Bethan John, Freelance Journalist

Bethan is a freelance journalist, filmmaker and communications expert, specialising in climate justice, Indigenous rights and biodiversity conservation. For over 10 years, she has worked alongside conservationists and communities across Latin America, leading award-winning expeditions that investigate and report on environmental and human rights abuses.

In recognition of this work, Bethan was invited to become a member of The Explorers Club in 2021; chosen as one of the 16 extraordinary women of this new Millennium in honour and celebration of the original 16 outstanding female members inducted into the club in 1981. The same year, she won the Scientific Exploration Society Explorer Award for Inspirational & Scientific Trailblazing.

In 2018, Bethan directed their first award-winning documentary, Voices on the Road, about Indigenous rights in the Amazon. It has been screened at film festivals worldwide, including Tampere Short Film festival, and is now available to stream online via WaterBear – the first free video on demand platform dedicated to the future of our planet. Bethan successfully raised funds to produce the documentary and impact campaign through a variety of sources, from securing multi-year grants to launching a successful crowdfunding campaign. Her multimedia work has been published in leading international news outlets, such as Al Jazeera, Mongabay and The Ecologist, exploring the complex social, political, economic, environmental and climate issues facing communities living in some of the most biodiverse places on Earth.

As a communications specialist, Bethan is highly experienced at raising significant funds for projects and promoting them to a worldwide audience, through online and in-person engagement campaigns. She has worked for numerous international conservation organisations – such as Birdlife International, the World Land Trust and Synchronicity Earth – to raise awareness and funding for their work to protect biodiversity and tackle climate breakdown. She is also an experienced guest speaker and educator, having been invited by influential institutions – such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Royal Geographical Society – to present talks on environmental, climate and Indigenous rights issues.

Bethan is passionate about leading and facilitating educational courses and workshops; in 2017-18 she created and ran a three-month experiential media internship at a research centre in the Peruvian Amazon, providing skills and mentorship for early career starters so they can build experience and expertise within the highly competitive media and conservation sector. In 2020, she further developed her expertise through training with InsightShare on Participatory Video (PV) workshop facilitation. PV is a powerful tool to bring groups of people together to explore issues, voice concerns, build skills, empower and communicate their needs to decision makers through community-made films. 

Bethan’s next up-coming independent project, Defensoras, will launch in November 2022 and reports on the plight of Indigenous women across Bolivia who are a fighting to protect their ancestral homes from exploitation and destruction. The multimedia project explores why female Indigenous empowerment is central to our global fight against ecological and climate collapse. Bethan said:

Through working in the conservation sector and media industry, I have witnessed how systems of colonialism and patriarchy continue to prevail as mechanisms of oppression. I have become aware, over years of first-hand experience, that the most impactful and equitable way of protecting our natural world and fighting climate breakdown is to uphold the rights of Indigenous women.