The release of the Global Assessment report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services adds more stark evidence to the already-bleak outlook for our natural world. The science is clear and the causes well known. The report states that change is urgent yet possible: “Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while simultaneously meeting other global societal goals through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change.”
Where this report stands apart from others is that it also presents a road map for how we can galvanise this transformative change. For Earthwatch it is a welcome endorsement of our strategic approach: putting positive environmental impact at the heart of what we do by bringing people, science and nature together.
The Earth Skills Network, for example, is a skills-share model that creates partnerships between the business and conservation sectors, helping both parties better achieve sustainable outcomes. The model is action orientated, focusing on providing conservation managers with improved business and management skills, which lead to better management of the resource for which they are responsible and improved environmental practice. Participating business employees increase their understanding of conservation and environmental sustainability, which they bring back into their businesses.
Our new community wildlife project Naturehood follows a similar model, bringing communities together to connect with the wildlife on their doorstep. Naturehood helps neighbours of all walks of life to notice nature and connect with it and with each other. It supports communities to take action together, monitor success and share knowledge and skills. In addition, participants collect valuable data that adds to our understanding of how we can best help urban wildlife. This evidence in turn can help inspire and inform new communities to take action. Naturehood support participants to become a positive part of the solution and make a difference – with small acts accumulating and snow-balling to create lasting change.
Our agency in the future depends so much on our understanding of the world now. This includes not only the scientific, socio-economic and political context, but also the personal. To create transformative change, we need to create transformative experiences that create space to share, embrace and reflect on environmental knowledge and understanding. On many of our engagement programmes we ask people how they feel about nature, what visions they have for a sustainable future and provide space for discussion and reflection so that our values, beliefs and judgements can be gently challenged.
In order to “embrace diverse versions of a good life and unleash our values in action”, as advocated by the IPBES, we need to explore what that means to ourselves, our communities (professional or personal) and others around the globe. Everyone can do this and the more we share this journey and support each other, the bigger the change we can make.
Rebecca Craske, Sustainability Inspiration Manager, Earthwatch Europe
Toos van Noordwijk, Director of Science, Policy and Innovation, Earthwatch Europe