Gita Syahrani learned to love nature from her grandmother, an accomplished professional and avid gardener. “Living with her, my daily task since kindergarten was to water our garden,” she recalls. “She always told me that nature is kind enough to let humans live on earth and provide all the answers, so we need to say thank you every single day.”
That reverence for nature has guided Gita’s entire career—from her early days as a lawyer, when she created the first climate investment division at a corporate law firm in Indonesia, through a series of roles working with public, private, and nonprofit sector leaders to protect critical ecosystems and promote sustainable alternatives to resource extraction and plantations.
Demonstrate an alternative economic pathway for Indonesia built on high-quality value-added products and services deriving from sustainable nature-based innovations.
A natural convener, Gita has always emphasized collaboration and collective action in her work. As head of the Sustainable District Association (Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari) Secretariat from 2017 until recently, she convened a network of diverse global, national, and subnational partners to support nine Indonesian district members of the association in reaching their targets of saving at least 5.5 million hectares of forest and two million hectares of peat by 2030 through innovative ways that increase the welfare of at least one million families. That work led to her being named, in 2020, the first Indonesian Henry Arnhold Fellow of the Mulago Foundation, which recognizes and supports leaders with scalable conservation solutions.
To scale up that work and advance a new, nature-based vision for Indonesia’s economic future, Gita also led the convening of a new Earth-Centered Economic Coalition (Koalisi Ekonomi Membumi), which aims to develop a “proof of concept” for the bioeconomy by enabling the launch of 100 nature-based businesses in forest- and peatland-rich districts and provinces by 2026. Gita’s 2023 Climate Breakthrough Award will support collective action to advance those efforts, as well as national and subnational policy advocacy and a public awareness campaign.
“If we succeed, we will have excited leaders, thriving entrepreneurs, and a policy umbrella to integrate nature-based innovation and bioeconomy approaches into the development plans of all these jurisdictions,” Gita says.
Indonesia’s Long Term Development Plan (RPJP) is set to expire in 2025, so this is a crucial time to build momentum. Many studies have pointed to the multiple benefits of protecting and restoring ecosystems; now Gita wants concrete success stories.
Through her work, Gita has already built strong networks and relationships and earned international acclaim. In 2019, the Asia Society included her among its Asia 21 Young Leaders. Most recently, the HEAL Fisheries Project she supported with Alam Siak Lestari, a youth-led community-based enterprise in Riau that is protecting peatlands by creating value-added products from fish, won the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2021 Solve challenge on resilient ecosystems. In 2023, Gita was selected as an Ashoka Fellow from Indonesia.
“I am excited to hold the space for policy advocacy based on success stories,” Gita says. “I want to ignite the imagination of my fellow Indonesians, particularly Generation Z, so that they can picture a future with a more regenerative and equitable economic growth model.”
Gita Syahrani is an advocate and convener for collective action on sustainability with experience in the public and private sectors, civil society, and movement-building. She currently heads the Executive Board of the Earth-Centered Economic Coalition (Koalisi Ekonomi Membumi).
Gita is trained as a corporate lawyer with a proven history of driving impactful, sustainable initiatives through public policy and collective action. Senior roles at organizations such as Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari and the World Resources Institute saw her shaping strategic partnerships and designing collective climate action. From 2012–2015, Gita worked to design, negotiate, and finalize Indonesia’s planning and funding documents in accordance with its national REDD+ strategy. REDD, which stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, is a framework that was established as part of the Paris Agreement.
Gita has an LLB in international and environmental law from the University of Padjadjaran in Bandung, Indonesia; an LLM in climate change and energy law and policy, with distinction, from the Center of Energy, Petroleum, and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom; and an executive master’s in systems thinking and sustainable development from the MIT Sloan School of Management, IDEAS (Innovative Dynamic Education and Action for Sustainability) Asia Pacific.