You don’t have to be a Nobel prizewinner to create ideas that will contribute to planet Earth’s success. Ellen MacArthur was a young sailor before she founded an organisation that is modelling a new vision for a circular economy, and Boyd Varty is using fireside stories from his wilderness experiences to export and grow an African idea of Ubuntu.

Here are three TED talks from people who are demonstrating how ideas, photos and storytelling from the natural world are building bridges to a future that is more thoughtful. In David Griffin’s talk, don’t miss the incredibly funny story of an interaction between a photographer and a leopard seal, which must rank as one of the most entertaining wildlife “connections” of the last ten years.

1. Dame Ellen MacArthur holds the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe. As she tried to outrun a powerful storm in the south seas (she says the closest people to her at the time were in the European space station), how did she connect her battle for survival with the future of sustainable living and the concept of a circular economy?

2. David Griffin is the Director of Photography for National Geographic. He uses a number of exceptional photos to demonstrate how photography of the natural world exposes a broader audience to the reality of our planet’s present and future. David also demonstrates how amateur photographers from around the world are joining in online and contributing to a collective story.

3. Only Boyd Varty can see the humour in an almost deadly crocodile attack. Many of you will have seen his TED talk, filmed shortly after the passing of Nelson Mandela, but if you haven’t, then spend some time being inspired by his discussion on “Ubuntu”, using his memories of his late friend and colleague, Solly Mhlongo, as well as the moving story of a deformed elephant.

If you would like to contribute a photo to the National Geographic collection, you can do so via Your Shot.

We would also love you to help us find more videos in the general category “Connecting Wilderness to a More Thoughtful Future.” You can leave a link in the comments section below, or you can email our blog editor on

Written by Ryan James, Londolozi blog contributor

About the Author

Ryan James


I am the Head of Development at Londolozi's not-for-profit partner organisation, the Good Work Foundation (GWF). GWF focuses on education, in particular helping people living in rural areas to connect to a new, digital Africa and all of its opportunities.

View Ryan's profile


on 3 TED Talks that Connect Wilderness with a More Thoughtful Future

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marinda drake

Awesome inspiring blog James

Kate Collins

Fantastic Ryan! Thank you for sharing these inspiring talks with us.

Jill Grady

I love your blogs Ryan, and this one is fantastic! The TED talks you’ve noted here are very interesting and inspiring…I enjoyed hearing each of them. I’ve also listened to Boyd’s TED talk a few times now and love it…very emotional of course, right after hearing the news of the passing of the great Nelson Mandela, but also beautiful in the message of Ubuntu. Thanks again for sharing these with us.

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