random notes from our staff

It seems to me that in all  recent meetings where I’ve been, the issue of communicating biodiversity  is present. In Liège Governmental Conference “Biodiversity in Europe”,  in Brussels’ “Biodiversity Research Conference”; in Biodiversity  NGO meetings. What is meant by “communicating biodiversity?

Basically the need of communicating  the value of biodiversity for people and the planet, and the  importance of the current biodiversity crisis. “The measurable  cost of the loss of biodiversity is somewhere between 1.5 and 3 trillion Euros per year. In comparison: the total sum of all the financial packages  approved by governments worldwide to mitigate the worst financial crisis of the last century was 3 trillion per year”. These figures, presented  by Pavan Suckdev, leader of the study “Economics of Ecosystems &  Biodiversity”  illustrate the economic value of the sound management  of our natural capital.

Its true there is already a  lot of information available to the general public about Nature: TVs   broadcast frequently many nice programs about wild species, about natural  habitats; about the beauty of Nature. No complaints about that. But…

Where is the notion that biodiversity loss is happening at a rate equal  to 1000 times the natural (or fossil record) rate?
is the message  that our own ways of life are causing major impacts and driving pressures  that cause habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, invasions of species,  etc?
is explained that our own lives rely and depend on the services  provided by nature?
Where is the connection between the links?

That’s the current failure.  Some say that scientists have some fault. But in fact, as some participant  in the researchers conference said “biodiversity is very diverse”  and unlike other issues, such as climate change is more difficult to  tackle the diversity of causes and links. As someone said in another  seminar, it is also more difficult to have an impressive single “round  number” indicating a dangerous boundary or threshold beyond which  the system no longer can re-balance it self, to present it to politicians,  as we have for instances the 350ppm CO2 as a limit for safety for climate  change.

Anyway, it’s worthy to make the  effort. Someone among the researchers said “Its better to give an  approximate answer to important questions than an exact answer to unimportant  questions”.

I’m not an active scientist,  but for sure will keep that in mind and risk to do so in what concerns  communication, I’ll speak about that later.

Do you speak biodiversitish?” could be a project to improve a better communication of biodiversity  in the current context; I presented it informally to some NGO colleagues  and people at the EU Commission, as a tool to help people that normally  communicate with wider public or politicians. Available in the Internet  as a resource centre, could have many contents for professionals of  communication, NGOs and other.

Meanwhile, other efforts are done by many people around the world. I found an interesting publication  called “Entangled in the web of life – Biodiversity and the media”  by Mike Shanahan, from IEED. One of the things it mentions is the  potential for tackling Biodiversity and Religion, which reassured my  own thoughts and the “priesting” I’ve been doing about this the  last years (see soon article on this here).