Radical Listening for Planetary Health
Health In Harmony listens to rainforest communities to identify the local drivers of deforestation and co-design solutions.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
I am 18 years old or older.
Initiative's representative name
Dr. Kinari Webb, MD
Initiative's representative date of birth
January 11, 1972
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
Gunung Palung National Park, Kayong Utara, West Kalimantan, Indonesia | Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park, Melawi, West Kalimantan, Indonesia | Manombo Special Reserve, Farafangana, Madagascar
Website or social media url(s)
www.healthinharmony.org | Instagram.com/HealthInHarmonyNGO | Facebook.com/HealthInHarmonyNGO | LinkedIn.com/company/healthinharmony | Twitter.com/HIHNGO
November / 2005
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
In 1993, Dr. Kinari Webb was an undergrad studying orangutans in the rainforest of Gunung Palung National Park (GPNP) in Borneo. She heard the constant growl of chainsaws felling old-growth hardwoods. Kinari spoke with the illegal loggers. She met a man who’d cut 60 huge trees to pay for his mother’s emergency C-section and a guide with a machete wound. Dozens of loggers told her logging was the only way they could pay for healthcare, which was far away and substandard. So, Kinari attended medical school, then teamed up with Indonesian dentist Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu to hold 400 hours of “Radical Listening” meetings with communities around the park. These meetings led to Health In Harmony’s model of “saving the forest with a stethoscope.”
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
When rainforest communities are forced to choose between protecting the rainforest or their own survival, the rainforest loses. When Health In Harmony (HIH) began in 2007, the communities around GPNP were in deep poverty with poor healthcare access and the rainforest was being rapidly destroyed. Without access to healthcare and alternative livelihoods, these communities were not able to live in balance with their rainforest ecosystem. This is true of rainforest communities around the world.
3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We ask rainforest communities what they need to live in balance with the rainforest. The community identifies the root causes of deforestation as well as the solutions. We then co-design the solutions for rapid human and health impact.
In Indonesian Borneo, the drivers of illegal logging are lack of accessible healthcare and limited alternative livelihoods. With sister organization, ASRI, HIH provides healthcare through a medical center and mobile clinics. An incentive system provides discounted care to communities that have reduced or stopped illegal logging. Patients can pay for healthcare with non-cash means, such as seedlings used for reforestation. HIH provides training in organic farming, financial planning, and entrepreneurial skills so former loggers can pursue alternative livelihoods. We also operate a conservation and health education program for children and adults.
In Madagascar, we work with the communities around the Manombo Special Reserve to provide mobile health clinics and training in sustainable rice farming. We will soon begin work with communities in the Xingu Basin of Brazil to protect and preserve this critical cornerstone of the Amazon rainforest.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
Health In Harmony’s most innovative approach to conservation is a community-centered approach that leverages local expertise to complex needs that address the root causes of rainforest degradation. We leverage traditional wisdom and contextual knowledge to guide our interventions. Radical Listening, in which we treat the community members from all walks of life as the experts has been the main component of Health In Harmony’s success. People in the community understand the environment in which they live as well as solutions to tackle large multi-factorial issues such as rainforest conservation. We use their advice and knowledge and put it into action along with modern, best practice conservation techniques.
5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?
Our core collaborations are with in-country sister organizations, such as ASRI, and local community members, who co-design conservation solutions through Radical Listening. We run reciprocal exchange programs for doctors at local hospitals. We partner with the conservation NGO Yayasan Palung, which joins our mobile clinics to provide environmental education in remote villages, and International Animal Rescue, which releases rescued orangutans into a national park protected by HIH’s programs. We collaborate with national park offices to determine reforestation activities, and with government health districts to improve vaccination and contraception access. We work with universities, such as Tanjung Pura University in Borneo where we advise three undergraduate research interns per year, and Yale Medical School, where we offer young Indonesian doctors four-month observerships. We collaborate with Stanford University to develop monitoring and evaluation protocols and analyze data.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
Since HIH began, the number of logging households around Gunung Palung has decreased by 90%. We’ve purchased 143 chainsaws from loggers, keeping an estimated 20,100 old-growth trees standing, and supported 47 loggers' transitions into alternative livelihoods. The ASRI Medical Center serves 125,000 low-income people, resulting in a 67% decrease in infant mortality. Patients have paid 344,000,000 IDR of healthcare costs with non-cash payments including 41,755 rainforest seedlings spanning 59 species. We’ve reforested 130 hectares including Sedehan Orangutan Corridor, which reconnects two fragments of the park; camera traps have recorded orangutans, Malayan civets, short-tailed mongoose, mouse deer and leopard cats using it! An additional 21,000 hectares of secondary forest have regrown. Our programs protect 79 million tons of carbon. By reducing hunting and logging in Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park, we’ve supported our partner, IAR, to translocate 36 orangutans back to the wild.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
We are developing a dynamic website to convey the results of remote sensing monitoring to users who can inspect the AI-generated measures of Above-ground Carbon Density stored in rainforests around the world. Users will be able to zoom in on the map, view organizations that are supporting rainforest communities, and evaluate their impact. We will launch the website using Health In Harmony rainforest sites and will add other organizations as we expand. Our goal is to link community-determined solutions around the world with global citizens who can help meet those needs through donations of skills (i.e. training healthcare providers), funding, or market-based solutions (i.e. water filters).
