This past January 26th at The Linnean Society of London, we got together with four conservation Masters courses from different UK Universities1 to explore the ideas and drivers that suggest a transformation in the science, policy and practice of conservation. It was also an opportunity to voice and reflect upon the values, issues and practices which we would like to see at the centre of conservation 20-years hence. I was lucky enough to speak on behalf of MSc BCM and presented our vision of Conservation 2037 in front of the CEOs of Birdlife International, Friends of the Earth, Hampshire Wildlife Trust and The Biodiversity Consultancy.
This is what we, as BCM, want for #Conservation2037:
Speaking on behalf of the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford, I am sharing with you OUR VISION of conservation 2037. We envision a world where the word ‘conservation’ is no longer used to define our profession, but rather an integral facet of human thinking that recognises nature as the driving force of our existence, whether we live in a tropical forest or a concrete jungle… that we as a species are one with and dependent upon nature. We see a future where the value of the natural world is unquestionable… where this universal understanding drives all humankind to adopt conservation into their lifestyles for the sake of nature and for the sake of their own wellbeing.
In this world, conservation is integrated across all sectors, and fosters more cooperation, connectivity and communication between them. Our knowledge and research is ‘open access’ and geographical boundaries no longer matter. Bioliteracy is paramount in core-curriculum across the globe. Conservationists are no longer fatalists but rather focus on what we do right. Optimism is our driver, and we take a pro-active approach to conservation rather than a reactive one.
We want a future dependent solely on renewable energies, a non-consumptive economy that internalises core human and natural wellbeing indices, where cities are agricultural hotspots and rural areas are ‘wild’ once again. A future where climate change is no longer the biggest threat to our existence. Every place, city or village, imbues ‘wild’….. from our backyards to the wonderful ecosystems our planet is home to. Green efficiency will be inherent to human life, from de-waste to human population, our knowledge of the natural world and our relationship to it will have improved substantially because of the use of new technologies; hence current shortfalls will have decreased.
To achieve these, we must work together. Conservation NGOs need wider representation across the globe and should be more accountable, especially in developing countries. Governments must shift their priorities from the extractive economies to protecting the environment, giving a larger percentage of their budgets to environmental agendas. Bridges to the corporate sector must be built to align their goals with the conservation movement. At the same time, conservationists must acknowledge the need to work alongside them, as they have played a major role for where stand today BUT have the power to enact positive change on a global scale. Scientists need to embrace the concept of ‘open access’ knowledge and take every step possible to ensure the valuable research they conduct is translated into ACTION, not just publications..
Only with concerted effort can we reconcile human AND natural prosperity… we must embrace all types of knowledge for conservation, from state-of-the art analytics utilising big data to ancestral knowledge of indigenous people and local communities – thereby tackling the issues of the world from multiple perspectives.
A conservation career 20 years from now will be a valued, respected and sustainable profession. Where society sees our profession as one dedicated to the persistence of our species, rather than one only standing in the way of prosperity. Ours will be THE profession leading the world in the movement towards a brighter future, where equality and respect rule…. regardless of gender, orientation, skin colour, or economic background.
Today marks a pivotal moment… the future 20 years from now depends on how we fight today. WE are the future leaders of conservation and the world. NOW is the time for innovation, NOW is the time for creative thinking. ALL of us here today share a common passion, but our success depends on how we mobilise that passion to enact change in the real world today… only by working together can we achieve this vision… JOIN US!