The Critical Importance of the World Biodiversity Forum

An Interdisciplinary Conversation on the Need for Action.

Words
Carly Williams & Maddy Macdonald
Film
Nathalie Attallah

This February, the quiet alpine town of Davos, Switzerland was once again invigorated by a flurry of passionate researchers, academics, and industry leaders. Representing 60 countries from all corners of the world, more than 500 experts came together for a meeting of the minds at the first global convention on biodiversity: the World Biodiversity Forum.

Just one month earlier, the Davos Congress Centre hosted the famed World Economic Forum. The highly-publicized conference welcomed discussions across influential politicians, business leaders and economists on the common themes of economic development, policy, and innovation. Among these topics was a clear call for climate action with the underlying awareness of the economic implications of a failure to act. When these conversations came to a close, the inaugural World Biodiversity Forum began.

The Necessity of the World Biodiversity Forum

With 1 million species moving towards the brink of extinction, the sense of urgency for action and change among the attendees of the World Biodiversity Forum was palpable.

Scientists, researchers, and environmentalists sharing troubling data from a variety of different backgrounds came to a consensus on three central issues at the heart of the conversation surrounding biodiversity:

1. Biodiversity loss, climate change, and our own well-being are inextricably linked.

In fact, many experts firmly believe that climate change can be mitigated through biodiversity conservation. This action requires us to recognize that we as humans are a part of nature, instead of elevated above it as we have perceived in the past.

What’s more, against the backdrop of Covid-19, the interconnectedness of biodiversity, climate change, and public health was the subject of many conversations as well as keynotes. In the words of Dr. Cornelia Krug, Science-Policy Liaison at the University of Zurich and World Biodiversity Forum Co-Chair:

A pandemic is spreading quickly through our interconnected and urbanized world. This is a stark reminder that human health and societal well-being are closely linked with ecosystem health and planetary well-being.

2. The scientific community can no longer afford to operate in a vacuum.

As 2020 comes into focus, it is clear that scientists will have an indispensable role as advocates for the environment, and must be supported by individuals and corporations alike. Only through cooperation and coordination between all sectors of society will we be able to alleviate some of the pressure we have placed on the environment.

3. Policy-makers are essential in tipping the scales of biodiversity loss.

This action comes from bottom-up and top-down approaches. However, most importantly, public education is essential.

These conversations were bolstered by young, active environmental stewards representing the upcoming generation of conservationists and innovators. Their passion, engagement, and awareness of these issues demonstrate the foresight and vigor with which they are pursuing action to rectify the damage humans have caused.

The Success of the Forum

On the heels of the World Economic Forum, the main objective of the World Biodiversity Forum was to promote cross-disciplinary conversations between those researching our changing landscape, and those influencing it. The proximity of the two conferences drew clear connections between economic and climate issues, reflecting an argument made by Director Patrick Lewis of the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden:

We can no longer afford to live in the middle of the forest. We need to move into transitional zones where dissimilar habitats meet. That is where we will find non-traditional partners to help us extend our reach, which is important because broadening our audiences is the first step to new and meaningful activity.

Organizers and attendees of the forum established an unprecedented platform for experts from across the globe to discuss issues affecting biodiversity, as highlighted by Dr. Cornelia Krug:

If you walk through the corridors, there is this hum of conversation going on. Everyone who passes me goes ‘this is great, this is fun, I’m learning’.

In the aftermath of the World Biodiversity Forum, the work of attendees is only just beginning. While all can agree that global conversations are necessary, the most urgent need is for action, stated plainly by Dr. Odette Curtis-Scott:

Stop passing the buck. Get to work.

The Takeaway

In order for this forum to make its intended impact, it is imperative that attendees translate ideas into action. To safeguard all life on Earth, participants of the Forum urge national governments and international organizations to act responsibly and without delay towards the future of biodiversity.

As the public, we must collaboratively use the insights afforded to us by these leading experts and rally beside them in order to slow the rapid loss of biodiversity and regenerate the planet, together.

For session records, interviews and more, keep up here.
Watch TEALEAVES’ session at the World Biodiversity Forum with the World Health Organization, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, and more, here.
Explore our other work in biodiversity and the future of our food system here.

 

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