Conservation Optimism Summit, 20-22 April 2017, Dulwich College and ZSL London Zoo
With more than half of the world’s wildlife having disappeared in the last 40 years and climate change continuing to push many species to the brink of extinction, the challenges facing wildlife conservation have never been greater.
But while the threats facing the planet can sometimes seem overwhelming, a new summit being organised by ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and the University of Oxford is aiming to shift conservation focus onto the success stories, and highlight that there is a need, as well as a cause, for optimism.
The Conservation Optimism Summit, to be held 20-22 April 2017, will bring together people from across the worlds of conservation, government, industry and academia to highlight ways in which we can celebrate successes and encourage a new, positive way of thinking about conservation to inspire more people to work for wildlife.
Following two days of workshops and discussion at Dulwich College in London, the summit will culminate on Earth Day 2017 with a public event at ZSL London Zoo to share, showcase and celebrate the work that has been done so far to conserve species across the animal kingdom, from partula snails to pandas.
Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at ZSL, said: “No matter how you dress it up, the human impact on the environment has been devastating. Not surprisingly, the conservation movement has traditionally had negative messaging focussing on the threats and overwhelming challenges.
“However this is not the way to inspire change. We need to create a positive vision for the future, focus on solutions and inspire society to take action. We need to celebrate success, identify what is working and bring it to scale.”
Professor EJ Milner-Gulland, Director of Oxford’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS), is one of the figures spearheading the event. She says: ‘Nobody is underestimating the task that faces conservationists. There’s lots of bad news out there, and it can give the impression that the field is full of despair. But it’s not like that, and what we need to do is change that mindset so that we can continue to attract talented young people into conservation, as well as inspiring the public with hope about the future, and ensuring we can influence policy makers to help address the most urgent problems facing the planet.’
The summit has already attracted high-profile support from environmental campaigner and well known chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who says: ‘I'm lucky enough to have the medium of television to discuss and investigate environmental issues that I think are important. One thing I’ve learned is how important it is to present positive solutions and to keep hope alive, as well as educating audiences about the problems facing the world.
“I’m therefore delighted to support the Conservation Optimism initiative and its partners in their mission to spread a new wave of positivity throughout the environmental community.’
The event will partner with the Global Earth Optimism Summit, coordinated by the Smithsonian Institute, as well as an event being held by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.