The sustainability consultant and founder of The Weird and Wild, Woo Qiyun breaks down the complexities of climate change with colourful visuals that are as entertaining as they are enlightening.
WHAT DOES THE TERM “GAME CHANGER” MEAN TO YOU?
A game changer is someone who is ready to stand up to advocate for things that matter to them and their community.
WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES YOU FEEL ARE VITAL TO BE A GAME CHANGER?
Introspection, resilience, and adaptability.
HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOU’VE PLAYED YOUR PART TO BE ONE IN THE INDUSTRY YOU’RE IN?
My ethos has always been to use what I know to create accessible content like visuals and comics that talk about climate change so that people don’t get left behind in the sustainability movement. I hope that my work has helped in awareness and also enables people to be equipped with the resources and knowledge to engage in climate work. I also like to think that the fact that The Weird and Wild continues to grow and reach more people is a validation of my work!
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS AND MAJOR CHALLENGES OF THAT JOURNEY? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME EACH HURDLE?
It’s been a long six years of trying new ways to communicate and advocate, be it creating infographics, comics, physical collaterals, installations, and more. A highlight would be the opportunities to meet amazing people from all around the world and in our region who are working on climate issues. My induction into the National Geographic Society this year was a super exciting opportunity for me to do more of that.
As for challenges, sustainability has a steep learning curve not just topically but also navigating the public and private sphere. It’s tricky and often tiring to think of the many ways to communicate with a myriad of audiences about a billion topics. I’m extremely grateful to be surrounded by my community and supported by family and friends who provide a safe space to try, fail and succeed!
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR MOTIVATIONS AND YOUR FIELD THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY?
Sustainability is a field that brings with it many conflicting emotions. The reality is a lot of doom and gloom but also much joy and happiness. Learning to balance all these emotions is crucial not just to tackle the problem, but to patiently contend with the reality that we live in so that we don’t burn out while urgently moving forward. I am motivated by bright colours and fun, so I’m constantly seeking ways to try new storytelling mediums and create experiences to remind us to thrive in a burning world.
I sometimes feel an immense amount of guilt when engaging in climate work where I often feel like I’m not doing enough or not producing enough content. I’m learning to recognise that I’m more than the work I put out and finding balance with every aspect of my life is key to ensuring that I do my best work on The Weird and Wild.
WHAT ARE SOME CHANGES YOU’D LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
I want science communication to be seen and valued as a vital piece of the puzzle in tackling climate change. This means dedicating budgets and resources for us to do this work. I also want people to be able to talk about the complexity of sustainability issues and aspire for the industry, marketers and communicators to band together to find ways to tackle the very serious issue of greenwashing. I hope that my work in advocating for sustainability and science communications can bring us a healthier future.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE?
I have a vision of what an ideal future and society looks like which is a just and sustainable one for all and hope that the work I do in whatever aspect of my life can get us there. That vision informs the purpose of why I do what I do.
WHAT SHOULD THE NEXT GENERATION OF GAME CHANGERS ASPIRE TO BE?
They need to be bold and bring all of themselves to tackle the many challenges we still have in society. We need everybody’s unique point of view!
PHOTOGRAPHY ZANTZ HAN
STYLING GREGORY WOO
ART DIRECTION MARISA XIN
HAIR AND MAKEUP SHA SHAMSI, USING KMS AND CHANEL BEAUTY
STYLING ASSISTANTS YULIA SEE AND VANESSA GRACE NG
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