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Tony Fernandes, Pangina Heals, Dianna Cohen: Who's coming to Wonderfruit?

Scratch Talks is making a comeback at sustainability festival Wonderfruit next month, with its mission to enlighten and inspire. Here's what—and who—to expect.

Festival goers can expect an extra punch of inspiration at this year’s Wonderfruit sustainability festival, with names such as AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes and Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home fame, scheduled to share their stories and ideas.

The three join a roster of sustainability experts at the festival’s annual Scratch Talks sessions that are a feature of the four-day festival in Pattaya, Thailand.

Scratch Talks is key to Wonderfruit’s mission to promote sustainability and raise awareness of environmental issues, founder Pranitan “Pete” Phornprapha told Eco-Business, adding that speakers were usually partners or contacts that believed in the festival’s vision.

While the Wonderfruit ethos to “encourage, develop and innovate creative solutions for sustainable living and bring together a global community to celebrate them” remains unchanged, Phornprapha said the event will take a slightly different direction when it runs next month.

“This year we’re opening up more in terms of the type of speakers we’re getting, to cover issues such as transgenderism,” he said of the talks, which are held in collaboration with Thai real estate company SC Asset.

In addition to famous Bangkok drag queen and emcee Pan Pan Narkprasert (aka Pangina Heals), blockchain experts who helped bring cryptocurrency to the festival also have speaking slots at the event.

Others confirmed to present include AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes, whose budget airline is Wonderfruit’s travel partner. He will talk about his journey to becoming a global business mogul and the lessons he has learned along the way in a presentation entitled “Dare to dream”.

Author of Zero Waste Home Bea Johnson will demonstrate how a zero waste lifestyle can be stylish, healthy and help to save money.

Attendees will also get the chance to hear from visual artist and Plastic Pollution Coalition chief executive Dianna Cohen about her work, and from adventurer and activist Shilpika Gautam. She was the first to stand-up paddle the river Ganges in India, to raise awareness and advocate for cleaner water in the country.

The sessions will be moderated by Eco-Business managing editor, Jessica Cheam.

After the strong turnout at the last Scratch Talks, this year’s will be held at the bigger but no less cosy Farm Stage, which can fit about 150 people.

What sets Scratch Talks apart from regular talks about sustainability is that the event has been designed to break down the barriers between speakers and audience, said Phornprapha. “It makes a difference that the speakers are walking around the festival and are here to join Wonderfruit as well.”

The talks will run parallel to a host of other activities. Musical performances, craft workshops, yoga and meditation sessions, a dedicated kids’ zone, and multiple food stalls will keep festival goers busy.

Wonderfruit will run from 14 to 17 December in Thailand’s nightlife capital Pattaya, at The Fields at Siam Country Club.

Phornprapha hopes that ultimately Scratch Talks, and by extension Wonderfruit, will be a rallying point for those with an interest in sustainability and environmental issues to come together and collaborate.

“What we’re doing is to start a movement and gett like-minded people together to show that sustainability and environmental protection are serious issues, but we can speak and do something about them in a way that’s creative and fun,” he said.

Eco-Business is the official media partner for Wonderfruit; readers get 10 per cent off their 4-day festival pass with the code ‘WFECOBUS’

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