The first time Idris Elba came to a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos was in 2014, as a DJ at a party with R&B star Mary J. Blige. “There were some very interesting people in my audience, but it was nothing compared to this time.”
The British actor and his wife, model Sabrina Dhowre Elba, are back in the Swiss ski resort with what he describes in an interview with AFP as “a very different experience” and “a lot of responsibility”: convincing Western entrepreneurs that there is business to be done with small-scale local farmers in Africa.
“People listen, governments get involved, but not enough. That’s why we’re here to knock on doors and tell as many people as we can that we need to get involved twice, three times, four times, five times more, because the need is there,” says Sabrina Dhowre Elba.
“Climate change is on Africa’s doorstep. It’s already happening. People need to adapt today to survive”, she insists.
Since 2020, the Elbas have been goodwill ambassadors for the United Nations, and work with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on actions linked to food security and climate change.
– Private investment
“I think the next challenge is to get the private sector involved,” says Idris Elba.
Fida president Alvaro Lario, who is accompanying the couple to the Swiss ski resort, insists on the importance of having Western companies involved “not just as support or aid”, but with real investment.
“In reality, there are opportunities to do business” in agriculture, forestry, fishing”, which he believes are the 2nd most promising sector after technology. “That’s the kind of conversation we want to have.”
The couple’s commitment earned them a Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum on Monday, and they intend to continue through their own foundation (Elba Hope Foundation) set up at the end of last year to support initiatives related to the same issues, but also to women and young people.
Far from the often merciless characters he played in the series “The Wire” or “Luther”, or in the film “Beasts of no Nation”, Idris Elba says he is motivated by “the injustice of having half the world eating, and half the world not eating. Half the world causing massive damage to our planet, and the other half (…) starving and suffering the most from that damage.”
“When I think of the climate conversation, and when I think of the conversation about the (African) continent, (…) it feels like we’re forgetting about the real people,” his wife also notes. Yet small farmers play a crucial role “when we talk about food security, and even climate. Because the nature-based solutions that everyone is talking about, these are the people who are putting them in place. They are the custodians of our planet.