World Okapi Day, Enterprise Green Communities, Climate Champ–José Sarukhán Kermez

by | Oct 18, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

World Okapi Day, Enterprise Green Communities, Climate Champion, José Sarukhán Kermez



Happy world Okapi day! The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission established World Okapi Day on October 18th back in 2016 as a way to raise awareness of this endangered species. The okapi is the giraffe’s only living relative and is found only in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Perhaps one of the most enigmatic large mammal species in the world, the okapi was described by western science in 1902 yet is relatively unknown even today.  

You gotta check out photos of this wonderful animal. An okapi (spelled o-k-a-p-i) has got the snout of a giraffe, the shiny fur of a donkey, and the markings of a zebra on its hind legs. The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP) works in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect the natural habitat of the endangered okapi and indigenous Mbuti pygmies living in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. Designated as a World Heritage Site, the Reserve is one of the most biologically diverse areas in all of Africa. Its model programs in sustainability and stewardship promote the viability of the region’s biodiversity and survival of native species like the okapi, which is under increasing threat from habitat destruction and illegal human activities.

Which is why celebrating World Okapi Day matters to us. By investing in people (the indigenous Mbuti pygmies who live in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, the Okapi Conservation Project is protecting the okapi and its habitat. Check out the video of “first-ever footage of okapi in the wild” by clicking on the link in the Deeper Dive section of this story at




With 40 years of experience in addressing America’s massive shortage of affordable rental homes, Enterprise is a national nonprofit that does– solutions, capital and community development – under one roof. The vision of enterprise is a country where home and community are steppingstones to more. It’s mission is to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging, and platforms for resilience and upward mobility for all.

In 2004 Enterprise launched its Green Communities program. According to its website, it’s the only national green building program created with and for the affordable housing sector. Launched in 2004, the comprehensive program has evolved to address the growing threats of our changing climate. What hasn’t shifted is our focus on residents’ health and well-being. Five themes are central to the 2020 Criteria:

  • Integrative design approaches that give residents a voice in the design process
  • A path to zero energy with strategies to help all developments move closer to zero emissions
  • Healthy living practices such as ample ventilation and healing-centered design
  • Water standards that promote efficiency and protect against lead poisoning
  • Resilience requirements that prepare homes for local climate hazards

According to the Enterprise website, Nearly 130,000 affordable developments nationwide have met Green Communities certification to date – creating a healthy, sustainable and affordable home for over 1 million people, Also new Green Communities-certified homes jointly save owners and residents over $10 million in energy costs and prevent nearly 28,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Finally Green Communities-certified homes have collectively cut close to 15 billion gallons of water – enough to fill over 22,000 Olympic-sized pools, saving owners and residents $51 million.

And that’s why the Green Communities of Enterprise matter to us.

DEEPER DIVE: Enterprise, Green Communities



Climate champion José Sarukhán Kermez has spent a lifetime not just leading students, fellow researchers and politicians to a greater understanding of biological diversity and its value – he has pioneered ways to translate that insight into action.

Sarukhán Kermez (born 15 July 1940) is a plant biologist and ecologist. He received a B.A. from National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1964, a Masters from Postgraduate College (Chapingo), and a Ph.D. (Ecology) from the University of Wales.  He’s currently the National Coordinator for Mexico’s National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO). 

Sarukhán Kermez’s main interests include tropical ecology, plant population ecology, and the systems ecology of both temperate and tropical ecosystems, as well as training and education. He has published over 110 research papers and authored and co-authored several books. Sarukhán Kermez persuaded the Mexican government to establish a permanent top-level commission on biodiversity. The commission has bridged the traditional barriers between academic disciplines, government departments and social interest groups.

That was back in 1992, when the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio was crystallizing concern that our global development track was unsustainable. Today, the practices developed by Sarukhán Kermez are essential for the world to correct its course.

As a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), one of Mexico’s best, Sarukhán Kermez rose to become Director of the Institute of Biology in 1979 and later served as its Coordinator of Scientific Research. He was rector of the university from 1989 until 1997, and remains one of Mexico’s most renowned scientists.

DEEPER DIVE: Wikipedia, YouTube, Champions of Earth