Four years ago, there was one thing on Adam Holm’s mind: qualifying for the Rio Olympics and competing for a medal. Months of hard training paid off, and Adam qualified. But then the Swedish Olympic committee said no.
Adam was devastated at first – had he risked his health and trained so hard for nothing? But with characteristic optimism he quickly turned the experience into a positive: “This failure opened my eyes. It made me see that I was looking at the world egoistically. Participating in the Olympics, and even winning a medal at the end, would have made no difference for the world or, in the end, for me.”
From sporting star to out-fluencer
Adam decided instead to channel his boundless energy into helping young people learn to love and respect the natural world. “My main source of energy and inspiration has always been nature. Being with friends and family, being outside, and having a good challenge is what drives me.” He realized he could use the fame and influence that came with his sporting success to inspire young people to put down their screens and get outdoors.
“Spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve our memory and increase our quality of life, but kids won’t care about nature unless they get out and form their own connection with it,” says Adam. He set himself a new mission: to be an “out-fluencer” to other young people.
In 2016, Adam gathered a film crew and a team of friends who share his passion for outdoor sports for an adventure-packed journey through the wilds of northern Norway. He followed this with visits to 30 schools around Sweden to take the students out into the forest and talk about his experiences, his love of nature, and the connections between the environment, human behaviour, and human well-being.
Adam first crossed paths with SEI in 2017. Our #TASTEORWASTE campaign with Berghs School of Communication, Stockholm, was looking for young influencers who could use their popular social media channels to spread the word about cutting food waste.
The central idea in #TASTEORWASTE is to challenge young people to dare to eat food past its “best by” date instead of throwing it away, and to trust their own judgement about what is still good to eat. The campaign was developed as part of the 10YFP Sustainable Lifestyles and Education programme, co-led by Sweden through SEI. The 10YFP – the Ten Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production – is a global framework for action to enhance international cooperation and accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production.
Adam did not just use social media, but took it one step further, visiting schools to present the #TASTEORWASTE challenge in person – and helping the campaign to reach half a million young people in Sweden alone.
When it came time for SEI to propose a World Improver of the Month we had no hesitation in nominating Adam. The title of World Improver (världsförbättrare) of the Month is awarded under a national initiative led by the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development (SWEDESD), in which SEI is a partner. It aims to recognize young people who are working hard to move society in a sustainable direction – with a focus on learning. The initiative is a collaboration between a number of organisations working within the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
This year sees Adam planning a new project, staying with three indigenous South American tribes to explore their close relationship with nature and how it affects their stress levels, happiness and sense of community.
SEI would like to offer Adam our heartfelt congratulations on the award, and wish him continued success inspiring young people to build a better world.