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Four Elements Conservation – The Start of a New Era

Four Elements Conservation – The Start of a New Era

After seven years of dedicated environmental fundraising and educational initiatives which have unified local communities and empowered the youth, non-profit organisation, Four Elements Conservation NPC will be ending its journey with a final informal and friendly ocean swim in celebration of World Ocean’s Day.

Established by Durban’s Olivia Taylor at the age of 14, Four Elements Conservation has met its mandate of providing a platform for community engagement, a voice for the youth and encouraging support and contribution from more than 500 people who’ve participated in the Four Elements Ocean Challenge.

“I have been working in environmental fundraising and communication for nearly half my life, starting at the age of 11, raising more than R500 000 for conservation efforts over this time,” said Taylor, now 21. “I set up Four Elements Conservation at 14 during which time, as CEO, I have organised four swimming events, a social entrepreneurship training camp and merchandising, and I have represented the country in a number of international youth and environmental roles. This journey has afforded me immense personal growth, invaluable experience and has acted as a stepping stone for the next phase of my contribution to the environment.”

The young social entrepreneur has recently taken on a new role as a member of the United Nation’s World Ocean’s Day Youth Advisory Council. This notable position will see Taylor assisting in expanding the reach of this important day, offering unique perspectives and recommendations for ocean conservation while working with fellow members – represented by more than 100 countries.

In addition to this high-profile role, Taylor is currently in her third year at Stellenbosch University, with studies demanding a significant portion of time and energy. She explained the decision to close the Four Elements Conservation chapter of her life was extremely difficult, but she did not view it as an end, but rather a start for new adventures and contributions on a larger scale.

“My fiduciary duty as a director of Four Elements Conservation demands commitment primarily to the organisation, making it difficult to engage with bigger organisations because of potential conflict with Four Elements,” explained Taylor.  “I believe that non-profit companies need to achieve scale if they are to both make a significant impact and adequately cover their costs.  If you think about it, working with the United Nations gives me a far bigger soapbox than a small non-profit company in Durban. While it has been an amazing phase, by acknowledging these limitations and moving on liberates me to do far bigger things and make a far more valuable contribution.”

“Four Elements Conservation still has cash in the bank,” says Olivia.  “My objective is to develop a unique and engaging ocean conservation initiative with an environmentally responsible corporate partner.  I will contribute seed funding of over R100 000 and offer my energy, passion, experience and time.  In return, the corporate partner will contribute some of its internal resources and market reach, and commit to matching my seed contribution for an approved initiative.  Together we will do something truly innovative and amazing.”

She said that, through her role as CEO of Four Elements Conservation, she has grown in confidence and reached more people than she’d previously thought possible, opening up doors for her to take up even more significant roles that positively contribute to greater environmental and social change.

Following her studies, Taylor intends to gain overseas experience, eventually bringing these skills and insights back home for tangible solutions to local problems.  “The story of Four Elements is far from over. The legacy will continue to inspire young people and to tell a story of how a little bit of passion can go a long way. I feel the candle has been lit and that flame can never be extinguished, rather passed onto others who have been touched by Four Elements, inspired by its passion and desire to continue the work in ocean conservation.”

Four Elements Conservation will celebrate all the work done over the years – as well as the Indian Ocean and its inhabitants – with a final, informal ocean swim over the weekend of 5 and 6 May 2018, the details of which will be advised once confirmed.


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