day. Her kids, her family, her team. While her kids look up to her as an inspiration and a hero who saves the world, she wants to give a better world to them – and to all of us.
Perhaps what Bonnie stated before is true. Perhaps we don’t need to possess supernatural abilities to become heroes, because when we become conscious to make a change, that’s when we become heroes – both to our loved ones and to this world.
Bonnie Chia was one of the panellists in Global Brand Summit Asia 2019 in Singapore, where thinkers and doers from all around Asia gathered together to design, build, and grow brands that people love.