Author Archives: sarahmcc

Post-Conference High

Imagine returning home from a convention such as the World Parks Congress. You have been surrounded by thousands of like-minded individuals for a week straight, listening to inspiring speakers, laughing, crying, and engaging in thought-provoking conversations about global socio-ecological solutions. You return to your 9-5 cubicle and find yourself lecturing co-workers for not recycling their staples and shouting, “Don’t you know how many PPM of CO2 is emitted by taking the elevator to the top floor??” (as you stomp up 37 flights of stairs). – – Okay it isn’t this bad, but you know what I mean right?

The conference high. Commitments are made, hands are shaken and lofty goals are declared. But after the excitement from the World Parks Conference fades away, what will happen? Who will follow through? Will this momentum continue to bring us toward solutions to our social/ecological predicaments? Considering the copious hours of discussion and negotiation surrounding the Kyoto Protocol, it seems as if little action has actually been taken (especially in the US).

However, I am an optimist and I would like to believe that conventions like the WPC are very important to engage conversations, promote cross-cultural understanding, and create movement in the global conservation community.

Let’s check out some products of the congress:

The IUCN Green List of Protected Areas

  • A global standard of excellent protected areas awarded to 23 sites (none in the US)
  • Countries were encouraged to determine protected areas that prevented further species extinction by addressing the IUCN Red List
  • Here are some examples of country commitments (click here to see more):
    • China committed to increase its protected areas territory by at least 20% and its forest area by 40 million hectares.
    • Gabon committed to protecting 23% of its marine waters.
    • Canada committed to protect 600,000 square km from industrial activity to conserve biodiversity.

US and Kiribati Sign Historic Cooperative Arrangement

  • Agreeing to support research and conservation actions for 490,000 square nautical miles in the Pacific Remote Islands
  • Activities include scientific research, law enforcement, the removal of shipwrecks, conservation of seabirds, and eradication of non-native species.
  • Click here for more information about collaborative work on this protected area.

 The Durban Accord

  • Discusses desired outcomes and related targets that reflect the main themes of the WPC
  • Specifically addresses commitments to protect biodiversity through protected areas, secure the rights of indigenous people, and empower youth
  • Outlines targets, goals and an implementation plan.
  • Click here for a full report on the Durban Accord and the WPC outcomes and recommendations

As you can see, important conversations, negotiations and commitments were made at the World Parks Congress. Hopefully global nations will hold each other socially accountable to follow through with their public commitments. The WPC was important to facilitate understanding and a common vision to align goals and encourage collaboration. I am excited to continue to follow reports that are released after the congress to see the fruit of these inspiring discussions.

I’ll take a Super Sized Protected Area please


Preparing to write my blog post, I dive deep into my lukewarm gelatinous minestrone soup. Bouncing off the walls of the cardboard cup, I find carrots that are much too orange, unidentified translucent vegetables, and artificial flavors that leave me yearning for the earth. As the worker at Spoons throws plastic silverware (wrapped in plastic) and twenty napkins in my bag I ask where the soup was made – – she has no idea.

Among many other issues surrounding food security, the disconnect from our food is addressed in the streaming video “Food for Thought” on day 6 of the World Parks Conference in Sydney, Australia.

The crisis: as the global population races toward nine billion, how do we provide nutrition for this many people while protecting the biodiversity of the ecosystems upon which we depend? The ‘Food for Thought’ panelists discussed many possible solutions that need to be explored soon in order to address this pressing issue.

Some solutions discussed by panelists:

1) Efficiency – The statistics concerning wasted food are staggering.

  • 3 billion tons of food are wasted every year
  • Amount of land needed to produce this wasted food 1.4 Billion hectares (twice the size of Australia)
  • Amount of water needed to produce this wasted food is 3 times the volume of Lake Geneva

 2) Eat less animal products

  • Extensive cattle ranching accounts for 80% of current deforestation
  • Concentrated amounts of waste, hormones and antibiotics severely harms river and stream ecosystems.
  • Carbon emissions from livestock, transportation, and grain production to support the demand for meat are enormous
  • Often in developed countries, eating animal product is a choice and a luxury

3) Agroforestry

  • The conservation of biological diversity on agricultural lands can be supported while farmers simultaneously benefit.
  • Farmers can have a diversity products, creating financial stability
  • Agroforestry can be implemented within protected areas, acting as a solution to the social/ecological issue of food security and biodiversity loss.


As the global population and demand for food soars, the degradation of biological diversity continues to be compromised. New and innovative solutions need to be explored to work toward supporting both of these issues concurrently. Speakers at the World Parks Congress are taking steps toward solutions by discussing efficiency and the need to reconnect with our food sources. Protected areas may be a large part of the solution by acting as a managed source of food while simultaneously providing economic resilience to local communities.