The passions of former MTV Asia VJ and forever conservationist Nadya Hutagalung

Conservationist – Humanitarian – TV Host – Educator – Superhero

It’s not a simple task to sum up Nadya Hutagalung, the woman who parlayed a 25-year career in television, film and fashion to become a leader of the Green Movement and a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador.  Let’s just say that she’s spectacular and everything we hope to be.

Lucky for us, we were able to catch up with the warrior queen after a recent stay in Bali. She opened up about some of her passions and career highlights.

What’s something you try to do with your family to remain eco-conscious and responsible?

Nadya Hutagalung at Villa Nonnavanna in Bali
photo: Nadya Hutagalung

As a family, we used to make it a priority for all of the holidays with the children to be ones that were in nature, with an opportunity to learn something new and also to give back. We very rarely went to big cities unless in transit and preferred to make the adventures a little more off the beaten track.

What are some simple changes people can make to become more eco-conscious when travelling?

It’s important when one travels to be aware of where souvenirs come from and to never bring anything home that is supporting any form of illegal wildlife trade, or even anything made from any animal parts. We try to support local craftsmen by purchasing handcrafted products that are unique to that area to help the crafts from dying out. These always end up with special places around the home that bring us back to our adventures.

Read also: 6 Tips for Travelling Green (without Sacrificing Luxury)

What has been the most rewarding part of your work with elephants and orangutans?

There have been a few incredible highlights as a result of the campaigning that I do.

Firstly, just the simple act of helping people to understand what the reality is for our endangered species is very satisfying. Being able to help someone change a mindset or be motivated to help is a massive thing.

Next would be the opportunities that arise such as addressing the UN General Assembly alongside Chelsea Clinton, and a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama where we discussed the importance of education when it comes to changing mindsets around sustainability. And most recently sitting next to HRH Prince William at a private dinner at St James Palace in London, discussing the importance of protecting what is left of the incredible species that remain in Sumatra such as the elephant, rhino, orangutan and tiger.

Can you tell us about your book Walk With Me? What was your favourite part about putting the book together?

Walk With Me is a photographic journey celebrating my 30 years in the media industry.

It was an incredible journey that I shared with my team over a three year period, travelling to places like, Nepal, Kenya, Sumatra, Bali and others. I got to share the beauty of these places that are so close to my heart as well as, of course, elephants and orangutans.

In the book, I am also blessed to be joined by some people who have played a huge role in my life, like those from my MTV VJ and my modelling days, my nearest and dearest and, of course, my family. It is the first time that I have shared photos of my children.

There is one chapter which was photographed by me. The rest of the book was shot by renowned Indonesian photographer, Davy Lingar. Proceeds from the sale of the book also go to supporting projects for the Sumatran elephants.

What do you love about Bali?

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Walking through a time of deep transformation. Holding space for all that is to come. #chrysalis #transformation #gratitude

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Bali holds a very special place in our hearts as we spent four years there as a family while the children attended the Green School. It was an incredible time of growth for all of us. We formed some of our most meaningful relationships there with a really diverse group of humans who were all really focused on making an impact in our world. Just thinking of them makes me feel ready for yet another getaway!

What are some changes you’d like to see happen in Bali with regards to conservation and the environment?

Tourists really need to be aware of their impact; the government needs to be firmer with their legislation, accountability and waste management; locals need guidance and support to understand where single-use plastics go and how to dispose of them. The degradation of this island paradise is a huge issue and one that everyone needs to be acutely aware of.

Read also: Manuela Baron, The Girl Gone Green, tells us how to make the zero waste switch

What did you love about your stay at Villa Nonnavana?

Nadya Hutagalung relaxes at Villa Nonnavanna in Bali
photo: Nadya Hutagalung

We loved that it was very central for us to explore an area of Bali that we did not spend much time in while we lived there.  There were lots of great F&B and attractions nearby, yet it was relatively calm once we stepped into the villa. It was modern, bright, airy and clean. A great plus was the kids room with the loft bed for Nyla to be able to invite all her friends over for a sleepover and catch up.

Did you have any New Year’s resolutions for 2019?

For this year I am looking for personal growth, letting go of perfection, upgrading of skills and to be brave enough to venture into something I have yet to explore either in business or in life.

Elisabeth Forsman

Our predictably unpredictable adventure nomad, Elisabeth is the yogi who wants it fast, the ultra-runner who prefers taking a hike, and the swimmer with a fear of lap pools. A consummate lover of all things outdoors, she’s on a perpetual quest to get those around her outside and moving.

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