As conservationists, we all know that species are going extinct, pristine ecosystems are being destroyed and major environmental problems are caused by consumers who live thousands of kms away while scientists, policy-makers, politicians and other stakeholders struggle to agree on a way forward. Things are not looking good and some problems may be just starting. Often, the glass looks half empty indeed.
That’s why I welcome the new campaign by IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication called “Love. Not loss”. This campaign, initially presented in Nagoya in 2010, was launched at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea, last month and aims to incentivize conservationists using the love of nature as a driver of public behaviour. Instead of messages of loss, we should be promoting action by “celebrating love”!
At the same congress, a motion to create a Green List to assess conservation success was adopted. The Green List for Species will include species identified as “fully conserved” and aims to celebrate success and provide a positive vision for conservation. A green list of well-managed protected areas, an initiative to improve management standards by providing role-models of best practice, is also expected to be launched in a couple of years.
Conservation is a problem-driven science but the public needs to believe that there are feasible solutions, even if not optimal, to these problems so that there is a positive incentive for action. There are successful conservation projects and we have to get better at communicating them so that the less successful ones can gain from it. I welcome this optimistic and proactive approach in conservation that learns from mistakes but doesn’t forget to celebrate and communicate all that has been achieved already! And it’s with this in mind that I hope to hear plenty of positive news from the CoP11 in India which started this week. Of course, I might be crossing a thin line between being optimistic and naive.
Here’s a video to get you started into a positive mood: