Paul Butler, Rare

President and CEO of Rare, Brett Jenks, nominated senior vice president Paul Butler for the Outstanding Individual Award. Here he explains the reasons why...

Paul Butler is not your average conservationist.

Where some list environmental problems and use fear tactics to drive change, Paul has dedicated his 40-year conservation career to capturing hearts and minds of communities around the world to inspire them to adopt environmentally-responsible behaviours. Paul’s unique conservation strategies have found a place in more than 300 communities in over 50 countries. His work builds on his philosophy that while people are the root cause of most environmental degradation, they can also be the solution. This belief led Paul to develop Pride campaigns, which use marketing to inspire people to take pride in their natural resources.

In 1977, Paul first utilised this innovative approach to bring the St. Lucia parrot back from the brink of extinction, after its numbers had dwindled to 150 birds. Paul traveled from his childhood home in London to St. Lucia at 21 years old. He teamed up with the island’s forestry department to design and execute an outreach campaign that informed local people about the parrot’s decline. He worked steadily to forge an emotional connection between St. Lucians and this rare bird.

Paul Butler, Rare

The sustainable behaviours imprinted on the community remain long after the Pride campaign concludes

The campaign used marketing techniques borrowed from the private sector, “stamping” the St. Lucia parrot onto the island community’s very sense of identity. Those marketing techniques worked: after infusing the bird’s plight and value into local music, making it omnipresent in signage, stirring conversation in local radio spots, and more, Paul and the forestry department rallied enough public support for new laws and new respect for the St. Lucia parrot. Once nearly extinct, the St. Lucia parrot now numbers over 1,500 and is the national bird.

In Paul’s St. Lucia campaign, the first Pride campaign was born. He brought this model to Rare in 1988. Since then, Paul has refined it to become more organic by training local leaders to undertake their own Pride campaigns. The social marketing education these campaign leaders receive enables them to go beyond raising conservation awareness to producing marked behaviour change. The sustainable behaviour that s/he has imprinted on the community will remain long after the Pride campaign concludes.

 Paul Butler is a phenomenal example of how a single person can initiate and inspire tremendous progress

Today, the Pride methodology goes beyond enhancing a targeted species and its habitat, evolving to support innovative solutions for sustainable watersheds, coastal fisheries, organic agriculture, and more. In instilling greater community-wide respect for nature and inspiring the adoption of more sustainable behaviours, Pride campaigns benefit not only local nature, but also the very lives of those making the important changes. Pride campaigns empower fishers, farmers, and other community members who often rely directly on the environment for livelihood, food security, and protection against the effects of climate change.

In essence, Paul Butler has been a phenomenal example of how a single person can initiate and inspire tremendous progress in conservation and international development while respecting the culture and sensibilities of communities.

The Outstanding Individual Award is part of the Bond International Development Awards 2017. See the full nominee list.