Session at DNC 2022 Explores Different Sector Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation

On 25 May, 2022, UNU-IAS participated in a session at the Dresden Nexus Conference 2022 (DNC 2022), organised by UNU-FLORES, TU Dresden, and the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER). The session, ‘Fostering Collective Action: Mainstreaming Biodiversity Across Sectors’, featured presentations on different sectors’ approaches to biodiversity conservation and restoration in their respective fields.

Opening the session, Atiqah Faruz Salleh (UNU-FLORES) and co-host Prof. Marianne Darbi emphasised the need to integrate biodiversity conservation and restoration into diverse fields and decision-making across sectors for sustainable development. A presentation from Maiko Nishi (UNU-IAS) shared findings from case studies from the International Satoyama Initiative – socio-ecological production landscape and seascape (SEPLS), noting the necessity to ensure the multi-dimensional well-being of communities, along with the need to strengthen community-based governance institutions through adaptive approaches.

The importance of understanding the complex relationships between water, energy, food, and ecosystems (WEFE) was highlighted by Carolin Canessa (SIGMA Germany), who spoke about a study conducted in Apokoronas, Crete. The study interviewed seven experts from four different WEFE sectors and found tensions among water users due to low WEFE coordination, whilst the inadequate management of water resources and lack of incentives for sustainable agriculture were also highlighted. The Delphi method used in this study allowed stakeholders to identify the interlinkages in resources management. Abdul Rahim Hamid (James Cook University Singapore) looked at how to bridge the gap between ecologists and planners, noting scientists tend to be deductive, while planners and designers are inductive, therefore a model of cooperative and blended learning can foster communication and drive problem-based learning. Best practices for urban design in Singapore were also presented, which focused on spatial thinking, systems thinking, and nature-based solutions.

Philip Vaughter (UNU-IAS) underlined ESD’s role in conceptualising biodiversity conservation and human development initiatives – complimenting rather than competing with one another – whereby education is used as a mechanism to translate global objectives for sustainable development into the context of the local communities in which they operate, such is the case with the Global RCE Network. Experiences from RCE projects featured in a recent RCE biodiversity publication were presented, highlighting lessons learned, such as the importance of engaging with a wide cross-section of the community (including groups who are often overlooked) in outreach and capacity building activities, recognising local knowledge, and synthesising best practices at the household level and upscaling them.

A presentation by Lisa Junge (IHI Zittau Germany) looked at the finance sector’s role in limiting biodiversity loss, in particular its influence on businesses and governments and subsequently consumption and production. When viewing the extent of biodiversity reporting of financial institutions across Europe, three concepts emerged from the literature: raising awareness, seizing business opportunities, and increasing biodiversity visibility (through reporting practices). It was noted that changing the way financial institutions invest and lend money could foster collective action across business sectors.

Discussion then turned to the way forward, with presenters noting the need for biodiversity conservation to pivot to local approaches for implementation. Horizontal integration was also seen as essential, to engage with other aspects of well-being, thus both structural and individual engagement are key to enacting behaviour change to protect the biosphere. In terms of education, sharing ideas across universities globally is critical, which in turn would reach teacher education programmes and filter into primary and secondary schools. In addition, non-formal education campaigns also have a role to play in shifting consumer behaviour and investment agencies.