It is said that home is where the heart is. In the case of pro field hockey player Hugo Inglis, his native New Zealand is also where his passion for the environment developed.

“Growing up in the South Island of New Zealand is kind of like a wild immersion into the natural environment,” shared the newest member of the EcoAthletes Supporters club. “From summer hikes to winters in the mountains, my childhood centered on raw experiences with nature. Learning by osmosis how we can, and should, live in harmony with the land and the sea. Our tangata whenua, our indigenous people – the Māori – have long understood and spoke of this connection – Toitū te Marae o Tane, Toitū te Marae o Tangaroa, Toitū te Iwi Strengthen the realms of the Land and Sea, and they will strengthen the People. 

Hugo Inglis (Photo credit: Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Aside from rugby, most world class athletes from New Zealand need to make their livings in far flung locales like Asia, Europe or North America. Inglis is no exception. The veteran of the 2012 and 2016 New Zealand Olympic field hockey teams has travelled the world, witnessing the impact of climate change and overconsumption first-hand. He sees an immediate need for action. “COVID-19 has provided a glimpse into the consequences of natural environment and ecosystem disruption. Urban sprawl and the increasing proximity of people to animals seem to have led to a virus spillover and untold consequences.”

As a global traveler Inglis acknowledges there is a “deeply uncomfortable irony of his lens on climate change coming from carbon emitted fossil-fueled global air travel.” He goes on to say that “hockey is a global game and I have been fortunate to spend time on almost every continent (sorry Antarctica) and met so many great people from across the globe. Alongside this it has also allowed me to witness the catastrophic anthropogenic impact we are having on the planet. We are destroying ecosystems, flooding waste into natural spaces and leaving Earth in a desperately precarious space.”

Inglis is excited to join the EcoAthletes Supporters roster in part because he sees it as a vehicle for athletes to help the world move beyond talk about climate change to move to meaningful climate action.

“I see EcoAthletes as a socially-driven group that can lead the conversation on climate change and create action in our respective athletic arenas,” reflected Inglis. “Dialogue alone won’t push the mandate forward. We also need to get our hands dirty since we have the ability to contribute to our wider communities and share the learnings with each other to consolidate progress.”

Hugo Inglis during the Olympic Qualifying Hockey match for Tokyo20ne between New Zealand and South Korea (Photo credit: Hockey New Zealand/BW Media)

In addition to joining EcoAthletes, Inglis hopes to use qualities that have served him in field hockey as he embarks upon a new career in the world of impact, or socially responsible investing.

“As an athlete you show up each day with all your cards on the table,” Inglis shared. “Completely aligned to the team mission, values and behaviors. Working together on the field to achieve synergies that are much greater than the sum of the parts. Transitioning into the impact space will hopefully give me the opportunity to assist individuals and organizations to align their human, social and financial capital towards higher level goals that intentionally serve both people and the planet.”

To use investment parlance, Inglis sees potential for both significant short- and long-term return on investment (ROI) from EcoAthletes.

“In the shorter-term, I am optimistic that, as a collective, we can help advance the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and achieve the mandate set out in the Paris Climate Agreement,” projected Inglis. “As far as the longer term is concerned, I can envision a world in which there would no longer be a need for ‘EcoAthletes’, that we are all just simply athletes who work towards these amazing outcomes for people and the planet.”

You can reach Hugo Inglis via social media at hugo.inglis on Instagram and @hugoinglis29 on Twitter