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Gary Waterworth Owen - Founder of the ResponseABILITY Alliance and CEO of Village Impact CIC
Gary’s experience as an entrepreneur includes growing a small design agency into a successful furniture and interior design consultancy, construction company and direct marketing agency. In the early eighties he formed the Colourplast Group (long before the ‘Green/Eco business’ revolution) which recycled alluvial diamond and marble mining waste in South West Africa (now Namibia), into architectural finishes, which were applied domestically and commercially throughout South Africa.
Invited in 1992 to conduct seminars and workshops on Industry and the Environment at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, he was inspired to form The ResponseAbility Alliance with the aim and objective to Get REAL - Responsible and Environmentally Aware Leadership and help individuals and companies to enhance their abilities to effectively respond to the challenges of the 21st Century, especially addressing the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) , in particular Goal 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy.
He is a sought after speaker and TEDx Speaker Allumni. His talks and workshops on: Creativity and Innovation, Reinventing Management and Rebooting Leadership, Responsibility and Sustainability, Community Based Development and Nature Conservation and Responsible Tourism reflect on personal accounts and experiences never fail to inspire and motivate his audiences - whether students or corporate executives. Gary also worked closely with his good friend Stephen Covey on delivering leadership training programmes on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in the UK and in Uganda with ResponseAbility Alliance ally Stone Kyambadde
Along with luminaries such as Barack Obama, Oprah, Denis Waitley, Jack Canfield, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rudy Giuliani, Pope John Paul, Tom Peters, Mark Victor Hansen, Warren Bennis and Bob Proctor to name a few, Gary is a contributing author to the 2008 publication of: Responsibility 911 - An anthology that makes a strong and diversified case for the role responsibility plays in society.
Gary was born and raised in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). His home town of Bulawayo, abuts the outstanding Matopos National Park at the edge of the Kalahari Desert. This landscape along with the Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park to the North, and the mountains of the Vumba, Chimanimani, and Inyanga to the East, not only inspired him as an artist but helped him draw on the richness and cultural diversity of southern Africa. It seduced him into a world of exploration, creativity, and an unrelenting passion for adventure. His time as a soldier in the early seventies equipped him well for the numerous personal development and leadership expeditions he has undertaken since in Kenya and The Sinai Gulf to Gulf Expedition.
Inspired from an early age by the Artist/Explorer Thomas Baines – who amongst many expeditions, accompanied David Livingstone’s exploration of the Zambezi, Gary pursued his own natural talent as a painter. His paintings have been exhibited in London, Washington, Paris, Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg and have been acquired by prominent private collectors. Proceeds from a number of his exhibitions have been used to help support wilderness conservation, responsible tourism projects, Artists with AIDS and arts and crafts projects for the peoples of Namibia and Zimbabwe, as well as the conservation of wildlife in KwaZulu-Natal. After a number of expeditions to live with and ‘capture on canvas’ the Himba in Kaokoland and the Bushman in the Kalahari , Gary initiated Culture Conscious Conservation © and promoted the concept at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1997. In 1999 he initiated the First Agenda 21 Indaba on Culture Conscious Conservation in Transfrontier Conservation Areas - held in Matopos, Zimbabwe and attended by delegates from 5 African countries. The conference was supported by CESVI, the Biodiversity Foundation for Africa, the Institute of Environmental Studies, and funded by Cooperazione Italiana and the Peace Parks Foundation. and was invited to present the projects at the World Travel and Tourism Council / Earth Council and UN World Tourism Organisation - Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry Conferences in Victoria Falls-Zimbabwe and Jakarta-Indonesia.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society,and Artists for Peace Justice and Civil Liberties. He is a Senior Associate of The Centre for Sustainable Design based at UCA / the University for the Creative Arts - Farnham, Surrey and serves on the International Honorary Advisory Council of the Statue of Responsibility Foundation - USA.