We had a great session on Sustainable Development Goals at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on the 3rd September. IUCN's DG Inger Andersen opened the session, followed by two keynote speakers: Prof Jeffrey Sachs and the GFS lab leader Prof James Watson. "We cannot achieve global sustainable development and biodiversity conservation if we don't communicate with each other". Having Jeff, one of the world's lead economists, presenting the SDG Agenda and James, a lead conservation scientist, presenting what we need to do to make the SDG agenda work for biodiversity is an example of how this communication can and should happen! James argued that even if the Sustainable Development Goals focus on 5 P's (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnerships), there is one 'P' (Planet) which the other four P's inevitably depend on. The audience (90% of which consisted of policy makers) was absolutely captured by James' slides about the global rates of conversion of natural habitats.
Video of James' talk at the session.
The following panel discussion was about what sustainable development goals mean (or should mean) for countries, with representatives of the world's governments, academy, and civil society interacting on the theme. It took no more than 3 min to UQ's Prof Hugh Possingham (ARC Laureate fellow, NAS Fellow, incoming chief scientist of TNC) to explain why we need targets, strategies, and robust methods to make optimal conservation decisions. Are we really trying to control the final biodiversity state (e.g. no more extinctions), or do we want to slow down human-induced rates of biodiversity loss (e.g. bring extinction rates back to natural)? This is one of the challenges posed by Hugh.
Hugh's intervention during the panel discussion.
When my turn of speaking arrived, I was already so satisfied by how the session has been going! I spent 5 minutes to describe one of the latest efforts of the lab, the Special Issue that we proposed for Conservation Letters on "Achieving the Targets of Global Biodiversity Conventions", which is being published here. Having Jeff Sachs asking for a copy of our papers was just great!
Moreno presenting the Conservation Letters' Special Issue to the audience.
I believe that the best summary of what we have been discussing for >2 hours is the above Live Graphic Scribing by Ms Leah Silverman. I could barely write this blog post in one hour, I am not entirely sure how someone could draw an amazing 2 sq meter info-graphic in two!
Live Graphic Scribing of the session by Ms Leah Silverman