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?
We work in close collaboration with various stakeholders including our sister organization, ASRI, the sub-national government, National Parks, and the Ministry of Health. We also work to educate and inspire key national figures to work collaboratively for planetary health outcomes.
When we provide healthcare to rainforest communities and a just transition for loggers into alternative livelihoods, we not only help the local community but people all over the world. These rainforests are the lungs of the earth, absorbing vast amounts of carbon. When the rainforest communities are thriving and healthy, the earth is healthier and people around the world benefit.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
We have historically funded our programs primarily through foundation and government grants and individual donations. While this has been successful to date and allowed us to grow and expand programming, we currently are working to diversify our funding sources for long-term sustainability. We have recently implemented a carbon offset program as well as a number of social enterprises to diversify revenue, including a Planetary Health travel and exchange program. We are working to bring in additional funding through corporate partnerships and blended finance investments. Our hope is that we can scale our model through the emerging carbon markets.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
HIH has a staff of 7 full-time employees (six of which are women) with decades of experience working for international NGOs tackling some of the world’s most pressing planetary health challenges. The board is comprised of doctors, conservationists, and business leaders from several different countries. We prioritize hiring local community members whenever possible. We also prioritize women for leadership roles and both of the programs in Indonesia and Madagascar are led by women.
11. How did you hear about this challenge?
12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.
By protecting rainforests we are protecting vital habitat for Bornean orangutans in Indonesia and lemurs in Indonesia as well as other endangered species. Five years after planting seedlings in our reforestation corridor in Indonesian Borneo, camera traps caught Bornean orangutans using it to cross between two sections of the park. In addition, by providing access to high-quality healthcare and alternative livelihood training for former loggers, we have protected a highly biodiverse rainforest. According to Stanford University, these interventions led to a 90% decrease in logging households, stabilization of primary forest loss, and the sequestration of $53 million worth of carbon.
13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.
Pak Saliadi recently handed over his chainsaw as a part of his commitment to no longer cut down trees in and around Gunung Palung National Park. He has been financially dependent on illegal logging since the 2000s. Now he lay down his chainsaw and transitioned to a sustainable livelihood through ASRI’s Chainsaw Buyback program.
He told us that he had been illegally logging in order to pay for his young son’s healthcare. Following a medical emergency, Pak Saliadi took his son to seek treatment at the Ketapang Hospital. His condition then required almost four more months of care. The burden of the medical bills and at-home healthcare left Pak Saliadi with no option but to log the rainforest.
Pak Saliadi’s story is far from unique. It’s exactly this type of situation that brought Health In Harmony to Borneo. Thanks to the Chainsaw Buyback Program and other programs like it, the communities living Gunung Palung National Park have seen a 90% decrease in logging households.
14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?
Others are working with local communities to address the deforestation of the rainforest. However, very few allow the communities to come up with the solutions to solve the problem. Also, our program is unique in bringing a planetary approach – addressing both the health of people and the health of the ecosystem together.
15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?
2019 AZA “William G. Conway International Conservation Award”
2019 Finalist for the Equator Prize
2017 Classy Award nominee
2014 Classy Award nominee
Ashoka Social Entrepreneur Fellowship
Mulago Foundation Rainer Arnhold Fellow
2008 Mongabay “Innovation in Conservation Award”
16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.
individual donations or gifts 54%
foundation or NGO grants 34%
corporate contributions 1%
grants or contracts 5%
earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.) 4%
17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?
If Health In Harmony wins the challenge, it will allow us to expand our work to teach others how to use our Radical Listening methodology to work with local communities in highly biodiverse ecosystems throughout the world. In addition, it would allow us to continue our work on replicating and scaling our model so that we can reach our goal to protect 50 million hectares of rainforest around the world by 2030.
18. Pitch-video (finalists only)