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BE INSPIRATION │ KNOWLEDGE 9 ESSENTIAL UPGRADE FOR HUMAN SURVIVAL


CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL


By Peter Seligmann, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Conservation International


There is no question that we are living in a time of rapid change and challenge: social networking and mobile media, globalization and see- saw economies, extreme weather events, and our ever-growing human family are forces that are reshaping the ways we live, prosper, and communicate. Stand still or fail to adapt, and this world will whiz right past you.


This too applies to the conservation movement. For the past 25 years, since I co-founded Conservation International with a small team of committed champions in 1987, I have been witness to the changes taking place in our planet's operating systems. Its water supplies, arable soils, carbon sinks, pollinators, fisheries, reefs, and climate are all in a state of dangerous flux. But so too, is the way we manage these services; businesses, governments, and consumers are starting to shift their behavior, in a conscious need to sustain and adapt.


I liken this period to an upgrade in our stewardship of the planet -- Conservation 2.5, if you will. Allow me to explain.


Back in 1970s and 80s, during a period I liken to 'Conservation 1.0', it was a different era. Conservation and environmental protection wasn't top-of-mind. Companies didn't think about it, governments didn't prioritize it, schools didn't teach it. At that time, we felt it was vital to show that nature and humanity are fundamentally linked and to protect nature through parks and reserves. Our arguments focused on creating and protecting these beautiful natural areas for the sake of preserving natural heritage.


By the turn of the century however, it became evident that this strategy would not alone succeed, as extinctions rose and habitats degraded under the pressures of economic development and expansion.


When we talked about biodiversity loss and the importance of protected areas, when we emphasized the need to protect species in the places where they were concentrated, governments and businesses couldn't see how this related to the immediate challenges of their economic growth and their essential mission of taking care of their people or delivering profits to their shareholders.


We realized that our motivation to protect nature must be driven by much more than our love of its beauty, biodiversity or our natural heritage.


So we adapted. We began to look at nature not as a static reflection of what life was like, but instead, as a critical component of our future. Our goal was to protect biodiversity and we pursued new paths that moved from parks into large-scale ecological zones and integrated economic development to ensure the stability of entire ecosystems.


At the same time, companies began to think about corporate and social responsibility, perhaps because of the advent of the Internet. There was more online discussion among communities, consumers and employees, and greater discussion about waste and environmental impacts. Companies began to think of environmental management in terms of their brand reputation, and this ushered in something like 'Conservation 2.0.'


In this phase, we made meaningful progress in shifting how decision- makers think about managing our natural heritage and wealth, but again, with the forces of globalization bearing down and a narrow focus on protecting biodiversity, we fell short.


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