iAct Webinar Highlights: Development and Conservation Conflict

Webinar Still, Roger Crofts

Roger Crofts on Key Development and Conservation Questions

Sponsored and co-designed with the Sibthorp Trust in the United Kingdom, this iAct Dialogue for Sustainability webinar on Development and Conservation Conflict focused on conceptualising the bigger picture while developing a vision for the future. Webinar speakers and 30 participants identified key challenges and questions, and proposed solutions for increasing resilience of natural and social systems. The webinar culminated in brainstorming action steps that participants can take for promoting sustainability in their personal and professional lives.

UPDATE – The IUCN Commission on Education and Communication and Earth Charter International have both reported on our webinar. – UPDATE

Video Recordings of Our Speakers

Dominic Stucker, by Clemens Kalischer, cropped, 2009Dominic Stucker, Programs Manager, Sustainability Leaders Network
Introduction from minute 6:30

Roger Crofts photoRoger Crofts, Chairman, Sibthorp Trust, United Kingdom
“A Collision Course or a Future for the Young?” from minute 10:20

Mama Aleta, Goldman Prize photo

Mama Aleta, Indigenous Mollo Leader, Indonesia
“Goldman Environmental Prize 2013” video on Mama Aleta’s work

Alicia Jimenez photoAlicia Jiménez, Project Coordinator, Earth Charter International, Costa Rica
“Reflections on La Amistad National Park in Costa Rica” from minute 1:31:50

Barkha Mossae photoBarkha Mossae, Second Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration, and International Trade  and Curator, Port Louis Hub of the WEF Global Shapers Community, Mauritius
“Conservation vs. Development: Creating a Shared Vision” from minute 1:45:55

Dominic Stucker, Sustainability Leaders Network Programs Manager, collaborated with Nora Mahmoud, Earth Charter International Youth Coordinator, to moderate the webinar. Both are Co-Conveners of the IUCN Task Force on Intergenerational Partnership for Sustainability‘s iAct Working Group.

Diverse Participants
Our 30 participants included 16 women and 14 men from around the world:

  • Asia: India, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey
  • Africa: Cameroon, Egypt, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe
  • Europe: Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: Colombia, Costa Rica, Grenadines
  • North America: Canada, United States

Eleven participants were university students or young professionals, 11 were mid-career professionals, and 8 were senior professionals.

Break-out Group Discussion Summaries
Small break-out groups discussed the following six questions. Douglas Williamson, Solomon Baimba, Melanie Zurba, Nibedita Mukherjee, Barkha Mossae, Chris Mahon, and others reported on these brainstorming sessions, which we have organized into categorizes, below. Responses do not necessarily represent a consensus among participants, but rather a diversity of voices.

1. What are the development/conservation issues that concern you most?

  • Environmental: disconnection of people from nature, erosion of biocultural diversity, exploitation of natural resources,  climate change
  • Social: population growth, urbanization, social inequities, disparities between sexes, human rights violations, indigenous rights violations
  • Economic: poverty, dominant mental model is profit-driven
  • Awareness and Action: in spite of knowledge and written commitments that change needs to happen, too few are taking action, many people not listening, there is a danger in defining issues for everyone en masse

2. What information do you trust, and from what source? What information do you need to make decisions and act?

  • Trustworthy Sources: people you trust in your community/networks, indigenous peoples, social media, civil society organizations (ex: IUCN, Greenpeace), scientists/researchers and communities of scientists, reliable policy makers,  reliable governments
  • Information Needed: factual; local and traditional knowledge; understanding of ecology, natural systems, geography, carrying capacity of the Earth; understanding of history and social issues like collaboration; drawn from all relevant stakeholders
  • Skills Needed: skills to evaluate information; inclusive and participatory decision-making processes, including local and traditional knowledge; multi-stakeholder convening

3. How can we inspire people to care about the future?

  • General Approaches: inspire with positive solutions, not problems; focus on the success stories from diverse levels, scales, cultures; don’t motivate through fear, but through hope; “if it is not fun, it is not sustainable” (permaculture motto), help people understand their connection to nature within the “community of life” (Earth Charter), approach others with humilty and reverence
  • Sector-Specific: build capacity among young leaders; increase understanding of local and global problems through education and public awareness, in certain contexts, use top-down government policies

4. What are some of the most promising solutions in your region to key development/conservation challenges? How can we build resilience into natural and social systems?

  • Build Bridges: participatory dialogue, encourage the meeting of minds: we (conservationists) need to see the issue from developers’ perspective and challenge them to see it from ours, both sides need to compromise in co-creating mutually-satisfactory agreements; engage in shared, hands-on experiences that bring together a diversity of people outside of formalized contexts, can be more humanizing and less victimizing/villainizing; engage farmers and fishers as stewards, as part of the solution instead of part of the problem, exs: farmers monitoring bird predation on domesticated animals, agreements and action plans with fisher people on fish population monitoring and sustainable harvests
  • Engage Youth and Civil Society: develop communities in which young people have an active role and voice; promote solutions where youth are taking the lead but have experienced mentors, youth tempered with experience; remind people that we have the power to influence governments and businesses (see video from Mama Aleta, above); engage in civil society activism; citizens vote for government candidates that prioritize conservation
  • Implement Sustainability and Innovate: reclaim the concept of and implement sustainable development; recognize the importance of natural capital; take a balanced approach in which economic growth is not the prime objective; work toward a steady-state economy; engage in research-based innovation for resilience, ex: the traditional approach to soil conservation in Iceland was sowing grasses, but a new solution based on research is to plant trees that are more resilient to volcanic ash falls
  • Embrace Mistakes as Part of Learning: make mistakes before we appreciate the right path to take; learn our way into sustainability; when evidence is not conclusive, apply the precautionary principle and take action

5. Who are the decision makers? What dialogues and other means of communication would help influence them in changing mind sets?

  • Citizens: people power has never been more powerful thanks to social media, ex: we have stopped the sale of forests in the United Kingdom, there is great potential for exercising the common wish of the people
  • Youth: formally include young voice (teenagers through thirties) in decision making, youth to host and speak at events where established decision makers are asked to attend, listen, and learn, make sure young people are not scared to promote their solutions, create body of knowledge, knowledge is key for decision-making (see question 2, above)
  • Politicians and Corporate Executives: need to be held accountable, need to be engaged in sustainability, not “green washing”

6. What is your vision for a future in which development and conservation are not in conflict?

  • Balanced Interests: a balance between global interests (international agreements), national interests (country policy and implementation), and local community interests (where the consequences of poorly-designed conservation and development projects are felt)
  • Balanced Development: economic and social equity; a balance between economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability based on the principles of sustainable development
  • Culture of Collaboration: a culture of listening and collaboration that uses participatory approaches and sees mistakes as part of learning; support for innovation, safety nets for those who are innovators and producers; those who are “doing development” are encouraged to offer sustainable solutions; put knowledge into action; conservationists and development practitioners are one and the same people, espousing the values of sustainable development

Continuing the Discussion
Participants and those who could not attend are encouraged to continue the development/conservation discussion on the webinar’s event page on Facebook.  You can also join our iAct Dialogues for Sustainability group to be sure to learn about future webinars.

Webinar Feedback
At the end of the webinar, participants were asked to respond to the following poll questions on a scale of 1-6, with 1 being “poor” and 6 being “excellent.”

  • How good was your Internet connection? 70% responded with 4, 5, or 6, 30% with 1
  • What did you think of the content provided by the speakers? 60% with 6, 30% with 5, and 10% with 4
  • What did you think of the content provided by participants in plenary? 70% with 6, 30% with 4
  • How was your experience of the break-out groups? 40% with 6, 20% with 5, 30% with 4, 10% with 3
  • What did you think of the interactivity of this platform? 40% with 6, 20% with 5, 20% with 4, 20% with 2

Informal comments from participants on the webinar included:

  • It was such a dynamic and interactive first session!
  • What a successful webinar!
  • Brilliant! Great one, Dominic and Nora! Thanks for putting this together.
  • Well done everyone. Thanks Dominic for running the show.
  • It was great!  Thanks to speakers and moderators!
  • Thanks Roger, Alicia, Barkha, Dominic, Nora and all – it was really great.
  • Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and wonderful ideas. It was a great learning experience.
  • Thank you for organising this webinar – I look forward to seeing the discussion on conservation versus development evolve!
  • Very nicely done! Looking forward to the next one.
  • It was a really good opportunity to have a chat with people with similar interests from around the world. I hope you plan on continuing similar webinars as they are great opportunities for pollination.

From the organizers’ point of view, we learned that we need to allow for more time for break out group discussion during the webinar and to streamline and/or reduce the number of transitions in the agenda. Our webinar was planned to be 1:30 hours, but went for 2:45! This is surely, in part, a testament to the salience of the development and conservation topic!

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