Sabine Plattner grew up in Freiburg in post-war Germany where she spent many hours playing in the nearby forests. It was then that she developed a deep love for nature and the forests. Growing up with three elder brothers, Sabine learned early on in life that if you want to be heard you had to make yourself heard. Not being allowed to study law in the 1960s, Sabine chose to pursue her second love: education. Thus, she became a teacher.
After educating many children as a teacher and, most importantly, seeing to it that her two daughters are well equipped and grounded in this world, she made it her life ambition to ensure a balanced coexistence between man and nature, specifically through education and by contributing to saving rainforests in Africa.
Hence, in 2008 Sabine Plattner founded the Sabine Plattner African Charities focusing on child welfare, early childhood development, curriculum development as well as primatology and related research.
In addition to her charitable work, Sabine made it her goal to protect the rainforests in the Congo Basin, specifically the Odzala Kokoua Park in the Republic of Congo. More recently she extended her work to the Dzanga Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic. She realized that sustainable development work in these remote and scarcely beautiful places in the world is only possible if you engage the local communities by providing them financial security and a purpose by giving them work. Thus, even though she had – and still has – no ambition in tourism, she founded the Congo Conservation Company with the sole aim to support socio-economic development in these regions and to focus the world’s attention on the value of these ecosystems through eco-tourism. Through this private company she is bringing local and international tourist traffic to Odzala in the Congo Basin and Dzanga-Sangha in Central African Republic. These private efforts combined with the Hasso Plattner Foundation’s multimillion-euro commitment to Odzala-Kokoua for community health and education initiatives and a gorilla habituation program ensure a balanced coexistence between man and nature, specifically through education and by contributing to saving rainforests in Africa.
Recently she has also taken hands as an investor of the WaterBear Network, focusing on international conservation awareness through the media.
Sabine is a regular keynote speaker on the topics of early childhood conservation in Africa and initiated an educational development program, EduConservation, with the aim to find ways to integrate conservation content into the curricula of schools in Africa.
Sabine is also the chairperson of the Leadership for Conservation (LCA) with its footprint in more than 20 African countries. The LCA focuses on the protection of selected ecosystems as well as influencing the youth of Africa through traditional and digital media regarding the world climate crisis.
In 2019, Sabine Platter received the Bundestverdienstkreuz from the President of Germany and the Medal de Chevalleur from the State President of the Republic of Congo in acknowledgment of her contribution to conservation in the Congo Basin.
Dr. Kristina Plattner
Kristina is a permanent member of the Foundation Council of the Hasso Plattner Foundation, as well as being on the advisory boards of many of the foundation’s facilities. She focuses her efforts on projects related to Africa and on the topics of education, environmental protection, and nature conservation.
Her interest in the natural sciences has played a key role in her academic choices: In 2002, she received her Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Biochemistry from the University of Cape Town, as well as her honors degree, a Bachelor of Science in Medicine. In 2011, she completed her PhD in the field of Exercise Physiology, Human Biology, and Neuroscience. As part of her academic work, she has published various articles on sports medicine and neurology in scientific journals and portals – for instance in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology (2011), the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (2012), and in Science Direct (2014).
Kristina has lived in South Africa since 1998. Due to her deep connection to the African continent, she has been a driving and decisive force behind the foundation’s philanthropic projects in Africa since the early 2000s. She is particularly committed to sustainability, future-related issues, and social responsibility. In this, she considers education – the essential motor of development – to be key.
Accordingly, one of the projects closest to her heart is the d-school in Cape Town, which opened in March 2017 – the first HPI School of Design Thinking on the African continent. Kristina is very closely involved with the school’s strategic management. Sister organizations in Stanford and at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam served as models for the school. She is enthusiastic about its pragmatic, user-oriented approach: The focus of product development is less on extraordinary design and more on a precise understanding of what the customer wants and needs.
Her passion for Africa and aspiration to preserve African nature and culture for future generations are traits that Kristina shares with her mother, Sabine. To raise awareness for sustainability, she is also involved in her mother’s extensive environmental protection and education projects within the scope of SPAC. This includes, for example, concepts for the increased integration of Afrocentric content into school curricula. As a biologist, nature conservation research projects, such as in the Republic of the Congo, are particularly close to her heart. She is, for example, committed to making communities aware of the value of their resources and working with them to develop prospects for sustainable income that comes from nature conservation rather than rainforest deforestation. Beyond this, an environmentally conscious tourism project is in the pipeline for Odzala-Kokoua National Park, which will offer visitors the extraordinary opportunity to experience two of the great apes – gorillas and chimpanzees – in a single nature reserve.
Another focus of interest for Kristina is Data4Life. Data4Life’s goal is to create digital solutions to improve global health.
In Kristina’s experience, the essential prerequisite for getting things moving is to build trust-based relationships: “To convince many people of a good idea, it is necessary to first win over the individual.”
Stefanie Plattner is a film director and producer, and Managing Director of Storming Donkey Productions in Germany, which she founded in 2012. She is also a trained actor and worked in Berlin for several years in theater and film productions.
As Managing Director of Storming Donkey, she developed the feature film Hördur, directed by Ekrem Ergün, which won Best Children’s Film by the German Film Critics Association in 2015 at the Berlinale Film Festival, and the German Critical Film Award in 2016. She has since released several feature films and documentary films with Storming Donkey which have premiered at internationally renowned festivals such as the Berlinale, the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, and the SXSW Film Festival in Austin.
In addition to commercial film production, Stefanie operates the non-profit organization Tales Of Us, which is an ongoing multimedia series that offers a new approach to communicating the urgency of protecting the world’s most powerful and fragile ecosystems and the people who call them home. The book Congo Tales (Random House / Prestel, November 15th, 2018), which she co-edited, and the short film she directed The Little Fish and the Crocodile are its two first projects.
Congo Tales became an international news story in 2018 and 2019, including being featured on the front page of the New York Times International Edition, bringing a new story about the Congo rainforest and its people to the world. The Little Fish and the Crocodile was featured in a segment on PBS News Hour, and won or placed at over a dozen film festivals worldwide, including the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 2018, which qualified it for an Oscar nomination.
In addition, Stefanie is currently developing a concept for the opening and operation of a museum for contemporary art in Potsdam, with the focus on a GDR collection. She is also a co-chair of the Advisory Board of the WPI, a non-profit organization dedicated to the digitization of catalog raisonées and the modernization of archive research in art. The WPI is based in New York and Paris.
Stefanie is a member of the board of trustees of the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf. In this role, she initiated and produced a master class for Hollywood students with the Hollywood director Stephen Frears and the legend Walther Murch in June, 2019.