John D. Liu

Functional Ecosystems: The Basis of a New Economy

“We reach that point where we understand ‘Okay, we're in symbiotic relationship with natural earth systems. We're not protected by the GDP. We're not protected by chemical fertilizers or genetically modified organisms. We're protected by living systems. We are part of living systems that have existed over billions of years; they don't belong to anybody; they belong to everybody. We are part of the system.’” - John D. Liu

John D. Liu joins hosts Patrick Leung and Armando Davila in this wisdom-filled episode that explores humanity’s power to create a new economy that can lead the world back to balance by valuing the life support systems of our planet over all else. John draws on insights and teachings that he has gained from starting and participating in the Ecosystem Restoration Camps Movement and also dives into his current projects of using ecological forensics to strategically restore significant natural sites around the world. Throughout the conversation, John masterfully cuts through societal illusions, takes listeners deep into remembrance of what has true value, and then shows us a way forward by reintegrating the recognition of this value back into our world’s economy.


  • The ecosystem restoration camps movement and how it grew out of a dream John had as a child
  • The importance of staying light-hearted during these times of climate anxiety
  • The profound philosophical and scientific teachings that can be transmitted simply by connecting to the Earth at places like ecosystem restoration camps
  • How compassion can be strengthening in the face of pain
  • The dangers of giving anything more value than the life support systems of our planet
  • Ecological forensics and how to restore decimated sacred sites like the Sinai Peninsula
  • Why it’s important to focus on understanding and restoring coastal regions and estuaries
  • What makes us different from the civilizations that have risen and fallen before us
  • The utmost importance of collaboration and shifting from I to we
  • A way forward with functional ecosystems as the basis of human economy
  • How addressing societal inequality can lead to planetary restoration


Earthshot Labs:

Ecosystem Restoration Camps:

Intro & Outro Music by Little Whale:


After 15 years as a Television Producer and Cameraman for CBS News, RAI and ZDF, John D. Liu began to study ecology. In the mid-1990’s he began a participatory process with a number of media and broadcasting colleagues in Beijing that led to the creation of the Environmental Education Media Project for China (EEMPC). He has directed the EEMPC (now the EEMP) from its beginning. The EEMPC has distributed over 1000 environmental films in China since then. The EEMPC also helped found the “China Environment and Sustainable Development Reference and Research Center (CESDRRC) and the China HIV/AIDS Information Center (CHAIN). Over the years their activities have broadened beyond China to include the entire world and to include the production of environmental and ecological films. The name was shortened to Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) when they were asked to work in other countries. From 2003 – 2006 John was a visiting fellow with the Faculty of Natural Sciences and the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of the West of England, In 2006 he was named the Rothamsted International Fellow for the Communication of Science, from 2010 – 2013 John was a Senior Research Fellow for IUCN. In 2013 he received the Communications Award from the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), “Green Gold” a film about his work produced by the VPRO won a Prix Italia award. “Hope in a Changing Climate” was named the best ecosystem film by the International Wildlife Film Festival and won several other honors. He currently also serves as ambassador for the Commonland Foundation.

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