CEO, Rainforest Partnership
Niyanta Spelman is the visionary founder and CEO of Rainforest Partnership, an Austin, Texas headquartered international non-profit focused on rainforest protection and regeneration. Rainforest Partnership works directly with indigenous and local rainforest communities in creating sustainable economies that take away the incentive to have to cut or burn down the forest.
A winding path took Niyanta from Tanzania, India, London, and finally to Texas. Her work spans 5 continents with over three decades of experience working in government and the private sector, including environmental and state agencies, London’s first lobbying firm, running a management consultancy, serving on nonprofit boards (local, state, national), and leading a chamber of commerce,
This path led her to Ecuador and Peru in 2008, to conduct extensive research and engage in meaningful dialogue to understand the root cause of deforestation. Her discovery? It’s the economics. People in rainforest communities need income to support themselves, and up to then their only option was to cut down the forest or sell their land. For them, the rainforest was worth less standing than cleared. She realized that the answer would be found by flipping that economic equation—to create the viable rainforest economies in partnership with these communities. This “aha” moment became the foundation of Rainforest Partnership’s innovative project model, one that answers an economic problem with an economic solution.
Niyanta’s perseverance, vision, and contagious energy now creates global partnerships that helps protect tropical rainforests. She leads a dedicated team in Peru and Texas, and elsewhere in fulfilling Rainforest Partnership’s mission.
To amplify the impact of our rainforest community based projects, Rainforest Partnership created and launched World Rainforest Day In 2017. Now, every June 22 is a day of collaborative action and focused attention for rainforests. With over 75 partners on 6 continents, World Rainforest Day now sees ever increasing awareness and actions globally.