Sustainability, what a #buzzword.
I was recently eating lunch with a fellow CLTLer when she looked down at her food and stared at it for a couple of seconds before announcing-“everything I’m eating from is disposable.” We’re conservation students- we bring our own coffee mugs and water bottles, shop primarily from thrift stores, and scold people for not recycling. Needless to say, eating lunch out of containers that would eventually end up in a landfill did not sit well with either of us. It did however, lead to a discussion about how large environmental conferences (like the WPC) implement Earth-friendly practices.
So I did a little sleuthing. Connecting to the WPC website showed me that event organizers took many steps towards sustainability. They hired outside event consultants that specialize in sustainable practices, specifically chose the Sydney Olympic Park because it was sustainably built and run, and created a ton of initiatives (like using only renewable energy and using water more efficiently). The website also advises delegates on best practices-check into a WPC approved hotel, carbon off-set (another #buzzword!) flights, bring a reusable coffee cup and water bottle, and turn down the swag unless you’ll actually use it.
While the WPC seems to provide an exhaustive list, there is always the argument against holding huge environmental conferences. We’re trying to talk about saving the world’s biodiversity yet thousands of people are flying across the world, arguably helping to contribute to climate change which is an underlying factor in biodiversity loss. With increasing technological advancements it seems like everyone could just connect to a google hangout and solve the world’s problems from the comfort of their own homes.
But as someone who just attempted to tune into the WPC from afar, I can tell you this is easier said than done. I struggled to follow the intricacies of such a large event no matter the number of social media outlets the IUCN ran. It’s also been mentioned that a lot of the wheeling and dealing that goes on at these conferences happens after the big presentations have ended. Networking and making connections would be a thing of the past. Not to mention the variability of access to technology that exists throughout stakeholders (another #buzzword!). There was a lot of mention of engaging local communities at this years congress and not allowing them in-person representation would certainly take away from this.
We’ll have to wait for the IUCN report on their sustainability targets from the WPC, but to me, improving conference practices seems like a way better solution than just getting rid of them all together.
As someone who fairly recently entered the environmental world, I would not call myself an expert on the “who’s who of conservation.” So after scrolling through the World Parks Congress (WPC) speakers, I was surprised to see some familiar faces. This made me think: (1) the world of conservation must be pretty small, and (2) I must watch a lot of videos.
First there was Jeff Horowitz, co-producer of a documentary on climate change titled Years of Living Dangerously. Then there was Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, who was featured in that film, and also appeared on The Colbert Report. Sylvia Alice Earle, an accomplished marine biologist, is a speaker (she was named Hero of the Planet in 1998 by Time Magazine). I, however, know her from the documentary Mission Blue. Speaker Emmanuel de Merode is the Chief Warden of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I know him from the new documentary Virunga. And finally, I learned about corporations and biodiversity through a TED Talk by Jason Clay, Senior Vice President for Markets and Food at WWF-US, before knowing he would be a WPC speaker.
Now there many, many people who contribute to conservation, so it may not fair to say the world of conservation is small. But I think the prominence of speakers involved in documentaries and other videos at the WPC tells us something. Many of these speakers may consider themselves conservationists, but their role is much larger than that: they are conservation communicators. The WPC’s mantra of “inspiring solutions” is achieved through these innovative speakers who understand the power and importance of communicating conservation issues to the public. It’s these speakers, whether through documentaries or television shows or TED Talks, who inspire and motivate their audience to make a difference. So props to the WPC for providing a forum for these prominent people in the world of conservation communication.
…or maybe it means I just stare at screens too much.
(This entry was posted on behalf of Anna Kellogg)
Winter has officially hit Fort Collins. Snow has been steadily falling and temperatures don’t seem to want to rise above 30 degrees. It’s a prime time for me to curl up on my couch, boil some tea and binge watch Netflix. But instead of watching episodes of The Office for the 1 millionth time, I discovered that the Congress has set up live streams of discussion panels!
Here’s what I’m tuning into:
1. World leaders’ dialogue: Stand up for your rights- parks and social equality. In one of our classes we recently completed a protected area simulation where we worked in groups to set up a system of protected areas for a fictional country. A major theme throughout our discussions was how to include local communities within this new system of protected areas. This panel is going to look at social equality and how the integration of local knowledge and traditions can play a role in achieving conservation goals.
2. World leaders’ dialogue: Health, naturally. I’m really excited/intrigued about the connection between human health and the environment. This discussion panel is going to explore how parks and protected areas can be better managed to promote healthy environments that can be beneficial for human populations (hellllooo ecosystem services!).
To explore other topics and tune in yourself, check out the WPC live stream schedule: