Our GYBN family Is devastated and utterly heartbroken to learn that Ghanimat Azhdari, a young Iranian woman, researcher, activist and active GYBN member from Iran and member of the council of the ICCA consortium, was among the 176 victims of Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752, which crashed near Tehran this morning.
Since 2013, Ghanimat had worked for CENESTA (Centre for Sustainable Development), an Iranian non-profit civil society organization and founding member of the ICCA consortium, based in Tehran. The focus of her work at CENESTA was the empowerment of Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPCLs). She was a staunch advocate for the defence of the rights of IPLC. Among others working on a participatory GIS mapping project to better understand ecological resources, plant diversity and ecological trends in IPLC territories.
Most recently, Ghanimat had started a PhD programme on Indigenous-led Conservation and Governance at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada to use her new qualifications to create positive change in Iran and in West Asia.
Ghanimat first came in touch with GYBN as a participant of our Regional Workshop for Asia in Singapore in May 2017. Since then she has actively supported the work of our network and helped to organize the GYBN Regional Workshop for Asia in Hyderabad in October 2018 and support our delegation to COP14 in Egypt.
She has been an invaluable source of wisdom and professional expertise for our network. She has hugely helped our community to better understand and connect with IPLCs, especially in her home country of Iran and in West Asia in general.
Ghanimat was always there when anybody needed help and was never shy of sharing advice or lending a hand. Her colorful personality and can-do attitude was a huge enrichment for our community. Ghanimat was an incredibly generous personality and whenever she noticed somebody feeling down, she would offer a warm hug and would sit to listen until you felt better.
Today we have lost a young woman who had a future full opportunities ahead of her. We have lost a tireless and incorruptible fighter for environmental justice and the rights of IPLCs. We have lost a wonderful friend who was never too tired to cheer you up, no matter how miserable you felt. We have lost a human being who had a full life ahead of her and who passed away far too young.
We are completely devastated and send our sincere condolences to her family, her friends and her colleagues from the ICCA consortium and CENESTA and to everyone who had the privilege of meeting her.
We will miss you Ghanimat.